DSS received three reports about Jones children

Jones children. (Source: Tom Round)
Jones children. (Source: Tom Round)

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Social Services went to the home of Tim Jones, Jr. three times in three years, according to documents released by DSS.

The 50-page case file on the Jones family was released around 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

The first case of possible abuse was reported on Sept. 5, 2011 after Jones and his wife, Amber, took the children to Mississippi where Jones' family lived.

According to the file, a caseworker went to the house on Russell Rowe Road in Leesville on Sept. 22, 2011 and no one answered the door. The caseworker reported seeing "several piles of junk piled up in the fron (sic) yard and back yard." The report says tools were found lying throughout the house within reach of the children.

The caseworker returned in October 2011 and read Mrs. Jones "the allegations which are the children are not attending school, they are always dirty and there were concerns with the home since the yard is dirty w/ (sic) trash in it," the report says.

Amber Jones reportedly told the caseworker that the kids were not old enough to attend school and they were homeschooling them through the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools. She also told the case worker that they were trying to fix up the house and "they are doing the best they can do" about the clutter in the house.

Amber Jones also told the coworker the children often stayed at a neighbor's house during the day due to the condition of the home.

The report says the caseworker "completed a safety plan Mrs. Jones that she and Mrs. Jones (sic) were to clean the home up and the [caseworker] would be back."

When the caseworker returned the next day, the report says the house had been cleaned.

"[Caseworker] stated that they had done a great job and that they needed to keep it up," said the report.

On an unannounced home visit later that month, a caseworker talked to Tim Jones, Jr. on the phone and he became hostile and told the case worker he was ruining people's lives and after consulting with an attorney he didn't let have to let DSS in the home.

The caseworker reported the home to be "even more cluttered," and "implemented a safety plan that the children could not be in the home."

On a return visit a few days later, the caseworker reported the house was "VERY VERY VERY CLEAN (sic)."

The report says in 2011, the Jones family moved to the area because of Tim's job transfer and they had no family support.

"The only person they have as support system are the (redacted) neighbor and church friends," said the report

DSS said it made a referral to Mississippi Department of Family Services and closed the case on Oct. 16, 2012.

DSS said it heard nothing more about the family until it received a second report on May 5, 2014.

According the file, one of the children told the case worker "they will have to do push ups for punishment and other exercises. She stated that she is not afraid of her dad."

Lexington County DSS and two deputies from the Lexington County Sheriff's Department jointly interviewed the father at the DSS office.

During the interview, the report says Jones "stated (name redacted) is very clumsy and will bruise esy (sic)...that he grabbed the back of the shirt and spanked him but his pants were on."
On a return visit in June, the report says "CM again reviewed safety plan with Mr. Jones regarding no physical disciplin (sic) which he understood. Children were observed to be comfortable around Mr. Jones."

Law Enforcement did not take emergency protective custody of the children, according to DSS, and the case considered "Unfounded" and was closed July 24.

A few weeks later, DSS received a report about possible physical abuse.

DSS and two officers from the Lexington County Sheriff's Department went to the home Aug. 7 and examined the children.

Law enforcement did not take emergency protective custody.

According to an August report, a case worker observed Jones to be overwhelmed "as he is unable to maintain the home but the children appear to be clean, groomed and appropriately dressed."

At a news conference Wednesday morning, a spokesperson for DSS said the agency had 45 days to conduct a follow-up visit, which had not yet been done.

The case remained open when the sheriff's department sought assistance from DSS on Sept. 3 with locating the children and the father.

On Tuesday, the bodies of the five children were found wrapped in garbage bags along a dirt road in Wilcox County, Alabama, Lexington County Sheriff Lewis McCarty said.

Jones led authorities to the bodies after being arrested during a traffic stop in Mississippi.

Authorities say Jones will be charged with murder when he's returned to South Carolina. 

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