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Estelle Virginia JONES





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - "Psychotic depression"
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: April 18/19, 2012
Date of arrest: April 19, 2012
Date of birth: 1941
Victims profile: Her husband, Joseph Edward Jones, 71, and their severely disabled son, Perry Edward Jones, 51
Method of murder: Shooting / Strangulation with a  belt
Location: Matoaca, Chesterfield County, Virginia, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to a total of 50 years in prison with 24 years suspended, then pared down the sentence to five years by staying execution of 21 of the remaining 26 years. Jones could be eligible for geriatric parole in 2½ years on January 16, 2014

Psychotically depressed woman, 72, sentenced to 5 years for killing husband, son

By Mark Bowes - Richmond Times-Dispatch

January 17, 2014

Defense attorney Randy Rowlett implored the judge to exercise “courage” by sentencing 72-year-old Estelle Jones to only five years in prison for fatally shooting her 71-year-old husband before strangling their severely disabled adult son two years ago inside their Matoaca home.

Rowlett, a former prosecutor, acknowledged to the court that five years would normally be an “outrageous” sentence for a convicted double-murderer.

But the woman described by a forensic psychologist Thursday as the “quintessential grandmother” — who endured years of domestic abuse and alcoholic rages by her husband in their half-century of marriage while devoting her life to their children — was no ordinary killer, mental health experts testified.

Jones suffered from “psychotic depression” that was triggered or exacerbated by a severe hypothyroid condition that impaired her judgment and at times made her delusional, they said. But in Virginia, unlike some other states, her severe mental illness didn’t legally rise to the level of insanity.

That raised concerns for Chesterfield County Circuit Court Judge T.J. Hauler, who said he was convinced that Jones was “cognitively impaired” when she killed, although not legally insane.

Chesterfield prosecutor Erin Barr urged Hauler not to lose sight of the victims, but the judge followed Rowlett’s recommendation.

Hauler sentenced Jones to a total of 50 years in prison with 24 years suspended, then pared down the sentence to five years by staying execution of 21 of the remaining 26 years. Jones could be eligible for geriatric parole in 2½ years.

Hauler said he didn’t consider Jones to be a threat to the community and that there was no deterrent factor in incarcerating a 72-year-old woman. The judge also recognized that Jones had strong family and community ties, with supporters filling half of the courtroom Thursday.

“I’m not going to victimize them further by a long sentence in this case,” Hauler said.

In November 2012, Jones pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree murder in the April 18 and 19, 2012, killings of Joseph E. Jones, 71, and their son, Perry Jones, 51. The younger Jones couldn’t speak, had the mind of a 3-year-old and was in need of 24-hour care.

Leigh D. Hagen, a clinical and forensic psychologist hired by the defense, noted that Jones endured “many decades” of verbal, emotional and physical abuse by her husband, sometimes during “alcohol rages.” On occasions, she was forced to slip away into the woods with her children to escape the violence.

In an evaluation of Jones, Hagen determined her cognitive abilities were significantly impaired, possibly from long-standing depression or even acute depression “caused by the enormity of the circumstances leading up to and flowing from the two killings.”

“It was as though someone had poured concrete over her emotional surface,” Hagen testified.

Eileen P. Ryan, a forensic psychiatrist, testified that Jones was suffering from “psychotic depression” at the time of the killings that was either triggered or exacerbated by “significant hypothyroidism,” a medical condition caused by an underactive thyroid.

Jones stopped taking her thyroid medication in September 2011 because she “wanted to die” but also believed it might have caused her to develop cancer, Ryan said. Her mental and physical health continued spiraling downward from there.

“At the time of the offense, Ms. Jones continued to manifest symptoms of major depression and a distorted perception of reality consistent with psychosis,” Ryan wrote in her evaluation of Jones.

According to evidence presented during earlier proceedings, Jones shot her husband six times after they got into an argument and Joseph Jones told her, “I could have married someone better than you.”

The next day, as she was sitting on her son’s bed talking to him, Jones told police that she kissed him on the forehead before placing a leather belt around his neck and cinching it until he died. When police later found his body, it looked like he had fallen asleep.

“She (obsessed) on the awful life she envisioned that Perry would have institutionalized with people who could not love and care for him as she had all her life,” Ryan wrote.


Detective: 70-year-old woman described killing husband, disabled son

By Mark Bowes - Richmond Times-Dispatch

July 11, 2012

A 70-year-old Matoaca woman tried killing herself with the same belt with which she strangled her disabled son after fatally shooting her 71-year-old husband the day before, a Chesterfield County police detective testified Tuesday.

Estelle Virginia Jones placed a black belt around her neck but couldn't cinch it tight enough to kill herself, nor could she strangle herself with a bed sheet when she tried, Detective Michael Morgott said Jones told him during an interview after the April 18 and 19 killings.

She also placed to her head one of the guns she used to kill her husband but couldn't pull the trigger, Jones told Morgott.

