After losing his way in the early 2000s, Timothy Jones Jr had turned his life around.
He’d had a difficult childhood and spent time in prison for drug offences.
But while behind bars, he’d discovered religion.
Once he was out, Timothy was devoutly loyal to the church – pledging to honour the bible with everything he did.
When he was 22, he met Amber Kyzer, then 19, at a fun park where they both worked.
By then Timothy was also pursuing a career in computing and, with his strict morals, it looked like he was going to be the perfect family man.
They started dating and married quickly, and it wasn’t long before Amber realised that Timothy had very traditional ideas about how a married woman should act.
Amber was expected to dress conservatively and raise lots of children.
Meanwhile, after getting a college degree, Timothy secured a job as a computer engineer earning more than $80,000 a year.
They settled in a mobile home in Lexington, South Carolina, and the couple went on to have five children.
Two daughters, Merah, eight, and Abigail, one.
And three boys, Elias, seven, Nahtahn, six, and Gabriel, two.
Timothy was seen to adore his children but was very strict with their upbringing.
He believed he should be raising his kids with a firm hand, and even when social services stepped in, he refused to stop smacking his children in order to discipline them.
But by 2014, the family were in an even greater crisis.
Feeling suffocated by Timothy’s demands, Amber had an affair with a 19-year-old neighbour.
Timothy was left shaken that his marriage had been torn apart by sin and, as the couple divorced, Timothy started hurtling on a downward spiral.
Smell of death
He was drinking too much and smoking synthetic marijuana, and quickly slipped back into old ways.
Still, when it came to the children, Timothy was granted primary custody.
Amber didn’t have a job or a driving licence, while Timothy had a hefty salary.
He was able to take the kids to Disney World and for days out at the beach, and pay for childcare when he worked.
It was decided it was in the children’s best interests to live with him.
Amber was devastated but did everything she could to show she could raise her kids.
She started to study, found a job and took driving lessons.
And every Saturday she would meet the children at a restaurant – under the watchful eye of Timothy.
He was using a string of babysitters to care for the children and Amber was determined she was going to get them back.
Then on 6 September, 2014, police stopped Timothy in his car at a traffic checkpoint in Smith County, Mississippi, because an officer noticed a terrible stench of decay coming from his vehicle.
It would later be described as the ‘smell of death’.
When the car was examined, they found synthetic marijuana along with blood and maggots.
They also discovered that Timothy’s children had been reported missing.
When asked where his children were, Timothy had a confession so horrific, it was hard to believe it was true.
He said that his children were dead – dumped in rubbish bags on a hillside in Alabama.
On the night of 28 August, 2014, Timothy said that he’d confronted his son Nahtahn about breaking an electrical outlet in his home.
Nahtahn had been terrified and had denied it but had tearfully confessed to his mum when she made her night-time call.
Timothy was furious and, to punish him, he forced his son to do various strenuous exercises for hours.
Later, the prosecution would say that Timothy was already angry with his son, who had wanted to live with his mum, so went into a ‘white hot rage’.
‘Daddy, I love you’
Timothy went on to claim that later that evening he’d found Nahtahn dead in his bed.
Although the cause of death is unknown, the boy had clearly suffered from the abuse.
For a couple of hours, Timothy didn’t know what to do.
He took his oldest child out to buy cigarettes, leaving the others with their brother’s body.
Timothy knew he would go to prison – so he decided to methodically strangle his remaining four children to death.
In taped interviews, Timothy said he was sending the children to ‘heaven together’.
But his actions were anything but compassionate and suggested he was either trying to cover up his crime or stop his ex-wife getting the children she so desperately wanted.
Timothy strangled Merah and Elias with his bare hands but used a belt to choke Gabriel and Abigail because his hands were too big.
Merah’s last heartbreaking words were, ‘Daddy, I love you.’
Afterwards, Timothy wrapped the children’s bodies in plastic, put them in bin bags and loaded the remains into his Cadillac Escalade.
He drove for nine days, through four states.
He bought drugs, and looked up countries that don’t extradite suspects back to the US.
He researched how to disintegrate bodies fast.
On day nine he dumped the bodies.
Amber’s world fell apart when she was told her five children were dead at the hands of their father.
This year, Timothy, 37, pleaded not guilty on grounds of insanity.
His lawyers said that Timothy was suffering from mental health issues and could be schizophrenic.
They said that his drug and alcohol abuse, and the fallout of his broken marriage, had made him lose grip of reality.
‘He’s crazy,’ his lawyer told the jury.
‘You can’t rationalise crazy. But at the time, he thought it was the right thing to do.’
But the prosecution said that Timothy knew exactly what he was doing.
He’d acted in rage when he’d punished Nahtahn – even ripping up his favourite Toy Story Woody doll which was found in shreds.
Probably because Nahtahn wanted to be with his mum.
‘The worst of the worst know killing your babies is obscene, outrageous and absolutely morally unacceptable,’ they said in court.
‘Jones did that in a matter of seconds.’
Emotions ran high when Amber testified about the breakdown of their marriage and the grief of losing her five children.
At one point she collapsed on the witness stand, hysterical, as she read a letter she’d written to her daughter.
‘My babies! My babies! Oh, God! I’m so sorry!’ she cried, inconsolable.
‘Why? Why? Why?’
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