Freehold,NJ- Three Asbury Park men, all currently incarcerated on unrelated crimes, have been charged in the 2009 murder of Jonelle Melton, a 33 year old Red Bank Middle School teacher who resided in Brighton Arms apartment complex in Neptune City.
James Fair, 27, Ebenezer Byrd, 35 and Gregory Jean-Baptiste, 26, were each charged with first degree Felony Murder, first degree Robbery, and other second degree charges. Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced the charges during a press conference at Freehold office this morning. Melton’s husband, mother and other family members and friends were present for the announcement.
Gramiccioni said that Melton’s murder was the result of the suspects breaking into the wrong Brighton Arms apartment. Fair, Byrd and Jean-Baptiste intended to rob a different apartment when they forced themselves into Melton’s home. When the discovered they were in the wrong apartment, the brutally murdered Melton.
Fair in currently incarcerated at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution in Freehold where he is awaiting trail on a 219 count indictment charging him with Racketeering, Conspriacy, Attempted Murder, Robbery and numerous drug and weapons charges.
Byrd is currently serving a 12 year sentence at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton for two separate shootings that occurred in Asbury Park in 2009.
Jean-Baptiste in being held at the Mercer County Correctional Institution awaiting trial on three indictments charging him with drug distribution and gun possession.
Judge Joseph W. Oxley set bail for each of the three defendants at $1.5 million, cash only, for the charges related to Melton’s murder, with a bail source hearing required before they can be released.
“Today is a good day for Monmouth County Law Enforcement,” a somber Gramiccioni said as he announced the charges. The Acting Prosecutor repeated referred to the “closure” of the six year long investigation by his office and the Neptune City Police Department, while stressing that the investigation is open and ongoing. He declined to answer whether the investigation is seeking addition perpetrators or only additional evidence against Fair, Byrd and Jean-Baptiste.
Gramiccioni asked that anyone with information of the case call Detective Scott Samis of the Prosecutor’s Office at 800-533-7442 or Detective Lt. Matt Quagliato of the Neptune City Police Department at 732-775-1615.
Any one with information about the Melton case, or any other violent crime who wants to remain anonymous can contact Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling 800-671-4400 or by texting “Monmouth” plus their tip to 274637.