68ºF

Young Brevard killer Catherine Jones now a free woman

Catherine Jones, 13, and Curtis Fairchild Jones, 12
Catherine Jones, 13, and Curtis Fairchild Jones, 12 (FLORIDA TODAY)

OCALA, Fla. – Catherine Jones is a free woman.

The security office at the Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala confirmed that Jones left the prison Saturday morning, Florida Today reported.

The 30-year-old spent more than 16 years behind bars for murder — less than a week after her 29-year-old brother was released.

Catherine, and her younger brother, Curtis, shot and killed their father's girlfriend, Sonya Nicole Speights in 1999. They also had planned to kill their father and a male relative who they said was sexually molesting them. Their cries fell on deaf ears even after investigators from what is now the Department of Children and Families identified evidence of the abuse and other signs such as Catherine running away from home and the siblings acting out in school.

The children panicked after shooting Speights and were apprehended.

At the time, the pair were the youngest to ever be charged with first-degree murder in the country and faced the prospect of life in prison. They never mentioned the abuse to their attorneys and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, accepting the sentence of 18 years and probation for life.

The sexual abuse was revealed during an interview with Local 6 News partner Florida Today and verified in confidential documents revealed to the newspaper by an an attorney working to gain the children clemency several years ago.

Catherine married a naval officer, who read a story about the case in 2009 and started writing to her.

Soon the couple will be able to start their lives together.