COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -A clipboard with handwritten notes detailed a horrifying plan to dispose of bodies sat in the passenger side seat of the SUV Timothy Jones Jr. was driving the night of September 6, 2014.
That same evening Jones would be stopped at a traffic safety checkpoint in Smith County, Mississippi, and taken into custody on charges of DUI and possession of drug paraphernalia. The black Cadillac Escalade he was driving was towed to an indoor storage facility at the Smith County Sheriff’s Department for further examination.
The next day, on Sept. 7, Stacy Jones, a forensic scientist with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations spent 12 hours processing the car. Jones testified Thursday to taking photos of the exterior and interior of the car, as well as creating an inventory list of the hundreds of items found inside the car
“The vehicle had a light layer of dust on the outside, so I photographed that first before making my way to the interior,” she said.
Pictures shown to the jury in court reveal a cluttered car, with several cardboard boxes and trash bags overflowing with personal belongings. Jones testified she found several cleaning agents inside the car within a five-gallon bucket, including bleach, Clorox wipes, and muriatic acid.
“The odor was very, very distinct,” she said. “It was absolutely based on my professional opinion a decomposition of sorts. There was what I described as decomposition, old blood and then a chemical bleach type smell that was kind of all combined together. It was very strong and almost burn the nostril to work inside that vehicle.”
Hundreds of photographs of the five Jones children were also found inside the car, along with their birth certificates, social security cards, savings bonds, clothes, shoes, and information from their pediatrician.
The forensic scientist testified she tested a reddish-brown stain on the back of the car’s center console and it tested positive for blood. She also testified to finding human hair and a piece of human tissue in the back of the car.
Additionally, she testified to finding a presence of maggots inside the car, along with large bleach stains on the floorboards.
But perhaps most shocking were the handwritten notes found on a clipboard sitting in a cardboard box on the passenger seat.
“The paper says, number one, head to campground, it says melt bodies, it says, saw and bones…to dust…or small pieces,” she testified as she read the note aloud to the jury. Another note listed “burn up bodies,” “sand down bones” and “dissolve and discard” next to a smiley face.
Throughout the several hours of testimony, Timothy Jones Jr. sat motionless in the courtroom.
Thursday afternoon, Solicitor Rick Hubbard called Lt. Eric Johnson of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations to the stand. Johnson testified in line with the testimony given by Stacy Jones related to the processing of the SUV. Then, prosecutors asked him to recall the initial interview he had with Jones on Sept. 7, one day after he was taken into custody.
Johnson testified in his years in law enforcement, he had never seen someone behaving in the manner of Jones.
“He was sweating profusely, I mean it was dripping down his face, his hair was wet,” Johnson said.
Johnson testified upon reading Jones his Miranda rights, Jones grabbed the paper out of his hand, telling Johnson “he knew what his rights were” before signing the document, waiving his rights. Johnson testified Jones never asked for an attorney.
Timothy Jones Sr., his father, was present for the interview and very cooperative with law enforcement, according to Johnson. As the interview got underway, Johnson said Jones started acting erratically.
“He would be from one extreme to the other,” Johnson said. “He’d go from loud to crying, saying his mother “put this in his head.” Johnson continued, “He said the only way you can stop me is putting a bullet in my head. He was just bouncing off the walls.”
Johnson said when Jones was asked if he hurt the children, he immediately screamed yes, followed by a sudden no.
He testified Jones said he had pushed the kids out of the car between his home and a Walmart because he thought his son Nahtahn, 6, was "threatening to kill him and feed him to the dogs.”
Eventually, he told investigators he dumped their bodies in black garbage bags off the side of the road in Alabama and offered to take investigators to the bodies.
“The entire trip there, which was probably 160 or 170 miles, we only made one wrong turn,” Johnson said. “He guided us right to them.”
Upon getting out of the car and discovering the children, Johnson testified a handcuffed Jones pointed and screamed, “They’re over there!”
Soon after, he was placed back into a police car and returned to Mississippi.
On Thursday afternoon, Jones’ defense team began questioning Johnson, asking him about follow up interviews he conducted with Jones in the coming days. They pressed about why, if Jones was acting psychotic, that they didn’t inquire further about the “voices” he referred to.
“My sole focus was finding those children,” Johnson replied.
Johnson will return to the stand on Friday morning to continue being cross-examined by the defense.