A man is suspected of killing his five children in South Carolina and then driving all the way to Alabama before dumping their bodies on a dirt road and fleeing to Mississippi, authorities said Tuesday. Following his arrest, he led police to the site where the lifeless children were found wrapped in individual plastic bags.
Timothy Ray Jones Jr., 32, Jones has been charged with unlawful neglect by a legal custodian and police expect to file additional charges as the investigation develops, Lexington County, South Carolina, Sheriff Lewis McCarty said in a statement.
Jones was being held in Smith County, Mississippi, and awaiting extradition to South Carolina, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said in a news release.
Wilcox County, Alabama, District Attorney Michael Jackson told The Associated Press that Jones is suspected of killing thechildren in South Carolina and leaving their bodies in a rural area near Camden, Alabama.
The children ranged from 1 to 8 years old and were reported missing by their mother on Sept. 3, authorities said.
"This is a very tragic situation," Jackson said. "These kids' lives were snuffed out before they had a chance to enjoy life. Justice will be served."
Police have not released details on how the children died. Lexington County Coroner Earl Wells was arranging for thechildren's bodies to be taken back to South Carolina for autopsies and identification Tuesday night, sheriff's officials said.
Alabama Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Steve Jarrett told a news conference that authorities were not sure why Jones drove through that state. He said Jones led investigators to the children's bodies on a dirt road near the Oak Hill area. The children's decomposed bodies were found in individual plastic garbage bags east of Camden, Alabama, said Smith County, Mississippi, Sheriff Charlie Crumpton.
Jones was detained Saturday at a checkpoint East of Raleigh, Mississippi, where police were looking for impaired drivers, Crumpton said. He said Jones appeared to be under the influence and became agitated when a deputy questioned him about an odor of chemicals coming from the Cadillac Escalade. The deputy found what were believed to be chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine and a substance believed to be the street drug Spice, a form of synthetic marijuana, Crumpton said. A sheriff's office investigator was called and found what appeared to be bleach, muriatic acid, blood and possible body fluids, he said.
During a background check, police discovered that Jones was wanted in South Carolina "regarding a welfare concern of hischildren," who were on a national missing persons list.
Police arrested Jones for DUI and possession of control substances and notified South Carolina authorities, Crumpton said. Investigators from several departments and the FBI started looking for the missing children on Monday, he said.
Jones had joint custody of the children and is divorced from their mother, police said. Jones told neighbors that he and thechildren were moving to another state, they said.