On Thanksgiving, the day authorities served a search warrant looking for a missing 7-year-old boy in Wyandotte County, Jeff Coon got a call from his daughter.
Heather Jones, 29, wasn’t crying. She wasn’t in a panic. Her father said she spoke as if she were having a routine conversation.
“She told me that Mike killed the little boy and it would be all over the news,” Coon said Tuesday. “He fed him to the pigs, is all she said. … She just told me it was going to be all over the news, and that’s the last time we talked.”
News soon hit that Michael A. Jones, 44 — Heather’s husband for about seven years — had been arrested and charged with child abuse, aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Authorities also were investigating the discovery of human remains in a barn near where the family lived in the 5200 block of North 99th Street. Those remains have not been identified.
In the days since, District Attorney Jerome A. Gorman has said, without elaborating, that the case “is one of the worst things” police investigators have ever seen. He said he expected more charges to be filed later against Jones, who is being held in the Wyandotte County jail on $10 million bond.
Jones is the owner of a bail bonding business, but he is not approved to operate in Wyandotte County.
Police were first summoned the day before Thanksgiving on an armed disturbance call. Officers soon learned that a 7-year-old boy, referred to in court records as A.J., had been missing for an extended period of time.
Coon said he and his daughter are estranged and he had last talked to her about six months ago. He said he initially was surprised that she had called on Thanksgiving and then he didn’t believe what she was saying.
“I don’t know if I didn’t want to believe her,” he said. “She was just calm, just like we’re talking now. That’s why I never gave it another thought.”
Coon doesn’t get Kansas City television stations at his central Kansas home. But late last week he eventually pulled up news websites and saw the reports. Since then, he has continued to watch for updates.
Late last week, authorities removed six young girls from the home. They range in age from 10 to younger than 2 and are now in protective custody.
“The children are safe,” said Chris Schneider, a spokesman with the district attorney’s office.
Four of the girls are the biological children of both Heather and Michael Jones, Coon said. The two other girls, as well as the little boy, A.J., are believed to be Michael Jones’ children from previous relationships.
The siblings who are school age reportedly were home-schooled. Information provided by the Kansas Department of Education showed that the home was registered as a non-accredited private school in July 2012. Documents show that Michael A. Jones was the custodian of record. He declared the school’s name as “Jones academy.”
When Jones initially registered the school, he used an address in Oskaloosa, Kan. He updated the address in October 2014 to the Kansas City, Kan., residence.
Ann Bush, a spokeswoman with the Department of Education, said home schools register with the state, but there’s no oversight in place.
“Basically, they have to file with us,” Bush said. “The only purpose for that is for the transfer of records.”
More than 30,000 non-accredited private schools are registered in Kansas, but not all are active, she said.
Now Coon is left to wonder what happened to the little boy he had met two or three times, and why.
He hadn’t been to his daughter’s home in two years. The last time he saw A.J., he said, the boy was sweet and seemed to stay close to him.
“I just don’t understand what that little boy had done to get what he got,” Coon said. “There’s no reason for it.”