Woman says synthetic marijuana caused ex-husband to kill their five kids

A South Carolina man was “under the intoxicating influence” of synthetic marijuana when he allegedly killed his five kids, according to a lawsuit filed by his former wife.

The State reports that Amber Jones is suing five Lexington County retailers that supposedly sold the drug to Timothy Ray Jones Jr., 35. Jones Jr. is facing five counts of murder for the August 28, 2014, deaths of his children: Merah, 8, Elias, 7, Nahtahn, 6, Gabriel, 2, and Elaine, 1.

Jones Jr. is accused of beating Nahtahn to death—and strangling his other four children—after picking them up from up from school and day care, according to the local paper. NBC News reported that he allegedly dumped the bodies in the Alabama woods before being apprehended in Mississippi on September 6 for supposedly driving his blood-soaked car while high on synthetic marijuana.

In addition to traces of synthetic marijuana, an arrest report revealed that officers recovered bleach products and handwritten notes on how to kill and mutilate bodies from his vehicle.

The recent lawsuit—which was filed on the third anniversary of the killings—didn’t disclose how long Jones Jr. used K2, also known as Spice.

“These substances are well-known to be severely addictive and are well-known to cause numerous physical and psychological changes in people,” the lawsuit read. “These substances are well-known to cause both auditory and visual hallucinations.”

The suit also claimed that drug manufacturers circumvent laws by frequently changing synthetic marijuana’s composition, leading users to “have no idea how intensely the chemical will affect them and thereby are deprived of the ability to intelligently determine whether they pose a danger to themselves or others.”

In April 2016, Amber sued the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) for failing to protect her five kids despite Jones Jr. posing an imminent threat. Officials revealed in 2014 that Jones Jr. was investigated for child abuse twice mere months before the quintuple murder.

“Repeated failures…were the factual and proximate cause of the brutal deaths of five innocent and vulnerable minor children,” Amber alleged in the lawsuit.

Details surrounding DSS’ supposed missteps remain scarce, as the presiding judge placed a gag order on all parties involved shortly after the 2016 suit was filed, The State also reported.

Jones Jr., who worked as a computer engineer, was awarded custody of his five children in October 2013 when his 10-year marriage with Amber ended. The South Carolina man was jailed from 2001 to 2013 for drug possession, check-forgery, and car theft—something that wasn’t mentioned during custody proceedings.

In December 2015, Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Donald Myers notified the court that the State will be seeking the death penalty. A trial date has not been set.

[Featured Image: Lexington County Sheriff’s Department]