COLUMBIA, S.C. — Jury selection in the death penalty trial of the South Carolina man accused of killing his five children is scheduled to begin Monday, April 29, at the Lexington County Courthouse.
Timothy Ray Jones, Jr., will stand trial in the deaths of his five children: Elaine, 1; Gabriel Jones, 2; Nahtahn Jones, 6; Elias Jones, 7; and Mera Gracie Jones, 8.
The timeline of this story unfolds as follows:
Amber Jones, the children's mother and Timothy Jones' ex-wife, reported the children missing on September 3. According to reports, the mother had been unable to contact her ex-husband after he had picked up he children from school and day care. Timothy Jones was the primary legal guardian of the children.
According to records, investigators believe that the killings took place on August 28, 2014, at the family home in Red Bank, in Lexington County.
After the murders, Jones is accused of placing the children’s bodies in plastic trash bags, driving his Cadillac Escalade to Alabama, and discarding the bodies in a wooded area outside of Camden, Alabama. Deputies say that he then continued on to Mississippi where he was arrested on September 5 during a field sobriety traffic checkpoint.
During the traffic stop, authorities say they found what appeared to be bleach and blood in Jones’ vehicle, and handwritten notes about killing and mutilating bodies. Deputies also found what they believed to be chemicals used to make meth, and a synthetic form of marijuana.
After Jones' arrest in Raleigh, Mississippi, Smith County authorities contacted South Carolina officials.
Lexington County deputies then traveled to Mississippi where Jones confessed to murdering his children. He led law enforcement officers to the children's bodies in Alabama on September 9.
On September 10, 2014, WLTX reported that the Department of Social Services had at least 2 complaints registered on the Jones family, alleging abuse by Timothy Jones to his children.
In December 2015, Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Donnie Meyers announced that he would seek the death penalty in the case.
Amber Jones filed suit against DSS in April 2016, alleging that the social service agency knew her ex-husband was a threat and did not do enough to stop him.
Although a spokeswoman for DSS declined to comment on the lawsuit, the agency had previously released files that Timothy Jones had been visited by social workers on more than one occasion but had not found conditions that warranted removing the children from his care.
The case is still pending; according to court records, the case was stayed on February 2, 2018, until the criminal trial of Timothy Jones has been fully disposed.
Attorneys for Timothy Jones notified prosecutors in May 2018 of their plan to use an insanity defense in the upcoming trial.
While no clear motive has been given for the crime, a warrant released by investigators in the case said that Jones stated that he feared the children were going to “kill him, chop him up, and feed him to the dogs.”
The trial was to have begun in October 2018, but Circuit Judge Eugene Griffith Jr released an order dated October 15 stating that both sides had agreed to a delay in the proceedings. No reason was given for the action.
Jones has been held at Lexington County Detention Center since his arrest and return to South Carolina in September 2014.
Jury selection is expected to take a couple of weeks. After the jury is seated, attorneys in the case approximate the trial should last three weeks.