The mother and grandmother of a former Elkhart County woman and her four children who were slain in Florida says she believes "the monster" who killed them was texting her with her daughter's phone after she was killed to make it seem as though everyone was OK.
"My babies are gone," Nikki Jones said by telephone Tuesday from Florida, still trying to gather her composure. "My sweet little grandbabies are gone."
The remains of Casei Jones, 32, who lived in Marion County, Florida, were found in Brantley County, Georgia, on Monday, according to police. She and her four children were reported missing by family members on Saturday.
When Casei Jones lived in Elkhart County, her last name was Gilbert, and she graduated from Elkhart Memorial High School in 2005, according to Elkhart Community Schools.
Jones' children range in age from 1 to 10. They are Cameron Bowers, 10, Preston Bowers, 5, Mercalli Jones, 2, and Aiyana Jones, 1.
After she and her children were reported missing, detectives named Jones' husband, Michael Wayne Jones Jr., 38, as a person of interest. On Sunday, Jones Jr. was located in Brantley County, Georgia, following a traffic incident. Police found Casei Jones' remains in the vehicle.
Michael Jones later led police to the remains of four children. Though the children had not been positively identified, detectives believed they are the remains of the four missing children.
Michael Jones has been charged with second degree murder in Marion County.
Based on the evidence located during the investigation and interviews with Michael Jones, Marion County Sheriff’s Office detectives said they believe he killed the victims in Marion County at their Summerfield home.
Detectives said they believe he stored the bodies at his home and in his van for several weeks before transporting them to Georgia, but Casei Jones' mother, who also lives in Florida, disputed the length of time since she last saw her daughter alive.
"We did video-chat all the time," she said. "We didn't wait six weeks, like they're saying."
Nikki Jones said text messages from her daughter's phone in the days before she contacted police suggested her daughter was ill and that she could not video-chat with the grandchildren.
"That's when I got suspicious and called police," she said.
Nikki Jones said the family lived in Goshen and Elkhart for 37 years and that her father is buried in the veterans cemetery in Goshen. She said she moved to Florida about 10 years ago, not far from where her daughter lived, and described her as a loving and caring person.
"She would give you the shirt off her back," she said. "She had the most beautiful smile. I'm just shattered. People don't know how heartbroken I am."
Jon Gard contributed to this story. Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus