AGENCY SLAMMED FOR FAILING TO INVESTIGATE CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATIONS
The man referred to by the S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS) as a “highly intelligent, responsible father capable of caring for his children” was in reality an ex-convict with a history of abuse.
Not only that, a recent abuse allegation prompted SCDSS to pay Timothy Ray Jones, Jr.’s mobile home in Red Bank, S.C. a visit less than a month before he allegedly abducted and murdered his five children.
We wrote about this case earlier this week … but it continues to baffle us.
The decomposing bodies of Jones’ five children – eight-year-old Merah, seven-year-old Elias, six-year-old Nathan, two-year-old Gabriel and one-year-old Abigail – were found off of a dirt road in Wilcox County, Alabama this week. Jones led investigators to the grisly scene and confessed to the crimes, although he has yet to indicate why he did it. Investigators believe all five children were killed at around the same time in Jones’ Red Bank residence, but that’s all they’ve been willing to say at this point.
SCDSS was summoned to Jones’ residence on August 7 but did not conduct a full investigation into allegations that he had abused one of his five children.
“There were clear signs of abuse,” a source familiar with the case tells FITS, but added that forensic exam was not conducted on the child. “There was also a domestic violence incident and it was never addressed how that impacted the children,” the source added.
What were these “clear signs?”
“There were markings on the children that (SCDSS) and law enforcement investigated but the kids never had a forensic interview,” the source said.
“The dad had an excuse for the markings.”
During a previous visit to the home in May of 2014, separate allegations of abuse against one of Jones’ children were also dismissed after the father told the case worker his child was “clumsy” and “bruised easily.”
That case was closed on July 24 after the agency concluded the abuse allegations were “unfounded.”
In addition to these allegations – and the criminal domestic violence complaint – Jones was arrested in September 2001 in Illinois after embarking on a crime spree that included burglary, grand larceny and forging checks. He served eight months in an Illinois prison for those crimes.
It’s not clear whether SCDSS was aware of Jones’ criminal history – or whether that would have changed what advocates say is a “flawed system” of investigating such cases. We do know that prior to the multiple investigations of abuse this year, the agency visited Jones’ home on several occasions in 2011 in response to allegations that the children were living in filth – meaning they had some familiarity with the family.
At this point it’s worth stating a few (hopefully self-evident) things …
As harsh as this website has been on SCDSS (we’re the ones who broke its last major child welfare scandal), there’s no way the agency could have predicted what was going to happen to Jones’ children. Obviously if they had any inkling something tragic was about to transpire, they would have immediately taken these children into protective custody.
And this case – based on the information that’s been made public so far, at least – doesn’t appear to be as black-and-white a case of agency negligence as the story we broke last summer involving four-year-old Robert Guinyard, Jr. (which ultimately led to the resignation of Nikki Haley’s first SCDSS director, Lillian Koller).
Also it’s worth noting that this website is adamantly opposed to government intervening in family matters unless it has overwhelming evidence that criminal activity has occurred – or is imminent.
Having said all of that, we’re dealing with the following things: 1) A brutal crime involving multiple children, 2) An agency with an established history of incompetence and deception, 3) A governor overseeing the agency who sought to cover up the agency’s problems rather than hold its leaders accountable.
In other words, don’t expect anyone to cry for S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley when this tragedy is turned against her politically … a process that has already begun.