MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A man who beat his wife to death in a fight over cheating accusations later killed her four children because he was still mad at her and he wanted to keep up the illusion that she was still alive, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.
On Monday, deputies released a 142-page incident report that provides insight into the relationship between Michael Jones and his wife, Casei Jones, and gives gruesome details about the deaths of Cameron Bowers, 10; Preston Bowers, 5; Mercalli Jones, 2; and Aiyana Jones, 1, at the family's home in Summerfield.
Warning: This story contains details that may be considered graphic. Discretion is advised.
Casei Jones was found in a plastic container after Michael Jones crashed his van in Brantley County, Georgia, on Sept. 16, authorities said. The children were found that same day also in plastic containers, which had been dumped in a wooded area and then wrapped in plastic and duct tape and covered in palm fronds, according to the report.
Michael and Casei Jones met about seven years ago while they were both working at a veterinary clinic. They were both married at the time but began a romantic relationship, which ultimately led to them both getting divorced from their spouses, according to their former employer.
Michael Jones said he and Casei Jones had been married for two years and in a relationship for five years and during that time, there were jealousy issues. He said Casei Jones would constantly accuse him of cheating with his ex-wife, records show.
Deputies said residents in the Summerfield neighbor where the Jones family had lived for only a few months reported hearing them argue on a regular basis. A 12-year-old neighbor said he lost sleep because he could hear the couple yelling and the sound of things banging around.
Cameron Bowers told his father, who is Casei Jones' ex-husband, that Michael Jones would beat Casei Jones "almost nightly," records show. He described the fights as being violent and sometimes lasting for hours, according to the documents.
Cameron Bowers said his stepfather would physically abuse the children as well, sometimes hitting them with clothing hangers or any other object that was nearby when he became angry, records show.
The fatal fight
Deputies said that on July 10, Michael Jones was at work when he got a call from Casei Jones, who was upset because she thought he was being unfaithful. Michael Jones hung up on his wife and turned his phone off.
When Michael Jones got home from work that day, he said the fight continued, with Casei Jones following him, tapping him and shining her phone's flashlight on him, according to authorities. Deputies said the fight escalated into a yelling match and Casei Jones picked up a metal children's baseball, which she held horizontally.
Investigators said Michael Jones grabbed the bat from his wife and "hit her and kept hitting her." The children were asleep inside the home at the time.
Once he realized his wife was dead, he put her body inside a plastic tote container, where it stayed for weeks, and then worked to clean up the blood, according to the report.
Michael Jones said he later threw the bat into a dumpster, records show.
Investigators: Children were killed one by one
For weeks after his wife's death, Michael Jones used her phone to text with her family members and her ex-husband and to post to her social media accounts.
Deputies said it was likely during the last week of August that Michael Jones killed the four children.
Between the deaths of his wife and the children, Michael Jones took the girls to Casei Jones' mother's house where they stayed for weeks, the boy's father picked them up for an extended period of time and Michael Jones took three of the children to stay with his ex-wife in Jacksonville, according to authorities.
Deputies said Cameron Bowers was the first child to be killed. Michael Jones crept into his bedroom while he was sleeping, pulled him to the floor and strangled him, according to the report.
Preston Bowers was sleeping in another bed in the room while his brother was dying, records show.
The next night, deputies said Michael Jones went to strangle Preston Bowers but because his hands were sore, he placed a zip tie around the boy's neck and also placed him in the bathtub to drown him simultaneously.
Deputies said it was at least five days later when Michael Jones decided to kill the two girls. He received an eviction notice saying he needed to leave the home within five days so, on the fifth day, he packed up the girls in his van, authorities said.
He spent hours in his vehicle parked outside the Belleview Police Department, debating whether to turn himself in, according to the report. Michael Jones said he couldn’t work up the courage so instead, he drove home and killed his two daughters, records show.
Deputies said he filled up the bathtub and first drowned Mercalli Jones then did the same to Aiyana Jones.
After the deaths
Michael Jones placed the bodies into tote containers and stashed them in his van on Sept. 1 and then drove to Jacksonville so he could be with his ex-wife when Hurricane Dorian passed through the area, since she was nervous about the storm, records show.
Deputies said Michael Jones stayed with his ex-wife until about the time that Casei Jones was reported missing.
While he was in Jacksonville, he asked his ex-wife to lie to investigators, saying that she had seen Casei Jones and the children alive on Sept. 13, according to the report. The woman said Michael Jones had been with her as she spoke to authorities and had written a note telling her what to say, records show.
Deputies said they found a note in Michael Jones' van that had, "saw Casei Friday when dropped kids off," written on it.
When Michael Jones left his ex-wife's home, he said he was going to drive to Marion County to get in contact with law enforcement officers there. Instead, with only $40 to his name, he started driving toward Georgia, records show.
It was in a wooded area in Charlton County, Georgia where he stopped to urinate that he decided to dump the three plastic totes that contained the remains of the four children, according to the affidavit. He's accused of then covering them in palm fronds.
He was back on the road, looking at his GPS, when he crashed into a concrete culvert and then called 911 and admitted to responding officers that his wife was dead inside the van, according to authorities.
Michael Jones' interview
Deputies said Michael Jones initially denied killing the children, claiming they had been staying with one of Casei Jones' family members. Investigators said they knew that was a lie.
Eventually, Michael Jones led authorities to the site where he had disposed of the children's bodies, according to the report.
When asked why he didn't leave his wife's body in the same spot, Michael Jones said he couldn't bring himself to do it, according to the affidavit.
Deputies said they also asked Michael Jones about why he chose to kill the children instead of leaving them with family members, where they'd be safe.
He offered little excuse.
According to documents, Michael Jones said he needed to keep up the facade that Casei Jones was still alive, and since he was still mad at his wife, he killed the children because they were related to her.
He said he wasn't using drugs or alcohol at the time of the slayings.
The lengthy document doesn't offer insight into whether Michael Jones displayed remorse or offered any emotion at all.
He said "sorrys don't do (expletive)" and "Florida has the death penalty, so that's good" when asked if he had anything he wanted to say to the families of the victims, records show.
Michael Jones is being held at the Marion County Jail on a charge of second-degree murder and four counts of first-degree murder. He’s scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.