US

Florida Man Charged With Murder in Deaths of Wife, 4 Children: Police

By Isabel van Brugen

A Florida man has been charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of his wife and their four children, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.

Michael Wayne Jones Jr., 38, allegedly killed his 32-year-old wife, Casei Jones and their four children aged between 1 and 10, and then stored their remains at his home and van before bringing them to Georgia, according to police.

Jones and the couple’s children had been missing for around six weeks before they were actually reported missing by her family on the night of Sept. 14.

The 32-year-old and her children—Cameron Bowers, 10; Preston Bowers, 5; Mercalli Jones, 2; and Aiyana Jones, 1—were last seen in the Ocala area, the sheriff’s office said.

Jones was arrested and brought in for questioning in Georgia after officers discovered his wife’s remains in his crashed van near Brantley County, in Southeast Georgia, deputies told CBS News.

According to a press release from the Brantley County Sheriff’s Office, officers “smelled a foul odor” when they arrived at the scene of the crash.

Jones then told deputies there was a dead body in his vehicle, adding: “You may want to put me in handcuffs.”

Casei Jones, 32, and her four children, who range in age from 1 to 10 years old, were last seen about six weeks ago in the Ocala, Florida,
Casei Jones, 32. (Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

He said that he had hidden other remains in Charlton County before he crashed his van. The sheriff’s office later confirmed that Charlton authorities found the bodies which are believed to be of the four missing children.

“Although the remains have not been positively identified, detectives believe they are the remains of the four missing children,” the sheriff’s office said.

Sheriff Billy Woods told CNN: “True evil poked its head up here in Marion County. That’s about the only best way to describe it.”

“He has no right to walk on the face of this Earth, and I’d hate to be him when he stands before the Lord,” he added.

Officials now suspect that he murdered the victims at their home in Marion County and stored the bodies in his home for several weeks before taking them to Brantley County, about 150 miles north of their home.

A warrant was issued for Jones’ arrest for second-degree murder charges, but more charges might be pending, officials said.

Anyone with information about the case can call the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at 372-732-9111.

Facts About Crime in the United States

Violent crime in the United States has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, according to both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (pdf).

The rate of violent crimes fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI’s UCR, which only reflects crimes reported to the police.

The violent crime rate dropped by 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the BJS’s NCVS, which takes into account both crimes that have been reported to the police and those that have not.

The FBI recently released preliminary data for 2018. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January to June 2018, violent crime rates in the United States dropped by 4.3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.

While the overall rate of violent crime has seen a steady downward drop since its peak in the 1990s, there have been several upticks that bucked the trend. Between 2014 and 2016, the murder rate increased by more than 20 percent, to 5.4 per 100,000 residents, from 4.4, according to an Epoch Times analysis of FBI data. The last two-year period that the rate soared so quickly was between 1966 and 1968.

Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report.