Suspect in McKenzie Sessoms’ murder back in custody

By Chris Berendt - [email protected]
Jones -

A teenager charged in the 2013 murder and rape of a Salemburg Elementary School fifth-grader is back in the Sampson County Detention Center after reportedly violating the conditions of his house arrest in another county.

Antonio Trey Jones, 18, was placed behind bars under $100,000 secured bond. Sampson County Sheriff’s officials said Jones was taken into custody Friday due to nonpayment of his house arrest dues, in violation of a court order. He remained in the Sampson County Detention Center on Sunday evening.

“He’s 18, but his mom’s been paying them,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Marcus Smith of the fees, collected through a third party. “They were in arrears for several months.”

Jones stands charged in the murder of McKenzie Sessoms, 11, found dead on Sept. 6, 2013 in her Hairr Lane home near Salemburg, where she was reportedly living with her father and two adult brothers. Eight months later, the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jones, who was 14 at the time. Jones was staying in Salemburg at the time with his father and grandfather, next door to the Sessoms’ residence.

In August 2014, it was determined that Jones, then 15, would face murder and rape charges as an adult. Judge Sarah Seaton made that ruling following a probable cause hearing in Sampson County District Court, where all juvenile matters are initially handled.

Seaton ordered Jones placed under two separate $1 million bonds for the two felony charges. It was said at the time that Jones would not be housed in the Detention Center but remain in a juvenile facility until he has bonded out or until the completion of the trial. However, Jones was subsequently released on $100,000 bond earlier this year and placed under house arrest in Franklin County, where he lives with his mother. He still has not gone to trial.

Smith said Jones’ whereabouts are “monitored all the time.”

The body of Sessoms was found the morning of Sept. 6, 2013, on the couch where she had been sleeping each night while renovations were being made to her bedroom. In early May 2014, sheriff’s officials announced the arrest of the teen believed responsible for Sessoms’ death (Jones’ name was not immediately used due to his age), but stopped short of providing many details surrounding the murder. That has remained the case.

According to previous reports, Sampson County Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Barr said Sessoms was most likely smothered and that the autopsy showed evidence of sexual assault, a fact which bears out the rape charge leveled against Jones.

Jones was taken into custody May 6, 2014, at his mother’s Franklin County home.

Sessoms’ grandparents Dudley and Cathy Starke spoke to various media outlets in September, upon the four-year anniversary of her daughter’s death. They called for justice and answers to pressing questions surrounding their granddaughter’s killing. They also expressed their belief that Jones, if he indeed committed the crime, did not act alone, according to media reports.

Nonpayment of house arrest dues lands 18-year-old in Sampson jail

By Chris Berendt

[email protected]

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.