‘I wish I had never let them go': Woman recalls last time she saw slain grandchildren alive

Investigators formally charged Michael Jones with the deaths of the four children yesterday.

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — A Marion County man accused of killing his wife and her four children faced a judge Tuesday. The judge denied bond for Michael Jones Jr.

“We want to make sure this is a solid case before it goes to court,” Sgt. Paul Bloom of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said during news conference. “He was stoic, very cold, pretty indifferent to it all.” 

Officials said an investigation into Michael Jones began Sept. 14 when they received a call from the family of Jones' wife, Casei, that she and her children were missing and had not been seen for at least six weeks.

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Watch Tuesday's news conference below:

Officials located Jones in Georgia the next day during a traffic incident, where he told officers that his wife's body was in the vehicle that he had just crashed. He later led detectives to the remains of the four children who were reported missing, authorities said.

“The amount of decomposition the time that this happened, so, the span of time between murders and when we discovered that, so it was some challenges there,” Bloom said.

Officials said after interviewing Jones, they believe he killed his wife in their Marion County home July 10, and killed his stepchildren, 10-year-old Cameron and 5-year-old Preston Bowers, the following day by strangulation.

Officials believe he killed his children, 2-year-old Aiyana and 1-year-old Mercalli Jones, two weeks later by drowning them.

Casei Jones’ mother, Nikki Jones, told Channel 9 that Michael Jones was posting to his wife's Facebook in August, pretending to her.
“I can’t even fathom why anyone would do that to kids,” grandmother Nikki Jones said. “I never thought I’d be a mother of a murdered baby.”
Nikki Jones said the two youngest children had been staying with her shortly before they were killed. She said she got a message from who she thought was her daughter, saying that Michael Jones Jr. would pick up the kids.
But deputies said at that point, Casei Jones was already dead.

Nikki Jones said that was the last time she saw the children.

"I feel like it's my fault, but everyone says it's not. But as a grandmother, I wish I had never let them go," she said.

He left the bodies in his home for a few weeks before placing them in his van and keeping them there for two weeks, before driving with their bodies to Georgia, authorities said.

Jones faces four counts of first-degree premeditated murder in the deaths of the four children, in addition to the second-degree murder charge in his wife's death. His next court date is scheduled for Nov. 12.