LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The bodies of five missing Lexington County kids have been found in garbage bags off of a dirt road in Alabama, and the children's father is in law enforcement custody after authorities say he led them to the remains Tuesday.
Lexington County deputies in cooperation with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local and state law enforcement agencies in Alabama and Mississippi recovered what detectives believe are five sets of human remains.
The bodies were found around 5:00 p.m. in a rural area off of Highway 10 near Camden, Alabama in Wilcox County.
Officials in Alabama and Mississippi declined to say how the children were killed or how long the bodies had been there. They did say the children were decomposed and were found in individual plastic garbage bags.
"We did find what we believed to be five bodies all piled up in one pile," Smith County Sheriff Charlie Crumpton said.
A staging area for officers who were searching for the kids was in place for hours Tuesday afternoon in Butler County, Alabama but the scene quickly moved over the county line to Wilcox County once the discovery was made.
Butler County Sheriff Kenny Hardin said the children's father, 32-year-old Timothy Ray Jones, Jr., told Mississippi authorities that he dumped the bodies on Highway 10 between Camden and Greenville.
Wilcox County District Attorney Michael Jackson told WIS sister station WSFA that he believes the children, ages 1 through 8, were killed in South Carolina, and said the bodies would eventually be taken back to Lexington County.
Lexington County Sheriff Lewis McCarty said detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Jones on a charge of unlawful neglect of a child by a legal custodian. Detectives expect to obtain additional arrest warrants for Jones as the investigation remains active and ongoing, the sheriff said.
Sheriff's department detectives, SLED agents and FBI agents traveled from South Carolina to Mississippi and Alabama on Sunday, September 7 and gathered information and evidence in Mississippi and Alabama in connection with the disappearance of the children, McCarty said.
Jones was being held on Tuesday at the Smith County Jail in Raleigh, Miss. on charges connected to a motor vehicle public safety checkpoint that Smith County Sheriff's Office deputies conducted on September 6, McCarty said.
Jones, who appeared to be under the influence, was questioned at the checkpoint by a Smith County deputy about an odor of chemicals coming from his vehicle, deputies said. After further investigation, the deputy found what appeared to be chemicals used to make meth and a street drug known as "Spice."
Deputies detained Jones Saturday evening at the public safety checkpoint and contacted the Lexington County Sheriff's Department after determining that Jones and his five children were listed as missing persons on the National Crime Information Center computer database. The children were not with Jones when deputies detained Jones.
Investigators say Jones appeared to be under the influence of drugs at the time of his arrest and his Cadillac Escalade was blood-soaked and "smelled of death."
"It was a smell of dry blood possibly and some body fluids mixed with some chemicals," Crumpton said. "That's what it appeared to be at that time."
The children's mother reported Jones and the kids missing to the sheriff's department around 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 3, McCarty said.
Deputies entered the five children and Jones as missing persons on the National Crime Information Center computer database.
The five children lived at a home near Lexington with Jones, who is the children's primary legal custodian.
Neighbors told deputies that Jones said he was moving with his children from his home near Lexington to another state. Jones' father said the last time the children were seen was August 28.
Jones remains in custody in Mississippi. McCarty said detectives will return Jones to Lexington County.
Prosecutors described Jones was a computer genius who said the kids were plotting to kill him.
Investigators say they found notes of violence against the children.