Testimony: The Laurel woman pressured her husband to “do something” about the man’s behavior

HARTINGTON – The day before Jason Jones shot four Laurel residents to death and set their homes on fire, he and his wife, Carrie Jones, got into a heated argument.

The comings and goings escalated to the point where Carrie Jones held a knife to her husband’s neck and pointed a loaded gun at him. The reason? According to Brad Higgins, sergeant in the criminal division of the Nebraska State Patrol, Carrie Jones was fed up that Jason Jones hadn’t done enough to address her concerns about the alleged harassment of Gene Twiford, one of the four victims of the August 4 killings. .

Higgins was one of four witnesses who testified Wednesday afternoon during a pre-trial hearing in the Cedar County courthouse in the case of Carrie Jones, 43, charged with one count of first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and being an accomplice to a crime.

Jason Jones, 42, is facing four counts each of first-degree murder and using a firearm to commit a felony, plus two counts of first-degree arson. He allegedly broke into a home occupied by Twiford, 86, his wife, Janet Twiford, 85, and their daughter, Dana Twiford, 55, at 503 Elm St. in Laurel, along with the home of Michele Ebeling , 53, at 209 Elm St., shooting the four victims and setting fire to their homes.

Jason Jones was arrested at his home, located across the street from Ebeling’s, by the state patrol’s SWAT team the day after the murders. He was found with severe burns and was treated for 12 weeks in a Lincoln hospital before being discharged and taken to the Nebraska Department of Corrections Reception and Treatment Center in Lincoln, where he is being held without bail.

Higgins, who previously worked as an investigator with the patrol, spoke with Carrie Jones at her home on Aug. 11. and Ebeling.

Earlier, on Aug. 11, Carrie Jones had voluntarily met with investigators at the State Patrol Troop B headquarters in Norfolk. Investigator Tony Kavan asked Carrie Jones about a knife and .57 caliber pistol that were found in the Twifords’ residence, as well as a .44 caliber pistol that was found in the Joneses’ bedroom at their home.

Carrie Jones had identified each of the weapons as having belonged to her husband; detectives had already traced the weapons back to Jason Jones.

Carrie Jones revealed in her Norfolk interview that she got home from work in North Sioux City around 3 a.m. on Aug. 4. She saw an orange glow coming from the Ebeling residence, she said, and later saw a man fleeing the residence. The man was Jason Jones.

Higgins said Carrie Jones revealed during both of her conversations with authorities on Aug. 11 that her husband was badly burned, so she helped him out of his clothes and ran him a bath. Carrie Jones had also bandaged Jason Jones’ wounds and later helped him sleep, she told investigators.

But Carrie Jones was initially unavailable during questioning. Authorities were looking for her clothes that she said she helped her husband remove, as well as potential footwear that Jason Jones had been wearing.

She initially said she put her husband’s clothes and shoes in a trash bag and threw them out of the bathroom, but she had no idea where the bag had gone. Investigators have never been able to find her clothes.

Also, on the morning of the murders, Carrie Jones told Laurel Police Chief Ron Lundahl that she did not see a person or vehicle leave the Ebeling home, contrary to what she said in her Aug. 11 conversation with the detectives in Norfolk, they saw a man ran away from home.

On August 16, Higgins and investigator Tim Doggett went to the Jones home to further question Carrie Jones. Authorities were still searching for the clothes Jason Jones was wearing on the night of the murders. That’s when Carrie Jones began divulging information she hadn’t previously disclosed—not to Lundahl, not to the detectives who questioned her at Cubby’s in Laurel on Aug. 5, or even during her conversation with authorities. on August 11th.

Carrie Jones changed her mind when she began describing a new version of events, Higgins testified. She had become emotional and her tone of voice had changed.

When Carrie Jones returned home from work, she said she heard three shots and noticed her husband fleeing the Ebeling home.

Jason Jones reportedly told his wife that he had shot Ebeling and previously stayed at the Twifords.

Higgins said Carrie Jones also alleged that, for the past three years, Gene Twiford had regularly dropped by the Jones home and would make comments of a sexual nature. She described what Twiford had harassed her and said, “This (expletive) has to stop or I’ll kill him.”

Carrie Jones had previously discussed her displeasure over Twiford’s alleged behavior with her husband. She believed Jason Jones hadn’t done enough to get Twiford to stop driving past their house and yelling at her.

Jason Jones’ apparent lack of initiative and Carrie Jones’ subsequent disappointment led to the couple’s heated argument on Aug. 3 involving a knife and a firearm.

