Crime & Courts

Five children killed at home, officials say

Timothy Ray Jones Jr. killed his five children at the family’s Red Bank home Aug. 28, Lexington County officials said Thursday.

Jones, 32, is scheduled to be arraigned in Lexington County bond court Friday morning, officials said.

Jones arrived in South Carolina on Thursday after being transported from a Smith County, Miss., jail where he was being held following his arrest for driving under the suspicion of alcohol or drugs last weekend.

The revelation of where the children were killed came as Jones was booked into the county jail on separate murder charges in warrants issued for each of the children.

Officials did not disclose how the children were killed.

Coroner Earl Wells has ruled the children’s deaths homicides but said the cause of their deaths remains under investigation.

Authorities still are looking into why they were killed, Sheriff Lewis McCarty said.

Jones and his children lived in the 2100 block of South Lake Drive, where the killings are alleged to have taken place, according to an arrest warrant from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.

The bodies of three boys and two girls – identified as Merah, 8; Elias, 7; Nahtahn, 6; Gabriel, 2; and Elaine Marie, 1 – were found in plastic garbage bags around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday outside Camden, Ala., according to investigators.

Jones had custody of the children after his 10-year marriage ended in divorce in October.

On Sept. 3, Jones’ former wife, Amber, reported the children and her ex-husband missing. Investigators entered the father and children into the National Crime Information Center database as missing as a search for them began.

With the bodies of his children in the car, Jones traveled from South Carolina, to North Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi before finally driving to Alabama, where he dumped the bodies, investigators said.

Officers in Mississippi discovered the notification that the children were missing and took Jones into custody. He later led them to the children’s bodies, authorities said.

Legal documents show that Friday will not be the first time Jones has appeared in court.

According to documents obtained from the Illinois Department of Corrections, Jones, who was 20 at the time, was arrested on March 30, 2001, for possession of a controlled substance.

Six months later, Jones also was arrested for charges related to burglary, forgery and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Jones was sentenced in 2002 to six-year concurrent terms for burglary, forgery and possession of a stolen vehicle according to documents from Michael Combs, chief of the criminal division of the McHenry County, Ill., State’s Attorney’s Office. Another year was added for the charge of possession of a controlled substance.

Jones was admitted to the Big Muddy Correctional Center in April 2002, but paroled out in less than a year, in January 2003. According to Tom Shaer, a Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman, Jones completed his obligations for the charges in January 2005

Timothy Ray Jones Sr. declined to comment on his son’s criminal history to The State on Thursday but did confirm with The Associated Press that his son grew up in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago and had a criminal record in Illinois.

“Typical teenager doing stupid stuff, that’s about it,” Jones Sr. said.

He said his son was an exemplary student and he decided to go into the Navy.

“After that he started hanging in the wrong crowd and got himself in trouble,” the elder Jones said.

Jones Jr. worked as a computer engineer for the Intel Corp. in Columbia, where he reported making nearly $71,000 annually, according to 2013 divorce records. Chuck Mulloy, the corporation’s spokesman, said he could not confirm whether the company knew of Jones’ criminal background when they hired him as a computer engineer. There are about 250 employees at the Columbia facility.

McCarty said Wednesday Jones killed the children early on in the disappearance before driving through several states with their bodies in garbage bags in the back of his vehicle.

According to reports from the Spartanburg Herald-Journal on Thursday, surveillance cameras show that Jones stopped at a local Dunkin’ Donuts on Reidville Road on Sept. 1.

Lt. Kevin Bobo, a Spartanburg Sheriff’s Office spokesman, told the newspaper Jones entered the restaurant at 2417 Reidville Road on Labor Day and they later learned the bodies of his five children were inside his car at the time. He parked near a trash bin behind the doughnut shop, Bobo said.

“Every place he stopped, he parked near a dumpster to mask the smell,” Bobo said. “He was doing same thing in other jurisdictions.”

A Dunkin’ Donuts employee confirmed the Labor Day visit Thursday but declined to comment further, referring questions to Dunkin’ Donuts’ corporate media line.

Surveillance footage from Dunkin’ Donuts was turned over to the Lexington County Sheriff's Office for investigation.

Bobo said deputies in Lexington County contacted the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office over the weekend to ask for the video from Dunkin’ Donuts.

Jones, meanwhile, has told investigators he won’t talk with them about the deaths of his five children without his lawyers present.

That notice was filed Wednesday in Lexington County Circuit Court by his lawyers.

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