AMORY, Miss. (AP) — The five children who authorities say were killed by their father loved to dress up as superheroes, play in the park and pool, and pose for the camera, always smiling.
And they loved “wrestling with their dad.”
At their memorial in this rural Mississippi town Friday, about 100 people, some who didn’t even know the Jones children, watched a slide show of their short lives. Mourners in wooden church pews cried and soft music accompanied the images of Merah, 8; Elias, 7; Nahtahn, 6; Gabriel, 2; and Elaine, 1.
About 400 miles away in Lexington, S.C., their father waived his first court appearance Friday because he is being “portrayed as a monster” and needs a mental health evaluation as soon as possible, his attorney said.
Authorities said Timothy Ray Jones Jr., 32, killed his three boys and two girls, wrapped their bodies in separate trash bags and drove around for days with their decomposing bodies before dumping them on a rural hilltop in Alabama. Jones killed them at his home about two weeks ago, before his ex-wife reported them missing, said Acting Lexington County Sheriff Lewis McCarty. The motive and cause of death was still being investigated, authorities said.
Jones has been treated for mental health problems in the past, his attorney Aimee Zmroczek said. She would not elaborate.
“He is scared and simply wants someone to guide him through the process,” Zmroczek said.
His attorneys filed documents saying the initial hearing was entirely unnecessary and could taint a potential jury pool and prevent him from receiving a fair trial.
Jones’ attorney Zmroczek said he has been held in isolation under suicide watch. Lexington County authorities transferred him to a state prison for his safety.
On Thursday, social services officials released a file detailing allegations of abuse and about a dozen visits to Jones’ homes in the last three years. There were accusations the children had bruises and were spanked with a belt, but authorities never found anything serious enough to take the children away.
Case workers made visits as Jones’ marriage fell apart amid allegations his wife cheated on him with a neighbor. His wife talked about being lonely and what a mistake the couple thought they made moving from Mississippi. They left for South Carolina after he got a degree at Mississippi State University and landed a job making $71,000 a year as a computer engineer at Intel.
A therapist who saw Jones more than two years ago described him as “highly intelligent” and responsible, yet emotionally devastated and angry over his wife’s alleged infidelity, divorce records show.
An intoxicated and agitated Jones was arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Smith County, Miss., on Saturday, and authorities said he had a form of synthetic marijuana on him. Officers found children’s clothes, blood and maggots in his SUV.
Three days later, authorities said he led police to the bodies on a remote hillside in Alabama.