Casei Jones, 32, was found dead near Brantley County, Georgia. Later, detectives believed they’d found the remains of her children: Cameron Bowers, 10, Preston Bowers, 5, Mercalli Jones, 2, and Aiyana Jones, 1.
Marion County Sheriff’s Office
The mystery surrounding the death of a Florida Mother and possibly her four children is starting to unravel.
The suspect is her husband. And the murder weapon was a baseball bat, according to reports.
Casei Jones, 32, and her four children — Cameron Bowers, 10, Preston Bowers, 5, Mercalli Jones, 2, and Aiyana Jones, 1, were missing for almost a month. Then, Casei’s body was found in Georgia earlier this month — in her husband’s van.
Her husband is 38-year-old Michael Wayne Jones. He was arrested and charged with her death. The possible remains of her children were then found in the woods of Georgia.
Now, officials believe she was beaten to death with a baseball bat at the couple’s home in Marion County in Florida, according to the Associated Press.
A Marion County Sheriff’s Office arrest affidavit states obtained by Florida news outlets indicates that Michael Jones told investigators during an interview that he and Casei got into an argument on July 10. Casei Jones grabbed a baseball bat and he took it from her, he said, before beating her to death, according to the reports.
Valerie Strong, a spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, would not confirm any additional details beyond the original arrest affidavit, which does not mention the argument or the bat. Brooke Dixon, a spokeswoman for the Georgia sheriff office said she could not confirm it and redirected the Herald to Marion County.
The arrest and booking report the Brantley County Sheriff’s Office sent to the Miami Herald only lists the charges Michael Jones is facing.
All autopsy reports are also still pending, Strong said.
Here’s what we know so far about the case:
Casei and the kids were missing for weeks
Casei Jones and her four kids, two of whom were Michael Wayne Jones’ biological children, were reported missing on Sept. 14. Casei’s mother, Nikki Jones, told Marion deputies she hadn’t seen or heard from her daughter or grandchildren for several weeks and “was concerned that Michael Jones had done something to them.”
The sheriff’s office said Casei and the kids were missing for about six weeks.
However, a Sept. 15 Marion County probable cause affidavit lists the “occur date time range” between July 10 — the day news outlets are reporting the couple got into an argument — and Sept. 15, a day after Casei and the kids were reported missing.
A woman who says she is Casei’s sister said the family didn’t immediately realize something was wrong because they were receiving texts from her phone.
Investigators believe her husband was texting the family on her phone, a sheriff’s spokesman confirmed to the Miami Herald.
The family realized something was wrong when Casei didn’t post anything on Facebook for her son’s birthday, according to WFTV-Channel 9.
The crime most likely happened at the couple’s home, cops say
A Marion deputy visited the couple’s Central Florida home near Ocala and found it vacant, according to the affidavit. The report states it had been vacant for several weeks.
The deputy obtained permission to enter the home and “detected the foul odor of decomposition,” according to the report. A search warrant was obtained and investigators determined the home was a potential crime scene.
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods believes Casei Jones and the kids were killed in the couple’s home and that Michael Jones “stored the bodies at his home and in his van for several weeks before transporting them to Brantley County, Georgia.
A crash and funky smell led to the husband’s arrest
On Sept. 16, officials confirmed Michael Jones had crashed his van along a Georgia highway and Casei Jones’ body was found after deputies detected “a foul odor” coming from the van.
Michael Jones’ ex-wife Sarah told Action News Jax he had been staying with her and their three kids in their Mandarin apartment for two weeks until his arrest in Georgia. He told her he and Casei had split up and that he had no electricity at his trailer in Marion County.
“I asked my oldest if Daddy’s van ever smelled funny? And he said, you know, Mom, Dad has a bunch of cats that live around his trailer, and he says he thinks there might be a dead cat in his car,” Sarah told the news station.
Michael Jones is being held at the Marion County Jail without bond on suicide watch. His next court appearance is set for Oct. 22.
Assistant public defender John Spivey is listed as Jones’ attorney in court documents and was not immediately available for comment.
Anyone with information that can help detectives is asked to call 911 or the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at 352-732-9111.