Sep 10, 2014 11:36 AM by NBC News
Weeks before a South Carolina father allegedly murdered his five kids, drove them across three states and dumped them in the woods, authorities investigated a child-abuse complaint against him but decided they were not in danger. "At that time there was nothing to alarm them immediately, Department of Social Services director Jackie Swindler said of the caseworker and deputies who looked into the Aug. 7 allegation against Timothy Ray Jones Jr.
Jones, 32, is now being brought from Mississippi, where he was arrested over the weekend in a blood-spattered Cadillac Escalade, to South Carolina to face five counts of murder. The remains of his children, who ranged in age from 1 to 8, have been driven back from Alabama, where they were found in the woods in garbage bags on Tuesday evening.
"In all my years in law enforcement, I have never seen a case like this," said Lewis McCarty, sheriff of Lexington County, South Carolina.
Police say they believe Jones, who worked in the computer industry, killed the children in South Carolina sometime before Sept. 3, when they were reported missing by their mother and their school. He allegedly drove their remains across three states and left them off a highway in Camden, Alabama, before heading to Mississippi, where his parents live. He was detained there on Sept. 6 when a sheriff's deputy who "had been around long enough to know the smell of death" looked in the back of the vehicle during a traffic stop, according to a prosecutor.
Police found blood, bleach and rags in the Escalade. Jones - who was "high as a kite" on synthetic marijuana, according to Mississippi district attorney Daniel Jones - eventually confessed to killing the children and led authorities to their makeshift graves, officials said. "He has not indicated why he did this," said Lewis McCarty, the sheriff of Lexington County, South Carolina.
McCarty said no Amber Alert was issued for the children after they were reported missing because their father had legal custody of them. He said he had spoken to the victims' mother, who had been divorced from Jones for about a year. "I don't think that there's a person in this room that can speak to the mother of these children and not become emotional," he said. "She's a very nice person, a very sweet lady. She is in shock and is extremely distraught."
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