Man sought in connection with Cedar Bluff woman’s death
by Laura Johnson
lbjohnson@annistonstar.com
Nov 29, 2012 | 4514 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<i>Vennie Leroy Keaton</i>
Vennie Leroy Keaton
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Authorities in at least two states, Alabama and Tennessee, are looking for Vennie Leroy Keaton, 37, in connection with the death of Melissa Leann Hudgins.

Hudgins, 32, of Cedar Bluff was found dead Wednesday morning by a security guard inside a mechanical room at Gadsden State Community College’s Centre campus. The two were co-workers, employed by Anniston-based V.I.S. Management Services, a cleaning service that worked for the college under a contract, authorities said.

Hudgins’ abandoned vehicle was discovered on a road in Tennessee, according to a release from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. The vehicle has since been brought back to Cherokee County for forensic analysis by investigators, according to authorities.

Keaton has been identified as a “person of interest” in connection with the case and his whereabouts are unknown, according to the release. The release also states that Keaton is wanted in Cherokee County and in Tennessee on theft-related charges.

Local authorities confirmed Thursday that the charges are related to Hudgins’ recovered vehicle.

The Sequatchie County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee is also asking for assistance in finding Keaton. Authorities there have said he has “ties” in Tennessee and Florida.

Keaton is 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs about 180 pounds, and has brown hair and green eyes, according to the Sequatchie County Sheriff’s Office website. Keaton may be traveling with a knife, the website states. Authorities have said Keaton’s 7-year-old son is in state custody in Tennessee.

Hudgins’ cousin, Shelia Motes, said family members still do not know why anyone would hurt the victim. Hudgins was known by family for being dedicated to her two children, ages 8 and 11, Motes said.

Motes said she did not believe Hudgins and Keaton had a personal relationship.

Authorities have asked anyone with information on the whereabouts of Keaton to contact the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office at 256-927-3365 or Centre police at 256-927-3661.

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

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