Man faces murder charge in death at Gadsden State campus in Centre
by Laura Johnson
Dec 03, 2012 | 6111 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A man arrested last week in connection with the theft of a Cedar Bluff woman’s car is now charged with her murder.

Vennie Leroy Keaton, 37, was charged with murder in Cherokee County Monday. He is being held at the Cherokee County Jail without bond, according to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office website.

Police began searching for Keaton last week after Melissa Leann Hudgins, 32, of Cedar Bluff, was found dead in a building at the Centre campus Gadsden State Community College Wednesday.

The charge against Keaton was filed about 3 p.m. Monday, following investigative interviews that began in the morning, Centre Mayor Tony Wilkie said.

U.S. Marshals arrested Keaton Friday in Cookeville, Tenn., where he was charged with theft of Hudgins’ car. He was brought to the Cherokee County Jail Friday, and has been held there since, Wilkie said.

Hudgins and Keaton were co-workers, employed by Anniston-based V.I.S. Management Services, a cleaning company that worked for the college under a contract, authorities have said.

Keaton surrendered to authorities without incident, according to a release posted on the website.

Speaking by phone Friday, the sheriff of Sequatchie County, Tenn., said his office became involved in the investigation even before Hudgins’ homicide was discovered. Her Pontiac Grand Am was found Tuesday about 6 p.m., abandoned on Tennessee Highway 28 about 50 miles east of Cookeville, the city where Keaton was later apprehended, Sequatchie County Sheriff Ronnie Hitchcock said.

Sequatchie County deputies traced the vehicle back to Hudgins, and learned that she had been reported missing in Alabama.

Sequatchie County deputies later searched the location where the car was abandoned and found Keaton’s ID, Hudgins’ credit cards and cell phone, the sheriff said.

Staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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Man faces murder charge in death at Gadsden State campus in Centre by Laura Johnson

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