The brown fields of Arkansas and Mississippi blurred past as a Greyhound sped Jeremy Jones away from his troubled past.
The time was December 2000 and the handsome 27-year-old mama’s boy was wanted in Oklahoma on a rape charge. But he says he was fleeing more than just the law: “I was trying to change. I wanted a new life.”
He always felt the law had it in for him— even though two 1996 rape charges, including one where he allegedly fired a gun to threaten a woman, were reduced and he was given probation.
Jeremy Bryan Jones also had to attend sex-offender classes, which he hated. “I don’t want to listen to those perverts talk,” he told his mother.
A gregarious sweet-talker, Jones bragged he could “talk the panties off a nun.” The silver-tongued ladies’ man considered himself born lucky. But a voracious methamphetamine habit and increasingly aberrant behavior tested that luck — and he knew it.
“It’s easier to look in the rear view mirror than to face your problems,” he later told detectives.
A Thug Mentality
In that mirror was Miami, Oklahoma, population 14,000, a bleak landscape pocked with abandoned zinc and lead mines. Jones says he embraced the “thug mentality” in high school: “They had all the money, the motorcycles, the women. For a while, I had all that, too.”
As he fled Oklahoma, he had $3,000 from selling his truck and something priceless for a man in his situation: a new identity. He’d met the mother of a Missouri inmate in a bar in Joplin, Mo. He told her the system was sticking it to him again. She lent him her son’s identity.
Now he was John Paul Chapman, and during the 20-hour bus ride to Tuscaloosa, Ala., he studied his new birth date and Social Security number. He wanted to spout them without hesitation. It was a role he perfected over the next four years.
On that bus, though, Jeremy Jones was far more than a criminal on the run. Police say he was a serial killer on the path to new prey.
Since his arrest last year, he has confessed to killing at least 21 people in a string of murders that spanned 12 years and five states. Eight may have been metro Atlanta women.
Becoming John Chapman without slipping up “was easy,” he said in telephone interviews from the Mobile County, Ala., jail. He mocked the authorities who arrested him three times in Georgia, failed to match his fingerprints with his true identity, and set him free.
“If I never came back to Mobile,” he said, “I’d still be out there. I’d still be John Chapman.”
Last week, Jones was sentenced to death for raping and killing a woman near Mobile.
Georgia authorities hope to bring him to justice here. He has been charged with the 2004 slaying of Amanda Greenwell, 16, in Douglas County. He told detectives he also killed Tina Mayberry outside a Douglasville bar in 2002 and that he kidnapped, raped and killed Patrice Endres, 38, a hairdresser who disappeared last year from her Forsyth County salon.
He claimed he killed three prostitutes in Mobile, five in the Atlanta area and another in New Orleans. He has been charged in the New Orleans killing, but police haven’t substantiated his other claims.
Mobile County sheriff’s Detective Paul Burch and Sgt. Mitch McRae have spent hundreds of hours with Jeremy Jones, listening to his rambling and often changing confessions. His stories are a mixture of truth and fantasy.
“We spent hours and hours talking about hunting and fishing and girls,” said McRae, who has a collage of Jones’ photos hanging behind his desk. “He brags about conquests, about having affairs with teachers. A lot of that stuff was not true.”
But several polygraph tests have supported his accounts of the killings.
Nevertheless, Jones now claims his confessions are hogwash, that he played the system to get special meals and phone privileges and meetings with his mother and girlfriend. His mother says he has called more than 350 times.
“When you take everything a man wants, I’ll do everything possible to get what I want,” he explained.
The tale he told detectives goes back to 1992, when he said he stalked, tried to rape and then stabbed to death Jennifer Bryan Judd, a pretty 20-year-old newlywed, in her Baxter Springs, Kan., apartment.
He also claimed to be the answer to an unsolved Oklahoma case in which a couple was found shot to death in 1999 in their burning trailer. Their 16-year-old daughter and her best friend are still missing.
Jones told detectives he killed the couple, kidnapped the girls, raped one, shot them both and dumped their bodies down abandoned mine shafts. Burch believes the rape charges had taught him a lesson: “He learned you don’t leave a witness.”
A Real Charmer
Jones’ stay with family friends in Tuscaloosa was short-lived. A bounty hunter tracked him down, so he fled south to Mobile, where he met Mark Bentley, a home builder. Bentley didn’t need help, but Jones offered to work a day for free. Bentley was impressed. He hired him and let him stay at his trailer.
