Gregory A. Jean-Baptise (30, of Asbury Park) was sentenced to life in a New Jersey State Prison, plus an additional 20 years for Witness Tampering that will run consecutively for his role in the 2009 killing of Red Bank Middle School teacher Jonelle Melton.
Melton was a beloved veteran school teacher who found dead in her Neptune City apartment on Sept 14th 2009. She was an active member of the school community , serving as a member of the School Improvement Team, Leadership Program and selected to serve as a Student Council Advisor.
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 more than six years, and was one of the first cases to utilize the Monmouth County Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line and reward program.
Jean-Baptiste, along with Ebenezer Byrd, 39, of Asbury Park, and Jerry J. Spraulding, 41, of Keansburg, were each found guilty on all counts, on March 12, 2019, in connection with the Sept. 14, 2009 murder of 33-year-old Melton. The three men were found guilty of first degree Felony Murder, first degree Robbery, second degree Conspiracy, second degree Burglary, second degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and second degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon. Additionally, Byrd and Jean-Baptiste were found guilty of first degree Witness Tampering. Byrd and Spraulding convicted of second degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons due to prior convictions involving a weapon.
As a result of that investigation, detectives learned that Byrd, Jean-Baptiste, Spraulding, and a fourth defendant James Fair 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.
Fair is serving an 82-year prison term in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton as part of a long list of crimes 78 crimes he was convicted of committing in the summer of 2017. Following that conviction, he pleaded guilty on Nov. 2, 2017 to his role in the murder of Jonelle Melton. He was sentenced by Judge Oxley on Dec. 21, 2017 and is eligible for release no earlier than Jan. 3, 2065