According to Unsolved Mysteries, officials stated that Jones had tied his shoelace to a grate above a showerhead to hang himself. His parents, however, did not believe this as he had never been depressed or “showed suicidal tendencies.” His stepfather, Charles Quinn, later visited the jail and estimated that the grate was “about eight feet above the floor.” Simply put, he thought someone had lifted Jones to hang him. This contradicted the state-appointed pathologist, Dr. Steven Hayne, findings (via Synova’s True Crime Stories). His autopsy concluded that Jones “could have hanged himself unaided.” The Quinn’s then decided to hire their own pathologist, Dr. James Bryant.

Per Unsolved Mysteries Wiki, Bryant believed ligature marks on Jones’ neck were the result of him being strangled. Although Hayne’s autopsy failed to find any bruising on his body, Bryant noted that “[Jones] had suffered from some kind of blunt force trauma” while he was in jail. When Dr. Emily Ward became the new state medical examiner shortly after, she, like Hayne’s, said that Jones’ death was a suicide.

His family believed that the jail was involved and that ultimately, his death was racially motivated. They called it a “lynching.” Charles Quinn later told The New York Times that the motive, “could have been several issues, but we know he didn’t commit suicide.” The Quinns later filed two lawsuits against Mississippi and the federal government. Both were dismissed and Jones’ manner of death has never been changed.

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