Tracking device leads to arrest in woman's killing

Tracking device leads to arrest in woman's killing

April 13th, 2013 by Tyler Jett in Local Regional News

Jimmy Byron Jones Jr.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Coffee County, Tenn., Sheriff's Detective Chad Parton placed a phone call April 4. It had been a month since someone last saw the victim and more than three weeks since police found her body. Officers had a suspect, but they didn't have evidence, so Parton grasped for something, anything.

Finally, a breakthrough. Jimmy Byron Jones Jr., a registered sex offender, wore a tracking device around his ankle, said the man on the other line, Jones' probation officer.

"I was ecstatic," Parton said. "I know how accurate those are. We've used them to track down people before."

A few minutes after that first conversation, the probation officer called Parton back. "Do you know anything about Fire Tower Road?" he asked the detective. Parton did.

The road led to Summitville Cave, where on March 9 police found the burned remains of Connie Lou Godsey Brown, of McMinnville, Tenn. She was 58.

The GPS data on Jones' tracking device indicated he went to the rock quarry twice in early March. And on Thursday night, a week after that phone call to the probation officer, the Coffee County Sheriff's Office and Tennessee Bureau of Investigations arrested Jones, 51, of Morrison, Tenn., on charges of first-degree murder.

Jones admitted Thursday that he was "involved with" the crime, Parton said.

Officers do not know the extent of Brown's relationship with Jones. Her friends told officers she recently talked about this man she had been seeing named "Jimmy." Apparently, Parton said, the man saw her walking down the road one afternoon and picked her up in his car.

None of Brown's friends saw her after March 1. That morning, Parton said, she worked on paperwork when her roommate left to visit his doctor. When the roommate returned, she was gone, leaving a note about how much work she finished.

After officers found Brown's body, investigators checked phone records and saw that Jones called her March 1. Police questioned him, but he denied knowing anything about Brown, or where she lived, or the body found at the rock quarry.

But records from his tracking device told Parton that Jones had, in fact, been to Brown's house on March 1. He also went to the rock quarry for several hours twice that week: first on March 1, then on March 4.

Officers do not know when Brown died. Parton speculated that Brown and Jones visited the quarry together alive the first time and then he came back again with her body. Or perhaps something else happened. Either way, an autopsy revealed, Brown died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Jones is booked in the Coffee County Jail on a bond of $2 million and is scheduled to appear in court at 9 a.m. CDT April 22. He was convicted of a 1998 rape in Wilson County, Parton said, and was released from prison in September. Parton does not know of any further criminal history.

"Let the lawyers worry about all that," he said. "I just want him locked up."

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.cwwom or 423-757-6476.