The children of Tim Jones, Jr. had been under state oversight off and on over the past three years, according to South Carolina Department of Social Services case files released late Wednesday night. None of the complaints resulted in any of the children being taken away from Jones or his now-estranged wife.
Jones has been charged in the murder of his five children after his extradition back to South Carolina from Mississippi. Officials said Jones confessed to dumping the bodies of the children, ages 1 to 8 years old, and told investigators where the bags of decomposing bodies were located on the side of a rural Alabama road. Smith County (MS) sheriff’s deputies had detained Jones after his arrest for controlled substances during a traffic stop. Deputies also discovered bleach, blood, and children’s clothing in the car.
The first complaint against Jones took two years to close, according to the reports released by DSS on Wednesday.
In a press conference Wednesday, DSS’s new law enforcement liaison Jackie Swindler, acknowledged that a new case had been opened August 7, 2014.
“On that day, a seasoned DSS worker from Lexington County, along with Lexington County deputies, went to the scene and interviewed the children, interviewed Mr. Jones, interviewed neighbors,” Swindler told reporters. “At that time, there was nothing to alarm them immediately, there was nothing that showed that the children were in any kind of imminent danger or peril at that time. The case was still open. It was still being investigated.”
DSS was required to do a follow-up visit within 45 days of the open complaint. The time had not elapsed when the children were reported missing on September 3.
A complaint filed with Lexington DSS on September 16, 2011 resulted in repeated requirements for the home to be cleaned and cleared of dangerous tools, trash, debris and
items that could harm the children. On a follow-up caseworker visit, Tim Jones was reported to have been combative. Over the next few months, DSS followed up on what was classified as a form of neglect, see below:
In late May of 2012, caseworkers found the Jones couple had marital troubles (“CM” is short for Case Manager)
By June 26, 2012, the parents were struggling over custody of their now four children. By Aug. 16 of that year, Tim Jones had fled to Mississippi with them and his wife was pregnant with another child. Because he was now out of the state, the case was closed on October 16, 2012.
But DSS involvement was far from over.
Mr. Jones was back in Lexington County when caseworkers responded to a child abuse allegation at his home on May 5, 2o14. The mother had left him and was sharing occasional visits with the children. He now had custody of their five children.
Case managers and law enforcement followed up at the school and home over the next few weeks and reported the children seemed fine, but “Dad appears to be overwhelmed as he is unable to maintain the home.” Mr. Jones was an engineer with Intel and had been doing construction work on the family’s home during previous visits. That case was closed July 24.
A school official next alerted DSS a month and a half later, on Sept. 3:
This is the case that remained open when police found Jones at motor vehicle safety checkpoint in Raleigh County, Mississippi on Saturday, Sept. 6. Deputies report that he was under the influence of something and that the car reeked of “death.”
*Names blacked out are caseworkers, witnesses and victims as required by law.