Jones looked up to Bentley, a rough-hewn man with a strong personality. A church elder, Bentley was unequivocal about Jones doing drugs. “I’ll send your ass in a box back to your mama,” he told him.
Jones dated several women in Mobile. He didn’t set limits when approaching the opposite sex, often seeking pretty and accomplished women, McRae said. One was a registered nurse, another was getting a doctorate.
“Some part of dating these girls was a feeble attempt to be normal,” Burch said.
Bentley’s wife, Kim, says Jones was respectful and complimented her cooking. “When he saw someone sad, he wanted to cheer them up,” she said. His emotions bubbled near the surface. He often giggled and “he’d cry just as easy as a woman.”
She thought Jones yearned for a sense of family. He talked endlessly about his little brother and “he was excited about his mother coming here. He was in La La Land.”
Jeanne Beard was happy her son had found the Bentleys. “I thanked God my son got in with good people.” In her mind, their friendship shows that her son can’t be the killer police say he is: “Kim and Mark Bentley loved my son. He wanted him to marry his cousin.”
Kim Bentley’s teenage step-daughter called Jones “Ken,” as in Barbie’s boyfriend. “We were a family,” said Kim Bentley. “He wanted to fit in with it all. He did. He fit in with everybody he met.”
But Jones eventually fell out with his adopted family — Bentley said he was often strung out on meth. He moved to a motel, where he met Craig Baxter, a Douglasville man working temporarily in Mobile.
Jones approached Baxter at the motel, saying he liked his T-shirt. “He’d keep a conversation going, whatever it takes,” Baxter recalled.
When Baxter returned home, he left Jones a note: “If you’re ever in Georgia, give me a call.”
Jones took him up on the offer two months later, in May 2002. He had been beaten up and needed cash. Baxter wired $50. The next day, without warning, Jones, with stitches over his eye, appeared on Baxter’s doorstep. Baxter let him stay in the basement.
Jones gave Baxter’s wife, Jan, bad vibes. “He kept weird hours,” she says. “He’d be gone a lot at night.” Once, while watching “The Osbournes” on TV, Jones went on about Ozzy Osbourne’s daughter.
” ‘Oooh, what I could do with that,’ ” she recalls him saying. “I remember feeling uneasy.”
Finally, the Baxters kicked Jones out. He was using drugs and not paying rent. Jones showed up at a neighbor’s house, crying. “He was very weak,” recalled John McIntosh, the neighbor. “Things really upset him.”
McIntosh and his wife, Kerry, were splitting up, so he let Jones stay. He got him a job at Young Refinery in Douglasville, where McIntosh was a manager. “John Paul Chapman” passed a background check and was trained as a welder.
Jones hit it off with the couple’s son, Matt, then 12. They played video games, talked hunting and horsed around in the backyard pool. On Halloween 2002, Jones made up Matt’s face like Ace Frehley of the rock band KISS and Matt’s friend like KISS band mate Gene Simmons.
Then, McIntosh says, Jones headed to Gipson’s, a popular Douglasville tavern.
Hours later, about midnight, a woman in a Betty Boop costume left Gipson’s to go to her car. Minutes later, Tina Mayberry staggered back to the bar. She had been stabbed repeatedly and died two hours later.
No strong suspects were identified until Jeremy Jones told investigators he did it. Her stepfather, Kenneth Timms, believes him.
“He had new information known only to the killer,” Timms said. “She fought furiously. In his confession he said, ‘She whipped my ass.’ “
Kerry McIntosh, who has since reunited with her husband, believes Jones had it in for women. He egged her husband on when the couple fought. “He’d say derogatory things about women, about putting them in their place, about smacking them down.” she said.
One of his favorite jokes, John McIntosh said, was, “What do you tell a woman with two black eyes? Nothing. You done told the bitch twice.”
Kerry felt frustrated because people continually stood up for Jones. “His co-workers at Young Refinery used to rag me for dogging John,” she said. They even threw him a birthday barbecue. At 5-feet-8 , 170 sinewy pounds, many see him as a “man’s man kind of guy,” she said.
Jones contends the man admired by his former co-workers is who he really is: “I’m a likable guy; I’m the guy next door,” he said in an interview. “I’m the guy who barbecues with you. I’m the guy who you call at 3 a.m. to help pull your car out of a ditch.”
But McIntosh saw a seedier side. “He’d go pick up a couple of drunk girls and go to a hotel,” he recalled. Jones told him he often picked up prostitutes on Fulton Industrial Boulevard. “The monster came out when he was on meth.”
Jeremy Jones agrees about meth’s hold. “It’s a sexual drug, an ecstasy; you’re on top of the world,” Jones said. “It multiplies everything.”
