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  • Deborah Grey

Tim Jones Jr.’s family lived a “rough” life

By Mark Bellune


Tim Jones Jr.’s family history was full of rape, prostitution, violence and alcohol and drug abuse.
That was what a licensed clinical social worker testified in court Tuesday in the death penalty phase of the Red Bank father’s trial.
Timothy Ray Jones Jr. was found guilty of murdering his children ages 1-8 last week in a Lexington.
A jury is expected to decide soon whether he should  be executed for his crimes or spend the rest of his life in prison. For the latest visit
Deborah Grey told the jury both sides of the family exposed him to harmful experiences as he grew up.
Since he was 3, Jones’ “default mother” was his grandmother Roberta Thornsberry after his father gained custody of him.
Grey testified:
• Thornsberry went to an orphanage at 3 then retrieved when her mom remarried. Her stepfather beat her and began raping her at 8. She bore 3 of his children at age 11, 14 and 16, including Jones’ father. 
The stepfather took her from her mom at 11, forced her to marry him at 16 and forced her into prostitution.
• She escaped the stepfather and ran across the country hiding from him with the 3 small children and her future husband Larry Thornsberry.
• She eventually married 3 times but returned to Larry, who Jones Sr. considers as his dad.
• Both Thornsberrys were arrested for possession of marijuana and cocaine.
• Thornsberry was an alcoholic who would go into violent rages in front of the elder and younger Jones during their younger years.
 • Despite it, “there was a lot of love and caring.”
• Jones Sr. left school at 16 and met Jones Jr.’s mother Cynthia and they married. Jones Jr. was born when she was 17.
• Jones Jr.’s mother was molested at 3 which continued with multiple men including her father.
• His mother left him in icy baths as a baby, refused to feed him adequately or change his diapers. She would leave him alone in a room screaming for food and new diapers. She gave him laxatives as a baby to cleanse his soul.
• His mother told Grey she turned to prostitution after leaving the family.
• His father drank, beat his stepmother and verbally berated him, even calling him a little mother f**ker.
• “This is a family that has learned to self medicate because of the pain they have been through.”
• Growing up Jones was forced to perform oral sex on a local man which caused him shame.
• He heard kind voices he called his imaginary friends beginning at 12 but they turned violent and urged him to kill himself.
• Jones was in 2 car accidents as a teen. One “dented” his right frontal lobe and the second reinjured it.
• He was arrested for marijuana possession in high school that he took from his father and “walked out in handcuffs.”
• He joined the Navy but was discharged in basic training for depression and substance abuse.
• He has tried a variety of drugs like heroin and cocaine.
• After the Navy he began using marijuana and alcohol heavily.
•While incarcerated in Illinois, he found religion in a prison boot camp “where he made a commitment to make a change in his life.”
•At 21 and out of jail he found a small Pentecostal Church near Chicago where he would speak in tongues.
•He told his grandmother his 3-year-old niece was possessed and if family members didn’t join his church and speak in tongues, they would go to hell.
•He went to community college and transferred to Mississippi State where he graduated summa cum laude.
• After continuing to worry about his mother, who left him as an infant, family members reunited them in Mississippi when he was 25.
Half brother Tyler said she was “crazy as a ball bat.”
Family found her in the backyard “fighting with her dead mother.”
“This scared him. He thought ‘Am I going to be like that?’”
Grey’s testimony continues Wednesday.


Mailing Address:
     PO Box 9 Lexington
     SC 29071
Street Address:
     131 Swartz Rd.
     Lexington SC 29072
Phone: 803-359-7633
Fax: 803-359-2936