LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - A chilling audio recording of a father confessing to brutally killing his five children played in a Lexington County courtroom, as he sobbed listening to graphic details of the crime.
The 45-minute recording captures only part of an interview between Timothy Jones Jr. and law enforcement after deputies realized the recording device wasn’t working halfway through.
The interview came two days after Jones was arrested at a safety traffic checkpoint in Smith County, Mississippi for DUI and drug possession. When deputies realized the car was linked to five missing children in South Carolina, it was towed to the sheriff’s office for further processing.
FBI Agent David Mackey led the interview with Jones in an attempt to locate the children who had not been seen or heard from in more than a week. Mackey testified he advised Jones of his Miranda rights and Jones subsequently waived them, signing a waiver and continuing on with the interview.
“He told us he was not under the influence of anything at the time of the interview, understood what was going on and mentioned his mother’s mental health and how he might have what she has,” Mackey testified. Defense attorneys told the jury in opening statements Jones’ mother is a diagnosed schizophrenic institutionalized for more than two decades.
Mackey told the jury the tone of the interview changed once Jones’ children were brought up.
“He started talking about Elias and Nahtahn and that they had said they want to kill him, that they essentially were colluding against him,” Mackey said.
Investigators then asked Jones about several notes found on a clipboard inside the car which included phrases such as “melt bodies” and “saw down bones.” Jones admitted they were his but told investigators he didn’t remember writing them or what they were in reference to.
Mackey said they then asked Jones about the blood found inside his car on the back of the center console. He testified Jones told them it was from a cut, which investigators told him they weren’t buying.
All of a sudden, Mackey said, Jones told investigators, “Let’s cut to the chase.”
What followed was a detailed, graphic depiction of a father’s attack on his children. Jones told investigators on the night of Aug.28, he got into a confrontation with his son Nahtahn, 6, about four blown electrical outlets in the living room. Jones told police he wanted to know what happened and pressed his son for answers. When he wasn’t satisfied with his response, he said he began making his son do pushups, squats, and sit-ups for hours. Eventually, Jones said he sent his son to bed. When he went to check on him later, he told police he found his son dead.
That’s when Jones told investigators the voices in his head took over, telling him no one would believe it was an accident and as a result, he needed to kill the other four children.
“The children were afraid, they knew something bad had happened,” Mackey said. “The children were afraid.”
In the interview, Jones told investigators he first strangled Elias, 7, then Merah, 8.
“He chokes his son to death and his son struggles as he’s being strangled,” Mackey said. “Next he goes to his daughter, Merah Gracie and he kills her in the same manner. According to Mr. Jones, before he strangled her, Merah said, “Daddy, I love you.”
The interview goes on to describe how Jones used a belt to strangle his two youngest children, Gabriel, 2, and Abigail, 1.
“He said basically his hands were too big to strangle the smaller children,” he testified. “Initially he told us that’s what he did, but then he corrected himself to say he used a belt. He placed a belt around their neck and showed us how he had pulled the belt taut to kill his son.”
After killing the children, Jones said he loaded them into the back of his SUV, throwing some of his possessions in the car as well before leaving the family’s Red Bank home.
He eventually lead investigators to a rural area of Alabama where the children were found in black garbage bags.
During Friday’s testimony, Jones was visibly crying as he listened to the audio recording of the interview. At times, he would remove his glasses and wipe his eyes with a blue handkerchief.
Testimony continues on Monday morning. If convicted, Jones could face the death penalty.