AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– It’s been four years since since the tragic death of three family members from Hephzibah, Georgia. And for the first time, the Jones’ family is speaking out about their murders.
Roosevelt, Edna and Russell Jones were shot and killed in their home, and then their bodies were burned in a field. Their son, Ryan Jones, is charged in their murders.
Some people believe Ryan has serious mental health problems. Saturday, Jones family members and friends came together to celebrate the three lives lost while informing the community about mental health.
“So, we can no longer be silent about this, you know? It happened four years ago with our family, and they would have wanted us to make sure others knew. That’s just how my dad was built,” Steve Jones, Edna and Roosevelt’s son, said.
He said Saturday’s Mental Break Walk will raise awareness about mental illness– all in honor of his loved ones who were tragically killed.
“Three of our family members are no longer with us as a result. Our brother Ryan Jones… there were signs and symptoms that we saw, again, after the fact. It was more so after the fact, and it was just too late at that point in time,” Robyn Woods, Edna and Roosevelt’s daughter, said.
You will find no tears at Saturday’s Mental Break Walk. The event was filled with dancing, celebrating and encouraging.
Aleiya Butler, a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and a future Psychiatrist, explained Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia are the two most significant depressive disorders in the U.S. She said hallucinations, dillusions and personality changes are common characteristics of Schizophrenia.
“Paranoia: believing that people are trying to harm them or out to get them, and this, in no way, could be realistic. Also abnormal functioning and behavior like drawing, staring off, sitting in their room alone often,” Butler explained.
She also said Bipolar Disorder has a depressive component paired with mania.
“This is characterized by days or weeks of not needing to sleep, talking really fast, thoughts moving really fast, more irratic behavior. They feel very full of themselves. Way past what you would expect from a healthy self-esteem,” Butler explained.
She urged everyone to call 9-1-1 if someone has these behaviors or appears life- threatening.
“For us, this a part of that healing process because we’re still in the process of healing. We are a very close, tight-knit family, so the relationship, it means a lot to us,” Woods said.
Ryan Jones is still in the Richmond County Jail. Back in October, his attorney filed a special plea of mental incompetence to stand trial. According to state law, if a mental evaluation shows he is mentally incompetent, he will be turned over to the Department of Behavioral Health.