“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.” ~Erica Jong
The main calling of a social worker is to improve life quality and to protect children from injustice; but what happens when our protectors aren’t doing their job? Timothy Ray Jones, 32, is accused of murdering his own five children. Yet social workers had been called, numerous times, to the Jones household due to complaints of abuse and neglect. In fact, the Department of Social Services had been called a mere two weeks before the children were reported missing.
Jones gained custody of his five children after divorcing his wife, who had been having an extramarital affair with their neighbor. Because his wife had no job and no driver’s license, and Jones had a steady employment from Intel working as a computer engineer, the court system decided in his favor. Multiple reports were released to the press stating that Jones appeared to be “overwhelmed” and that he was unable to “maintain his household.”
On Aug. 28, Jones picked up his children from school and that’s when they were last seen. The children’s mother reported them missing on Sept. 3, but officials held off initiating an Amber Alert because it wasn’t the first time she had trouble contacting Jones. An Amber Alert gives children a fighting chance to be found and possibly halts a heinous crime.. Three days later, Jones was arrested at a routine police checkpoint and since he appeared to be under the influence officers checked his car. They found marijuana, bleach, children’s clothing, muriatic acid and body fluids.
For the first two nights of his arrest Jones tried convincing police officers that his children were fine and that they were “taken care of.” He eventually confessed to the murders and led officers to a ditch along a dirt road. The children were found, unburied and in various states of decomposition. It is believed that Jones rode for multiple nights and through multiple states with his children’s rotting corpses in his trunk.
Unfortunately many tragedies, similar to this, seem to be frequenting news headlines all over the world. The fact that a portion of these incidents are preventable is even scarier. In 2005, there were 555 cases of infancide in the United States. According to the Bureau of Justice statistics a staggering 60 percent of those children were murdered by their own parents. If social services take a deeper look into cases in which officials were called multiple times to a household then maybe a crime like this could have been prevented. Throughout the multiple visits by social services someone should have exerted a care for these children, and removed them from this dangerous household environment. As these officers look back on their reports many of them will hopefully realize the devastating effects of overlooking signs of mental illness and neglect. And maybe next time they will learn how to save a life.