In early 2003, Jones brought home a woman from a bar. McIntosh said she left quickly. About 5 a.m., police called. “She said he tried to strangle and rape her,” McIntosh recalled. He and Jones went to the station. The woman’s story was inconsistent. “I vouched for him,” he said. “We didn’t hear anything after that.”
McIntosh could see Jones wrestling with himself. He was addicted to meth and sex but seemed to be looking for redemption.
He attended church a few times with a co-worker. “He kept saying he wanted a good woman who would cook and clean for him, who would do what he would tell her to do. I told him he wouldn’t find that woman in bars.”
Love and Terror
But it was at Gipson’s that Jeremy Jones found Vicki Freeman. He told her he’d been admiring her from afar. Their first date was dinner at the Olive Garden and a movie.
“He’s kind, gentle, very loving,” said Freeman. “I mean, he always put me first. Always thought of me. Little cards and ‘I love yous’ here and there.”
They moved into an apartment in Villa Rica in September 2003, and Jones introduced himself to the neighbors.
“We were barbecuing outside, he walked up toting a beer and played with our little dog,” said Nita Godfrey.
Days later, Jones met Godfrey’s 18-year-old daughter, Brittney. He knew many details about her, which Brittney found odd. She asked her mother why she had told a stranger so much. Her mother said she hadn’t.
One day at the apartment complex, Vicki called the police. “She was scared Mr. Chapman was going to hurt her really bad,” the report states. She did not press charges.
Police returned when a neighbor called to say Jones was “wigging out.” Jones told police he was on a two-week meth bender. He had shot up two grams of meth and was trying to kill himself. A psychological profile prepared for his murder trial says Jones has been in hospitals or mental health facilities at least four times because of drug use. He said he has advanced liver damage from hepatitis C, contracted from intravenous drug use.
Villa Rica police also arrested Jones in October 2003 for allegedly exposing himself to Brittney Godfrey. She told police she was “scared of Mr. Chapman” because he repeatedly came to her apartment, turning the doorknob, trying to get inside.
He’d appear in the morning, after her mother left for work. “One day he’d be at the front door, the next day, the back,” she said. Some mornings he sat outside his apartment drinking beer and talking to himself.
Later, the Godfreys said, they found a box outside Brittney’s bedroom window. It contained rope, tape and binoculars.
The Slip Ups
Jeremy Jones worried his luck had run out. “I’d get picked up in Georgia and would be sweating; they’ll find me out now,” he later confided to McRae. “But then they’d come in and say, ‘OK, John, you’ve made bond.’ “
Three times after arrests in Douglas and Carroll counties in 2003 and 2004, the FBI’s national computer database failed to detect that Jones, posing as Chapman, was wanted. The FBI is investigating the foul-up.
Jones laughs about his good fortune. “That little fingerprint system they have is a joke,” he said.
The mistake may have been fatal. In fact, his alleged rampage accelerated.
Two months after the last botched check, Amanda Greenwell disappeared from Arbor Village, a mobile home park near Douglasville. Jeremy Jones and his girlfriend lived in a nearby trailer.
Amanda’s body was found a month later, in April 2004, in nearby woods. She had been stabbed and her neck was broken.
That same month, Patrice Endres, the Forsyth County hairdresser, disappeared from her shop. Jones later told detectives he got lost driving and happened upon her isolated business. He asked for directions, then took advantage of the situation. He said he kidnapped her and brought her to Douglas County, where he raped and killed her and then dumped her body by a creek. She has not been found.
Sgt. McRae doesn’t think Jones found Endres by happenstance.
“He’s a stalker; he gets excited about his victims,” said McRae, who has spent hours talking to Jones. “He’ll talk about killing a person like it’s a 10-point buck.”
“He grew to enjoy [the killing],” added McRae. “It was as addictive as the meth.”
In early 2004, Jones often called McIntosh at odd hours. “He was going downhill fast. He’d say, ‘John, I [screwed] up again.’ I assumed it was because of drugs. But I wonder if he was talking about something else.”
Telltale Phone Calls
In September 2004, Jones saw an opportunity back in Mobile. Hurricane Ivan was coming, and he figured there would be construction work when it was over. “I wanted to come down here, live on the beach and live happily ever after,” he said.
He drove to Mobile, and phoned Vicki Freeman back in Georgia. It was Friday, Sept. 17, and Jones told her he had landed a job. “I told him how proud I was of him,” Freeman recalled. “I told him to get us a place to live, and I’d be joining him.”