“He put the clip in and then he decanted it,” Higgins said of the gun, “and he pulled the thing back. The purpose was to make him react. She wanted him to feel something and know he was in pain. He said he had to stop. …she would have taken care of it if she hadn’t stopped.

Apparently Carrie Jones didn’t tell her husband to kill Gene Twiford, but she did say that if he didn’t, then she would.

Higgins testified that Jason Jones did not know that Janet and Dana Twiford existed and did not expect them to be at the Twiford residence.

As for Ebeling and her boyfriend, Brian Welch, who wasn’t home when Ebeling was killed, Higgins said Carrie Jones described the couple as giving her “weird vibes.” But she didn’t reveal any kind of conflict the Joneses had with Ebeling and Welch.

Higgins said Carrie Jones also claimed she accidentally got rid of the clothes her husband was wearing on the night of the murders.

Surveillance footage from three different businesses — two in Laurel and one in Sioux City — apparently shows Jason Jones buying gasoline and containers of red gas. Canisters of red gas were found at both murder scenes.

INVESTIGATORS CONDUCTED an additional interview with Carrie Jones on December 8. Authorities were waiting for data extractions from the Joneses’ devices to complete.

Prosecutors have presented screenshots of alleged conversations between the Jones couple.

The conversation appears to show multiple occasions in which the Joneses texted each other about Gene Twiford, some of which were sent on Aug. 3, the day the pair had been feuding.

“I just saw that old (expletive) drive by him either cubby or dollar general fyi,” Carrie Jones reportedly wrote to her husband. Jason Jones replied with “Nice”.

Michael Maseth, an investigator with the Nebraska attorney general’s office and former FBI agent, testified Wednesday that the data he reviewed from Jason Jones’ phone showed he passed both Cubby’s and Dollar General after receiving the message from Carrie Jones. Also, there was a photo on Jason Jones’ phone taken from a vehicle that appears to show the vehicle Gene Twiford was driving that day parked in front of a downtown building.

Maseth said investigators identified conversations between the Joneses that had referenced Gene Twiford dating back to March 2022.

A message purportedly sent by Carrie Jones said she needed sniper training and could “shoot” Twiford at her home from her home. Jason Jones reportedly sent a reply saying he really hated (expletive) Twiford and could kill him.

Carrie Jones, according to testimony on Wednesday, deleted a text conversation between her and her husband on Aug. 3. Her explanation for doing this was to “wipe” her phone.

During her Dec. 8 interview with detectives, Carrie Jones reportedly revealed again that she wanted to “get rid of the problem.” She was arrested on December 16th.

The Nebraska Assistant Attorney General has asked County Judge Douglas Luebe to tie each of Carrie Jones’ charges in the District Court. Prosecutors weren’t trying to prove she was the main culprit, O’Brien said, but instead that she was an aide and an accomplice. Nebraska law allows prosecutors to charge aides and accomplices in first-degree murder as if they were the primary perpetrators.

For Carrie Jones to be convicted of first-degree murder, the state must prove that Jason Jones committed first-degree murder; that Carrie Jones participated in or encouraged Jason Jones to commit first-degree murder; that Jason Jones had intent to commit first-degree murder; and that Carrie Jones either knew of her intentions or possessed the intention herself to kill Gene Twiford.

“He makes it clear that he had specific intent to kill him to get rid of the problem,” O’Brien said. “And that problem was for Gene Twiford to stop verbally harassing her.”

Nebraska law does not require someone to actually be present and commit a physical act to be guilty of inciting or encouraging someone to commit a crime.

O’Brien claimed there was enough evidence to prove that Carrie Jones had tampered with text messages, as well as throwing out Jason Jones’ clothes.

Carrie Jones had also been told by her husband that he had perpetrated the murders, O’Brien said, and that he knew there had been a fire at the Ebeling home and that her husband had severe burns. She was harboring someone who had committed an “evil act,” she said.

“Frankly, I think the evidence would seem to suggest, but for Carrie Jones and her grievance with Gene Twiford, Jason Jones has little reason to want anything to do with Gene Twiford,” O’Brien said. Had it not been for her encouragement and his provocation?

Nate Stratton, one of two attorneys representing Carrie Jones, said his client was trying to get Jason Jones’ attention, not encourage him to kill.

“He takes no part in buying the gasoline or gas cans used to commit the crimes,” Stratton said. “…I don’t think there was any intention or encouragement to go and kill four people in two burnt houses.”

Luebe, after the state rested, said he would need 10 to 15 minutes to decide whether Carrie Jones’ case should go to district court. In an order filed after the hearing, the judge wrote that probable cause existed to bind her case.

Carrie Jones is due to be arraigned on Monday, February 27.

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