Person of interest sought in Cherokee Co. homicide

Person of interest sought in Cherokee Co. homicide

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Vennie Leroy Keaton. Source: Cherokee County Sheriff's Office Vennie Leroy Keaton. Source: Cherokee County Sheriff's Office
Police say the body of Melissa Leann Hudgins was found in a mechanical room in a building at Gadsden State Cherokee's campus. Source: Dixon Hayes Police say the body of Melissa Leann Hudgins was found in a mechanical room in a building at Gadsden State Cherokee's campus. Source: Dixon Hayes
CENTRE, AL (WBRC) -

Cherokee County law enforcement officials have identified a person of interest in the death of a woman whose body was found on a community college campus.

Melissa Leann Hudgins, a 32-year-old mother of two, was found dead at the Gadsden State Cherokee campus in Centre around 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28. Her body was discovered in a mechanical room under the bleachers of the college's athletic building.

Police are calling Vennie Leroy Keaton, 37, a "person of interest" in connection to her death, which has been ruled a homicide. Authorities say that Keaton worked with Hudgins.

Keaton's location is unknown at this time, but Sequatchie County deputies found his vehicle abandoned on the side of a road in Tennessee. The vehicle has been brought to Cherokee County for processing by Calhoun-Cleburne County Violent Crimes Task Force forensic investigators. Keaton is wanted in both Cherokee County and Tennessee on unrelated theft charges.

Hudgins was a contracted custodial worker employed by a cleaning company based in Anniston. The community college canceled classes on Wednesday after her body was found.

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office says the investigation is on-going. Anyone with information about Keaton's location is asked to call the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office at (256) 927-3365 or the Centre Police Department at (256) 927-3661.

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