News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, May 23, 2013
Ryan Jones (WRDW-TV)
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's an unthinkable tragedy. A mother, father and son killed. Their bodies dumped in the woods and set on fire.
On Thursday night, the news of who may be responsible has shocked the community all over again.
Investigators arrested 26-year-old Ryan Jones, charging him with three counts of murder.
Jones is the son of Edna and Roosevelt Jones and the older brother to Russell Jones.
Firefighters found the three bodies Tuesday afternoon in the woods behind a subdivision in south Augusta.
The autopsy showed each victim had been shot at least once.
"It's unbelievable; I wish it was a nightmare we were waking up from, but unfortunately, it's not," said Associate Pastor Roy T. Myles.
The Joneses had been members at his church for more than 40 years.
Roy and his brother, Kerwin, spent the afternoon with the Jones family.
"It was tough. It was really tough," said Kerwin, also an associate pastor. "I've been knowing this family all my life, and you say to yourself, this can't be happening. They were the model of a perfect family and how could this happen? It's mind-blowing."
On Thursday, they sat with the family, talking about memories of their loved ones and praying.
"In the midst of trouble, God is there," Roy said. "He gives you comfort, He gives you strength, He is there."
During their prayer, the phone rang bringing news that's still hard to comprehend.
"It leaves me speechless, to be honest with you," Roy said.
It was a call from the Sheriff's Office, saying they'd be charging middle brother Ryan with the deaths of his mother, father and brother.
"During the prayer, it was kinda touchy and everything, but when that phone call came, it was just you couldn't help but cry yourself," Roy said.
They say the crime itself was hard to believe, but they never expected this.
"Some things you can predict. This person may be a threat or whatever, [but] this just came way out of the blue," Roy said.
Neighbors and friends gathered by the family home with candles, songs and lots of prayers Thursday night.
"They need prayer," Kerwin said. "They need as much prayer as possible because they're gonna have to deal with what their brother did and yet still loving him at the same time."
Ryan is a middle child of five. The pastors say they do plan to reach out to Ryan just to talk with him because this is someone they have known his entire life.
They say there are still a lot of unanswered questions, the biggest one being why, but they say they don't know if they will ever get those answers.
The church has set up a fund for the family. They say the family will be dealing with a lot of expenses now and are asking for any help anyone can give.
It's called the Augusta Deliverance Memorial Fund. They are asking for checks or money orders to be sent to the church at 2028 Roosevelt Drive in Augusta.