By: Marc Summers (WEIS Radio)
***UPDATED 11/30/12- 6:39p.m.***
***UPDATED 11/30/12 - 12:20 p.m.***
Law enforcement from Tennessee, along with Alabama authorities apprehended Vennie Leroy Keaton, 37 late in the morning Friday in Tennessee. More information is expected soon.
CENTRE, AL - Authorities are currently searching for the man named a "person of interest" – in connection with the death of Melissa Leann Hudgins.
Cherokee County Sheriff Jeff Shaver and Centre Police Chief Kirk Blankenship say investigators have identified 37 year old Vennie Leroy Keaton as that "person of interest" and his whereabouts are unknown at this time.
Hudgins body was discovered at about 9:00am Wednesday, inside a storage room in the arena on the campus of Gadsden State Cherokee in Centre; apparently, the murder took place at the scene; following discovery of the body the campus was immediately closed down with law enforcement beginning their investigation into the matter.
WEIS Radio News has learned – that both Hudgins and Keaton were apparently contract workers with a company providing janitorial services to the college.
Hudgins, age 32, was a resident of the Cedar Bluff area. A missing persons report had been filed with the Cedar Bluff Police Department Tuesday evening, after she’d failed to return home to her children that night.
Her vehicle has been found abandoned alongside the road in Tennessee and was recovered by the Sequatchie County Sheriff's Office. It has since been brought back to Cherokee County, where it has been processed by the forensic investigators of the Calhoun/Cleburne County Violent Crimes Task Force.
Keaton is currently wanted both in Cherokee County and in Tennessee, on theft related charges – a warrant has been obtained for his arrest.
Anyone with any information on the current whereabouts of Vennie Leroy Keaton is encouraged to contact the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office at (256) 927-3365 OR Centre Police Department at (256) 927-3661.
Investigators with the Centre Police Department, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, Alabama Bureau of Investigation, District Attorney's Office and Alabama Department of Forensic Science are conducting a joint investigation.
The investigation is on-going and more details will be provided as they become available.
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