Photos of slain Red Bank teacher Jonelle Melton, as displayed at a prosecutor’s press conference in November. Below, a state Department of Corrections photo of suspect Jerry J. Spraulding. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
A fourth suspect in the 2009 killing of a Red Bank Middle School teacher has been charged, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said Friday.
Like the the three men charged in November, the latest suspect, Jerry J. Spraulding, 38, of Keansburg, was already in custody, Gramiccioni said in a prepared statement.
Spraulding is currently serving an eight-year sentence in Northern State Prison after he was convicted last year on two counts of drug dealing, Gramiccioni said. On Friday, he was charged with charged with murder, armed robbery and other offenses in the crime, in which teacher 33-year-old teacher Jonelle Melton was beaten to death in her Neptune City apartment in what authorities contend was a burglary gone awry.
Spraulding joins James Fair, 27, Ebenezer Byrd, 35, and Gregory Jean-Baptiste, 26, all of Asbury Park, who are each facing similar charges in connection with Melton’s death.
From Friday’s announcement:
Neptune City Police Department received a 911 call around 9:07 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2009, reporting the discovery of unresponsive woman in an apartment in the Brighton Arms complex, 311 West Sylvania Ave. in the borough. Officers arrived on scene and found the victim, 33-year old Jonelle Melton, inside of the apartment. Monmouth Ocean Hospital Services Corporation (MONOC) paramedics arrived shortly thereafter and pronounced Ms. Melton deceased.
A joint investigation was immediately launched by the Neptune City Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation continued over the course of the past six years, and was one of the first cases to utilize the Monmouth County Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line and reward program.
As a result of that investigation, detectives learned that Spraulding, Fair, Byrd, and Jean-Baptiste planned to burglarize a specific apartment in the Brighton Arms complex. However, the men broke into the wrong apartment and encountered the victim. At some point after realizing they were in the wrong apartment, the men brutally murdered Ms. Melton.
Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley set bail at $1.5 million.
Michael Melton, the victim’s estranged husband, worked and still works at the middle school as a special ed teacher.