Deputies: Suspect in missing woman's death strangled, drowned 4 children

Michael Jones Jr. faces 4 more counts of murder

The sister of a missing Florida mother who was found dead along with her four children said she and other family members believed they were texting with the slain woman.

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Four children who were reported missing along with their mother were strangled and drowned by the woman's husband, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies on Sept. 16 said that Cameron Bowers, 10; Preston Bowers, 5; Mercalli Jones, 2; and Aiyana Jones, 1, were found dead in Georgia after the body of their mother, 32-year-old Casei Jones, was found in her husband's vehicle.

The mother and children were reported missing the day before but family members said they hadn't seen them for weeks even as someone continued to reply to texts on Casei Jones' phone.

After the bodies were found, authorities arrested Michael Jones Jr. on a second-degree murder charge in connection with his wife's death. Deputies said Michael Jones beat his wife to death with a baseball bat.

On Monday, deputies said they believe Casei Jones was killed on July 10, and then the next day, Michael Jones strangled the two eldest children. Two weeks later, he drowned the two youngest children, which were his own, according to Marion County Sgt. Paul Bloom.

"He choked two small children to death, waited a couple weeks and then drowned his own two children in the same manor," Bloom said.

The bodies were left in the family's Summerfield home, where the killings occurred, for weeks until Michael Jones placed them in his vehicle for another two weeks and then drove them to Brantley County, Georgia, records show.

Bloom said investigators may never know the motive behind the slayings.

"Was it because you were afraid they were going to say something?  Were you afraid that they knew something or was it because they had an attachment in his mind to their mother?" Bloom said investigators asked Jones. "And his answer, frankly, was 'a little bit of both,' is what he told us."

Until Monday, Jones had only been charged in connection with his wife's death. He's now facing four additional counts of first-degree murder.

A judge on Tuesday ordered that Jones be held without bond. His arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 12.

During Jones first appearance Tuesday on the new charges, Bloom said Jones didn't have much to say and looked straight ahead.

" (Jones) was very cold and pretty indifferent to it all," Bloom said.

The state attorney's office will seek the death penalty on the four first-degree murder charges Jones is facing.