Gruesome details have emerged in the case against a Florida man accused of killing his wife and four children before driving around for weeks with their bodies inside a van.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, 38-year-old Michael Wayne Jones Jr. is accused of murdering his wife, Casei Jones, and their four children. Two of the children were the suspect’s biological children and two were stepchildren. The children were identified as:
- Cameron Bowers, 10
- Preston Bowers, 5
- Mercalli Jones, 3
- Aiyana Jones, 1
According to court records obtained by First Coast News, Jones explained to detectives that the incident began inside their Florida home at 14680 SE 86th Terrace in Summerfield on July 10, after Casei allegedly accused him of cheating on her.
Jones reportedly told authorities that his wife began pushing him with a metal baseball bat, but he took it from her and hit her in the head repeatedly until he killed her.
Jones allegedly said he put his wife’s body in a plastic tote, then stored her body in a closet inside the residence.
The following morning, Jones walked into the room of Cameron Bowers, pulled him out of bed and strangled him to death. According to the police report, Jones said he put his knee on the boy’s chest so he couldn’t breathe. Preston slept quietly in the bedroom next door.
The next night, Jones Jr. went into Preston’s room and placed a zip tie around the boy’s neck. He then carried the child to a bathtub full of running water and drowned him. Jones Jr. told police he decided to drown Preston because his hands were still sore from the day prior after strangling Cameron.
Jones Jr. waited two weeks before he decided to drown the two youngest children. He told police he was served an eviction notice and was running out time. He drowned both girls in a bathtub inside the residence, then loaded all four bodies into his wife’s van and fled to Georgia, according to the report.
Jones told detectives he stayed with his ex-wife in Georgia and told her he left Florida before storms hit the area and needed a place to stay. He said he kept the bodies inside his van for weeks.
Jones Jr.’s ex-wife confirmed that she never saw any of the children while the man stayed with her, but added that her own children (Jones Jr.’s oldest children from his first marriage) complained that the suspect’s van smelled like dead animals.
On September 14, officers arrived at the Summerfield residence after Casei’s mother, Nikki Jones, made a report out of concern for her welfare. According to the police report, Nikki Jones said she hadn’t seen her daughter in months.
Nikki Jones told authorities that she received a text message from Casei’s phone a few weeks prior, asking her to watch the two youngest children. Detectives later learned that Jones Jr. sent the text message in an attempt to “buy time.”
Nikki Jones agreed, but Casei didn’t show up to drop the children off. Instead, Jones arrived and left the children with her. She received another text message a few days later, again from Casei’s phone, asking her to watch the children a little longer. Nikki Jones said she took care of the two youngest children for around two weeks before Jones Jr. returned and picked them up.
During the entire time Nikki Jones watched the children, she had no voice or visual contact with her daughter, which was extremely unusual since the pair spoke often. When Jones Jr. picked the children up from Nikki’s home a few weeks later, he arrived alone.
Traffic Accident Leads to Arrest
By the time police performed the welfare check, however, Jones Jr. had already cleared the house out and taken the bodies away in his van, the report states.
The responding officers who arrived to the residence reported that they smelled a foul odor coming from inside. They contacted the landlord of the home, who informed the officers that he had already started an eviction process against the Jones family, then allowed the officers to search inside the residence.
“Immediately as Seargent M. Moore opened the door, I observed what I know from my experience to be the odor of decomposition,” the police report read.
Summerville police put out a release seeking Jones Jr. for information. The man called them back and claimed he was in the UK with his two youngest children on vacation. He told the detectives he would call them back, but never did.
On September 16, Jones Jr. who was never in the UK, crashed a white Chrysler Pacifica van registered to Casei while in Brantly County, Georgia. Officers who responded to the scene smelled a foul odor coming from the man’s vehicle and Jones allegedly fessed up as soon as authorities asked him about the scent.
“You may want to put me in handcuffs because there is a dead body inside the vehicle,” Jones reportedly said.
Jones then directed authorities to a rural forest area in Charlton County. He reportedly buried all four bodies shortly before the crash. Charlton authorities found the remains where Jones said they would be, according to police.
Read the full report below.
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[Feature Photo: Casei Jones & her children/Handout]