NJ teacher found dead in apartment

September 15, 2009 3:17:04 PM PDT
A New Jersey middle school teacher has been found dead in her apartment, and police are investigating it as suspicious. Jonelle Melton, 33, was a fifth-grade social studies teacher at Red Bank Middle School. She was reportedly found in her apartment at the Brighton Arms II complex off West Sylvania Avenue.

The official cause of death has not been determined. The medical examiner is performing an autopsy, and results are expected back late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Melton worked at the school for eight years. Officials said counseling services are available to students and staff.

At the crime scene, authorities could be seen picking through multiple garbage bins. Melton reportedly lived alone in the apartment.

Anyone with information is being urged to come forward. They are asked to call Detective Daniel Baldwin of the Prosecutor's Office at 1-800-533-7443 or Hoover Cano with the Neptune City police at 732-775-1615.

Superintendent Laura Morana sent the following letter home to parents:

Dear Parents/Guardians:

As a follow up to today's automated message you may have received, I am saddened to share with you more details concerning today's tragic event. Today was a very sad and emotional day for our entire school family as we learned about the passing of Ms. Jonelle Melton, middle school social studies teacher. She was a beloved member of the Red Bank Middle School and the entire Red Bank School Community, as her presence greatly impacted our students and staff alike for the past eight years.

Today was a day where we tried to separate facts from rumor, keep parents informed, but more importantly strive to maintain a regular school day for our students. Prior to informing our faculty/staff, our district's Crisis Management Team met to review all protocols to guarantee a prompt and effective response. In addition, we contacted the Monmouth County Traumatic Loss Coalition (TLC) and Red Bank Regional High School's Crisis Management Team to solicit support and counseling services for our staff and students, as needed.

As we recognize that particular students may be having extraordinary difficulty with a loss of Ms. Melton, we urge you to listen to your children and talk to them about their feelings. In addition, grief counselors from TLC and our crisis team will be at the school on Tuesday, September 15, 2009, to respond to students' emotional reactions and needs.

As information regarding arrangements is shared with us, we will communicate this with you. If you have any questions, please contact the school at (732) 758-1515.

Laura C. Morana

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