Timothy Ray Jones Jr. strangled four of his children and beat another to death last August, grand jury indictments made public Thursday say.
It’s the first confirmation of the cause of death at the family’s Red Bank home, matching what some officials said previously.
Four of the children – Merah, 8; Elias, 7; Gabriel, 2; and Elaine, 1 – died “by means of strangulation and/or other violent means or instruments,” the indictments said.
Another son, Nahtahn, 6, died after Jones beat him to death, the indictment said, noting “hitting or striking” killed the boy.
No further explanation of “instruments” is given, but search warrants previously said five belts were among items investigators found at the home.
No other information is contained in the terse description of the crime in the indictments.
Jones’ lawyers sought a grand jury review of the slayings, saying it would provide “a record for review” in subsequent legal appeals as well as require investigators and witnesses to outline what they know in advance of a trial.
Grand jury proceedings are secret, with indictments made public afterward.
Prosecutors have not said whether they will seek the death penalty, but attorneys for the 33-year-old Jones have said it is likely.
The killings occurred overnight Aug. 28-29, the indictments say. Jones’ former wife Amber reported her ex-husband and children missing Sept. 3.
Jones drove around the Southeast for more than a week before being stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs Sept. 6 at a traffic safety check in Raleigh, Miss., authorities have said. The children were not with him.
His vehicle contained “a large amount of blood and handwritten notes with directions to kill and mutilate bodies,” according to an arrest warrant, and a subsequent search of the vehicle revealed “a significant amount of bleach products (aroma) along with blood,” the warrant said.
The bodies of the children were found in plastic garbage bags Sept. 9 outside Camden, Ala., after Jones led investigators there, according to authorities.
He told investigators he believed his children planned to kill him and then “chop him up and feed him to the dogs,” according to an arrest warrant.
State social services officials visited the family three times to investigate conditions in the three years preceding the murders.
One report from those officials shortly before the slayings said Jones appeared “overwhelmed” in caring for his children after his 10-year marriage ended in divorce in October 2013.