Suspect in Raleigh murder has criminal past

Ronald Lee Anthony Jr., Travian Devonte Smith and Sarah Rene Redden (Photos courtesy of Wake County Sheriff's Office)
May 23, 2013 8:12:38 PM PDT
There's new information about the three suspects in a random north Raleigh murder.

Ronald Lee Anthony Jr., 23, Travian Devonte Smith, 20, and Sarah Rene Redden, 18, are accused of killing Melissa Huggins-Jones last week.

Redden has no adult criminal record. Any juvenile record she might have is not public.

Both Anthony and Smith have criminal backgrounds.

Anthony got an early start on his adult record with an unusual crime five years ago.

Police say Anthony called in a bomb threat to Fuquay-Varina High School in February of 2008, watched from nearby as police and firefighters descended on the school. They say he then tried to rob three nearby banks with a 26-year-old female accomplice.

Police say Anthony took a mask and knife into each bank, but lost his nerve when customers and employees got suspicious. He was later convicted of making a bomb threat and conspiring to commit armed robbery.

Some people who live in Fuquay-Varina say they are not surprised that someone who would try that a young age would now be charged with the murder.

Huggins-Jones was found beaten to death by her eight-year-old daughter last week at their apartment in Raleigh's North Hills community.

"The one in Fuquay was horrible. What he did to that woman, I can't even speak upon that," said Fuquay-Varina resident Mary Smith. "They should have caught it a long time ago and maybe this woman would still be alive.  My heart goes out to her family. It really does because I've been there."

Smith told ABC11 that her son was murdered in Connecticut.

Anthony was given probation for that attempted crime spree in Fuquay-Varina. However, he later violated the terms and was sent to prison for five months.

Anthony now faces life behind bars and possibly the death penalty.

Authorities said it appeared there was no connection between Huggins-Jones and the suspects before the crime.

Huggins-Jones would have turned 31 on Tuesday. She had just moved to Raleigh two weeks earlier from Cleveland, Tenn. for a new job and a fresh start. Huggins-Jones was originally from Elizabethtown in Bladen County.

She was recently divorced and was sharing custody of her two children with her ex-husband. She took her daughter with her to Raleigh. A friend told ABC11 her son could not transfer schools this far into the academic year so he stayed with his dad in Tennessee.

A funeral service for the mother of two was held Sunday at Elizabethtown Baptist Church. There will be another memorial service for her in Tennessee that will take place in two weeks.

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