Mother Sues State for Giving Custody to Father Who Allegedly Killed Their Five Children

April 29, 2016 Updated: May 3, 2016

A mother in South Carolina has sued the state for granting custody to her ex-husband, who then allegedly killed their five children and dumped the bodies in Alabama.

Timothy Ray Jones, 33, is accused of beating and strangling his five kids in August 2014 and driving for days before dumping their bodies in southern Alabama.

Amber Jones, the mother of the children, said authorities failed to take action despite three years’ worth of complaints levied against their father.

She is now suing the South Carolina Department of Social Services for failing “to provide the statutorily mandated protection that would have saved [her children] from abuse and neglect and prevented their deaths,” reported the Daily Beast on Tuesday.

Amber is claiming that the state DSS was “grossly negligent” in its interactions with her family before the murders took place. Teachers, school officials, neighbors, babysitters, and Amber Jones herself made allegations of abuse, the report states.

A spokesperson with the agency remained mum about the case, stating to the website: “We aren’t commenting at this time.”

Timothy—who had a history of drug abuse, burglary, car theft, and drug possession—got custody of his kids even though there were multiple allegations of abuse against him. The abuse apparently escalated in the months before their deaths, reported MailOnline.

According to the Daily Beast, which detailed how Timothy got custody of the children:

Mr. Jones’s personal therapist, Dr. April Hames, filed an affidavit in support of his request for custody. In it, she described Mr. Jones as “a highly-intelligent, responsible father.”

“His thoughts are very detailed, action oriented, and focused on his children… When Mr. Jones sees an obstacle, he sets his sights on the solution and is willing to go through the often difficult process of achieving his goal of resolution.”

And so, Mr. Jones won primary custody of the children.

Timothy then claimed that after he and his wife divorced, Amber was unfit to care for their children due to her “lifestyle” choices, claiming she had an affair with a younger neighbor and would leave the children alone. His wife also didn’t have a job, a car, or money, while Timothy said he was making $6,000 a month as an engineer at Intel and could move the kids to Mississippi.

Following the crime, Jones was reported to have admitted killing the children, named as one-year-old Abigail Elizabeth, two-year-old Gabriel , six-year-old Nahtahn, seven-year-old Elias, and eight-year-old Merah Gracie.

Jones, in statements to police, said he feared that his children were going to “kill him, chop him up, and feed him to the dogs.”

After the murders, Jones then transported the bodies across 700 miles before dumping their remains.

Last December, prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty against him.

A judge has ordered a psychiatric evaluation of him. His attorney said that he has been treated for mental health issues in the past, but he didn’t specify.