The remains of 9-year-old Jon-Niece Jones needed a DNA test to identify her.
Some seven years after the discovery of a child’s skeleton in the Clayton Park area of Upper Freehold, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) has announced charges against three New York residents in connection with her death.
Likisha Jones, 39, of Manhattan; James Jones, 35, of Brooklyn; and Godfrey Gibson, 48, of Manhattan were arrested Tuesday and charged with hindering apprehension, tampering with physical evidence, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy, according to a press release issued by the MCPO. Gibson was also charged with a separate hindering count.
Prosecutors say the Harlem girl, born Sept. 5, 1992, suffered years of abuse and neglect at the hands of her mother, Elisha Jones. An investigation conducted by the MCPO and the New Jersey State Police found that Jones died on Aug. 15, 2002 in the apartment of her aunt, Likisha Jones.
Prosecutors say the child’s mother, her uncle, James Jones, and Likisha Jones’ boyfriend, Godfrey Gibson, brought her body to Upper Freehold Township and disposed of the remains after setting them on fire. Elisha Jones died of medical disease in December 2002, the press release stated.
On March 18, 2005, a hunter discovered a partially buried skull and jawbone near County Road 526 in the park, prosecutors said. The MCPO and State Police began a homicide investigation after the child’s skeleton was recovered. Jones’ homicide is being reviewed by the New York County District Attorney’s Office, according to the press release. The investigation came to be referred to as the “Baby Bones” case, prosecutor’s said.
"These arrests highlight the tireless efforts of detectives during this seven-year investigation," said Colonel Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the State Police, in the press release. "The family members of Jon-Niece Jones turned a blind eye to the constant physical and mental abuse this young girl endured for years. Because of the hard work by investigators, these three suspects will now have to answer for their alleged unthinkable actions."
Likisha Jones and James Jones are being held in Monmouth County Correctional Institution on $40,000 bail. Gibson’s bail has been set at $75,000.
The trio will make their initial appearance in court at 1:30 p.m. today at the Monmouth County Courthouse in Freehold before Judge Thomas F. Scully.
The New York Police Department Manhattan North Homicide Squad, the New York City Administration of Child Services, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, America’s Most Wanted, and the University of North Texas DNA Laboratory assisted in the investigation.