3 charged in 2009 murder of Red Bank teacher Jonelle Melton
Three Asbury Park men have been arrested for the unsolved 2009 murder of Red Bank middle school teacher Jonelle Melton.
Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said James Fair, 27, Ebenezer Byrd, 35, and Gregory Jean-Baptiste, 26, all of Asbury Park broke into the wrong apartment at the Brighton Arms complex in Neptune City on Sept. 14, 2009. After realizing their mistake Gramiccioni said the three brutally murdered Melton.
Gramiccioni said it was the "blood, sweat and tears" and "good old fashion police work of investigators from his office and across the county that led to the arrests.
"I wouldn't characterize it one individual big break," said Gramiccion, but rather an accumulation of puzzle pieces and bits of information that came together creating proof to bring charges.
Melton, 33, was a veteran teacher and active in many school activities including the school improvement team and Leadership Program at Red Bank Regional High School. She was also a member of the Christian Woman’s Encouragement Group.
Gramiccioni said the case "tugs at the heart strings" because Melton was a "wonderful woman" who was well respected at the school and in her church. "To see her killed in the peak of her life at 33-years-old is a travesty."
Fair, Byrd and Jean-Baptiste are already behind bars around the state for other crimes and are being held on $1.5 million cash only bail. Gramiccioni said they all are charged with first degree felony murder, first degree robbery, second degree conspiracy, second degree burglary, second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, second degree unlawful possession of a weapon and second degree certain persons not to possess weapons.
Fair and Jean-Baptiste are scheduled for arraignment Thursday while Byrd will be arraigned on Friday.
Felton's murder was one of the first cases to utilize the Monmouth County Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line and reward program to solve the case.
Gramiccioni said the investigation is ongoing; anyone with information should call the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office at 1-800-533-7443 or the Neptune City Police Department at 732-775-1615.