NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer (center right) met recently with Monmouth County Crime Stoppers Chairman Kevin Burke (center left) to offer support solving the homicide case involving a former teacher and member, Jonelle Melton. Also pictured are Red Bank Borough EA President Stacy Sherwood, NJEA UniServ rep Brian Furry, and several representatives of law enforcement from Monmouth County and Neptune City.
In an effort to help bring forward witnesses to the murder of one of its members, NJEA has committed $5,000 to a reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.
Four years after the tragic incident in which Jonelle Melton, a Red Bank Middle School teacher, was beaten to death, authorities have renewed their push to find the offender. On the anniversary of her death, Monmouth County Crime Stoppers—in conjunction with the county prosecutor’s office and local law enforcement—announced a $5,000 reward which NJEA has matched.
NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer says he was contacted by Crime Stoppers for support to help solve the homicide.
“From all accounts, Jonelle was a wonderful teacher and a well-respected member of her community,” said Steinhauer. “Her killing was senseless, and we want to do the right thing and help bring her killer—or killers—to justice.”
Melton, 33, was discovered dead in her Neptune City apartment on the morning of Sept. 14, 2009, after she did not show up to school that day. An autopsy determined the cause of her death to be violent assault. Authorities suspect the crime may have been a case of mistaken identity when perpetrators entered the wrong house.
A seventh grade social studies teacher, Melton also served as a yearbook advisor, cheerleading and dance coach, and a member of the School Improvement Team. She studied the bible and attended services at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Lake Como.
Stacy Sherwood, president of the Red Bank Borough Education Association, says she is grateful for NJEA’s commitment to finding Jonelle’s murderer.
“NJEA’s contribution is representative of the kind of commitment and support that Jonelle demonstrated towards her students,” she said. “It’s our hope that this will help bring closure to this tragedy for all whose lives she touched.”
Persons with tips can call Crime Stopper at 1-800-671-4400 or text “MONMOUTH” and the tip to 274637 (CRIMES).