Jones, who turns 71 in September, shot her husband, Joseph E. Jones, 71, six times on April 18 after they got into an argument and Joseph Jones told her, "I could have married someone better than you," Morgott testified at Jones' preliminary hearing in Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

At the end of the brief hearing, Judge Lynn S. Brice determined there was probable cause to certify two counts of first-degree murder and two felony firearm counts against Jones to a Chesterfield Circuit Court grand jury, which likely will return indictments in September.

After arguing with her husband, Jones told the detective that she first retrieved a .38-caliber Titan Tiger revolver from a back bedroom and stood next to her husband as he sat in a chair in the den. After seeing the gun, he stood up and followed his wife into the kitchen before he returned to the den and sat down. Jones said she then stood beside her husband and shot him multiple times, Morgott said.

Believing he was "playing possum" and might come after her, Jones told the detective that she retrieved a second gun — a .22-caliber RG-14 revolver — and shot him once more. When police later arrived, he was found face down in a fetal position with a towel over his head and half-covered with a sheet, Morgott said.

That evening, Jones told police that she tried to comfort her disabled son, Perry Jones, 51, who was upset about what had happened, and stayed up all night consoling him. Perry Jones was in need of 24-hour care and was deaf, and had been cared for by Mrs. Jones for all of his life.

The next day, as she was sitting on her son's bed talking to him, Jones told the detective that she placed a black leather belt around his neck and cinched it until he died. When police later found his body in his bed, it looked like he had fallen asleep, Morgott said. He was also half covered with a sheet with his hands on his chest.

Jones said she then placed the belt around her own neck "so she could be with him," but couldn't cinch it tight enough to kill herself, Morgott testified.

Jones then dialed 911 at 5:20 p.m. and was waiting on the front steps of her home in the 11900 block of River Road when police arrived. When making the call, she told a police dispatcher that she had shot her husband and choked her son to death with a belt, according to court papers.

During his interview with her, Morgott said, Jones was emotional but straightforward about what had happened. Under cross-examination by defense attorney Randy Rowlett, Morgott acknowledged that Jones had said during the interview that her husband had hit her on previous occasions, but that had been some time ago.

Jones also told the detective that she knew her disabled son would not be able to survive without her. Perry Jones apparently could not speak and was unable to control his muscle reflexes, family members have previously said.

Jones, who stands 5-feet-4 inches and weighs about 128 pounds, walked slowly into the courtroom Tuesday dressed in a green jail-issued jumpsuit as about a dozen family members looked on. Jones was a longtime member of and usher at the Community Independent Methodist Church less than a mile from her home.

A forensic psychologist who evaluated Jones did not find her competent to stand trial but also could not say that she was incompetent, Rowlett said after the hearing.

Jones was sent to Piedmont Geriatric Hospital in Burkeville for about a month. There, "they were able to get her to the point where she was competent," Rowlett said. She is now taking medication.


Elderly woman accused of killing husband, son on separate days

April 20, 2012

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Startling developments in a Chesterfield double murder of an elderly man and his son.

70 year old Estelle Jones is accused of shooting them both but on separate days. She's the wife and mother of the two victims.

The prosecutor will not discuss what Estelle Jones said during her police interview.

She's the one who called 911.

Her neighbor, who happens to be her cousin, is in shock.

The last time the two spoke was Monday. They talked about church and that Jones was doing okay.

Hazel Brown looks across the street at her cousin's house with sadness in her eyes.

"My neighbor gone my cousin gone she in jail it just puts tears in your eyes," said Brown.

It was just the night before, police swarmed the home on River Road.

Her cousin, 70 year old Estelle Jones, is a double murder suspect. "She was a nice person you never heard anything from her," said Brown.

We heard very little from her in court Friday.

A soft spoken Jones appeared frail as she walked in the room in handcuffs and shackles around her ankles.

"She's an elderly woman and you can tell some of the years have been difficult on her," said prosecutor Duncan Minton.

Jones is accused of using a handgun to shoot her husband, Joseph Jones, a church deacon, Wednesday. The next day she allegedly killed her 51 year old son, Perry Jones.

Minton said Perry Jones was developmentally disabled, deaf and needed round the clock care.

"No indication of any trouble at the house," said Minton.

Which is the first thing Minton said they look for in building a case.

"More times than not we find out there were prior calls to the house it doesn't seem to be the case," said Minton.

Family described the couple as having a loving marriage that spanned 50 years.

Perry Jones was the oldest of three sons.

"She really loves that boy she really loves that boy because she didn't go nowhere he was right there by her side," said Brown.

As far as motive: neither Minton nor the police will say at this point.

Minton is waiting for autopsy results as the shocking case moves forward. "It seems to be very tragic case I can't imagine a much more tragic circumstance.

Estelle Jones was appointed an attorney.

She's being held without bond in the Chesterfield County jail. She'll be back in court in July.


Estelle Jones




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