In September 2014, thirty-four-year-old Timothy Jones, Jr. was stopped at a safety checkpoint in Mississippi. His car, according to police officers, “smelled of death.”
As WISTV reports, a quick search in their database alerted officers that Jones Jr. and his five children had been reported missing by the children’s mother when the oldest children failed to show up for school.
The children, however, were nowhere to be found in Jones Jr.’s blood-soaked Cadillac Escalade.
Tim Jones, Jr., the man accused of murdering his five children, is back in Lexington County, SC. pic.twitter.com/c20Cw63Jy2
— WLBT 3 On Your Side (@WLBT) September 11, 2014
After being detained, Jones Jr. eventually admitted to killing all five children and dumping their bodies in rural Alabama.
According to his arrest warrant, Jones Jr. believed that his children were planning to “kill him, chop him up, and feed him to the dogs.”
Now, the children’s mother, Amber Jones, has brought a wrongful death suit against the state of South Carolina and the Lexington County Department of Social Services (DSS).
— KLTV 7 (@KLTV7) September 17, 2014
According to Fox 10 TV, Amber alleges in the suit that the state and DSS’s failure to properly protect her children resulted in their death.
The Joneses were first brought to the attention of DSS in October 2011, when a case of neglect was reported. After a series of home visits, a supervisor decided that the case was unfounded, but on October 28, 2011, DSS noted neglect because of “risk for physical injury” in the home. Subsequent unannounced visits to the home showed no sign of neglect or abuse.
In April 2012, the pair separated and a month later, Amber submitted several domestic violence reports. According to one of the reports, Amber stated that Jones Jr. told her: “If you don’t get out of the house now, I will snap your neck right now.”
Tim Jones, Jr., the father accused of killing his 5 children, is on a suicide watch. More details today at 5. pic.twitter.com/R1CPiXeAmj
— WECT News (@wectnews) September 12, 2014
The report also noted that Jones Jr.’s father, Tim Jones Sr., had warned Amber:
“Don’t push him too far. He’s going to snap.”
At the time, police gave her instructions on how to file for an order of protection and DSS suggested she leave the home and go to a local woman’s shelter.
Amber and Jones Jr. filed for divorce in June 2012. Shortly after, Jones Jr. discovered Amber having an affair with another man. He went to see a therapist who was of the opinion that he was “capable of caring for his children as the sole custodial parent.”
When the divorce was finalized, Jones Jr. was granted custodial guardianship of the children while Amber received visitation privileges.
— WLBT 3 On Your Side (@WLBT) September 10, 2014
According to Amber’s complaint, throughout 2013 and 2014, teachers, school officials, and babysitters reported what appeared to be signs of abuse on the children but DSS ultimately decided the accusations were unfounded. And in August 2014, just weeks before their murder, allegations were made that Jones beat and neglected his children, but a case manager found no signs of abuse on the children.
South Carolina is currently seeking the death penalty against Jones Jr., but for Amber, that is not enough.
“Each child suffer[ed] a horrific, but entirely preventable death,” the lawsuit claims.
In a statement released by the South Carolina Department of Social Services, they said they were not able to comment on the case.