Jeremy Jones made the call with a phone belonging to Lisa Nichols, a 45-year-old woman who lived next to his old boss, Bentley. Shortly afterward, she was raped, shot and set on fire.
Two days later, Mobile County detectives arrested Jones. Later, he phoned his mother from the jail. Authorities traced the call and discovered his true identity.
Detectives McRae and Burch laugh when asked how they control interviews with Jones. “He controls them; we cannot control him,” McRae said. “Nobody, absolutely nobody will ever get the truth. He sugarcoats everything. He just runs all over the place.”
Kim Bentley now wakes up terrified, thinking what could have happened to her and her teenage stepdaughter.
Bentley said Jones “has been adamant me and him had a relationship,” which she denies. “Every woman he came in contact with — [he believed] they wanted him. In his mind it wasn’t rape if they wanted him.”
Like others who took Jones in, Bentley feels violated. “I’ll never think the same about anybody,” she said. “He seemed like he believed he was somebody else. Maybe he wanted a new life but he couldn’t get away from who he really was.”
McIntosh has much the same feeling of betrayal. “I let this monster into my house,” he said.
McIntosh believes Jones’ rambling confessions are a way to regain a glint of the power and sexual satisfaction he once felt.
“I think he enjoys telling it to police; they tell me they can see it in his eyes. He’s reliving it.”
As for Jones, he talks of winning his case on appeal. He now denies he killed anybody in Georgia or anyplace else.
“One day I’ll be a free man,” he said. “I’ll write me a book and laugh my ass off.”
Jeremy Jones is Sentenced to Death In Alabama
December 01, 2005
Serial killer Jeremy Jones of Miami was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of an Alabama woman.
Jones is also a suspect in the 1995 deaths of Danny and Kathy Freeman in northeastern Oklahoma and the disappearance of 16-year-old Ashley Freeman and Loria Bible. Ashley Freeman was the couple’s daughter and Bible was a friend.
The Freeman couple were found dead in their burned mobile home in Welch in December 1999 and the two girls were missing. Authorities say Jeremy Jones has told them he took the girls to rural southeastern Kansas, killed them and dumped their bodies in an abandoned mine but their bodies have never been found.
Jones also is charged with murders in Georgia and Louisiana.
Jeremy Jones Learn His Fate
December 01, 2005
In October, a Mobile County jury recommended Jones of Miami, Oklahoma, be given the death penalty for the rape, shooting, and burning of the body of 44-year-old Lisa Nichols of Turnerville. He also has been officially charged with two murder cases in Georgia and Louisiana.
NBC 15 News has learned Alabama Attorney General Troy King intends to personally present prosecution arguments in favor of giving Jones the death penalty during Thursday’s court hearing. “He was a monster,” said King, whose office prosecuted Jeremy Jones. “He was able to lie without remorse, kill without remorse. The only remorse I ever saw him show was for himself, which shows what kind of man he is.”
Law enforcement officials say Jones’ road to becoming a serial killer started in 1992 with the stabbing death of Jennifer Judd in Baxter Springs, Kansas, then in 1996 with the shooting deaths of Daniel Oakley and Doris Harris, in rural Delaware County. Jones says he then drugged Justin Hutchings in Pitcher, Oklahoma in 1999.
Three months later, he says he shot Danny and Kathy Freeman in Welch, Oklahoma and also shot Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible and dumped their bodies in Kansas.
He moved to Georgia and says he stabbed Tina Mayberry to death in 2002, followed by Katherine Collins in New Orleans who was strangled and stabbed in 2004.
A few months later, he says he also strangled and stabbed Amanda Greenwell in Georgia. The next month, he says he murdered Patrice Endres in Georgia. Then, a few months later, he shot and set on fire, Lisa Nichols in Alabama.
This year, authorities searched a pond in Chickasaw for bodies of some missing prostitutes and searched mines in Kansas for the bodies of Freeman and Bible, but found nothing.
Police think there are even more bodies out there. Mobile County Sheriff Jack Tillman: “There’s other cases that fit his profile, not just here, but everywhere he roamed around.”
Federal and county officials say Jones was in the area of each crime and knew information that only someone closely involved could have known.
If Judge Graddick agrees with the jury’s recommendation, Jones will immediately be transferred to death row at Holman Prison in Atmore.
In 2005, Jeremy Bryan Jones was sentenced to death for the 2004 rape and murder of his 45-year-old neighbor, Lisa Nichols. That sentence was upheld in 2010 by the Alabama Appeals Court, according to the Associated Press.