MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A man living under an alias shows up on the doorsteps of a previous employer the day before Hurricane Ivan strikes. While staying with the family, the man commits a gruesome murder. This is the story of Jeremy Jones.
WKRG News 5 is looking back at the crimes that shocked the Gulf Coast. Jeremy Jone’s story is the tenth in the series.
On Sept. 15, 2004, people in the Mobile area were getting ready for Hurricane Ivan, a category 3 storm that was coming straight for Mobile. It was also the day that Jeremy Jones showed up on the Bentley’s doorstep in Mobile.
Mark and Kim Bentley were married and lived in the Turnerville area, which is just north of Satsuma, Ala. Jones had worked for Mark previously from 1999 to 2000 and had been housed by the couple during that time. While working for the Bentleys in 1999, Jones had told the couple his name was actually John Paul Chapman. Still using the alias, Jones told the couple he was in need of work and needed a place to stay. The couple agreed to let Jones stay at their mobile home with their cousin, Scooter Coleman, while they went to stay with family members to ride out the storm.
On Thursday, Sept. 16, Jones contacted Kim asking where he could find a radio and flashlight because the storm had officially made landfall. Kim told Jones that those things could be found in her bedroom closet, however, she told Jones to tell Coleman to go look for the items because they trusted him. Jones did not listen to Kim and instead went through the closet and found her .25 caliber handgun that Kim had hidden under her clothes.
The Hurricane had moved through the area by Thursday afternoon, which meant the Bentleys came back to their home. Once back, Mark, Coleman and Jones worked outside on damages that had been caused by the storm. While they were working outside, Lisa Marie Nichols, the Bentley’s 43-year-old neighbor, returned home after staying somewhere else during the storm. Mark said Jones then asked about Lisa, to which Mark told Jones that she was a single female who lived alone.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 17, Jones and a neighbor known as Chris Hill allegedly took illegal drugs. At around 5 a.m. that morning Lisa left her home to head to her job at a grocery store. While she was gone that day, Mark, Coleman and Jones continued to clean up the yard at the Bentley’s home. That evening, Jones asked Kim if she could go to the store and buy him a six-pack of Bud Light. Kim went to the store and bought the beer. She then dropped it off at the home before leaving with her children.
On the same day, a man picked up Coleman and took him to his home to work on cleaning up his yard. Coleman stayed at the man’s home until after dark working. Lisa returned home from work at the grocery store around 5 p.m. that evening. Mark and Jones were still at the Bentley home when she arrived.
Mark said that around 6 p.m. he offered to go grab some hamburgers for the two. The closest restaurant open at the time was a 30-minute drive from the Bentley home. Mark told detectives that, because it was the only restaurant open, he had to sit in line for an hour once he got there.
According to court documents, once Jones was left alone he grabbed the .25 caliber handgun and his six-pack of Bud Light and went to Lisa’s home. Jones allegedly went into the home, raped her and shot her three times in the head. Lisa died instantly.
Once he killed her, Jones went to the Bentley’s home and got some gasoline. He took the gasoline over to Lisa’s home where he covered her body and the bathroom in it. He then lit her body on fire which caused an explosion. Witnesses told detectives they heard an explosion between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Once on fire, Jones went back to the Bentleys.
Coleman arrived back at the home sometime after 8 p.m. and Mark showed up just after that when Jones was getting out of the shower. The three men were heading to bed around 10 p.m. when Mark opened his bedroom window, heard a noise and smelled gasoline. Mark found Jones outside the bedroom window with gas cans. When Mark confronted Jones, Jones said he was putting gas in a four-wheeler to go for a “late-night ride.” Mark told Jones to come inside and go to bed.
On Sept. 18, Lisa did not show up for work and had not answered any of her families phone calls. That night two of Lisa’s daughters and a son-in-law went to her home to check on her. They found her backdoor cracked open and went inside. The power was out in the home due to the hurricane, so they used flashlights inside. Her son-in-law went to the bathroom where he found Lisa’s burned remains.
The three ran out of the home screaming and crying and went over to the Bentley home. Mark and Coleman ran over to Lisa’s home to try and save her, while Jones seemed unemotional and not willing to help. The men quickly discovered there was nothing they could do to save Lisa so they called 911 and the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office came to the scene.
Mark told Jones on Sunday morning that Lisa’s body had been badly burned but not completely destroyed, which is when Jones told Mark that his Vietnam veteran uncle told him that to dispose of a body soldiers would pour gasoline on them and light them on fire. Later that night Jones left the Bentley home and never came back.
The autopsy performed allowed deputies to find that Lisa had three gunshot wounds to her head. After the Bentleys told detectives about Jones’ strange behavior, they started looking for him. They found Jones on the following Tuesday and arrested him. Jones told deputies “I had every intention of making you kill me.”
The trial lasted a week and over 100 items were introduced as evidence. The prosecution’s biggest piece of evidence was the multiple confessions Jones made to raping and murdering Lisa. Another piece of evidence that was used was a phone call made between Jones and Mark. He confessed to Mark that he committed the murder while high on meth. Jones was found guilty and sentenced to death. He is currently at Holman Prison in Escambia County, Ala. on death row.
Jones was also a suspect in the 1995 deaths of Danny and Kathy Freeman which happened in northeastern Oklahoma. He’s also a suspect in the disappearance of 16-year-old Ashley Freeman and Loria Bible. Ashley was the daughter of the Freemans and Loria was a friend. Jones was charged with murders that happened in Georgia and Louisiana as well.