Johnston County mom struggles with daughter’s brutal murder

Jessica Pyatte and her mother Michelle (Photo provided by family)


NEWTON GROVE, N.C. (WNCN) — The mother of a murder victim is speaking out about the emotional toll her daughter’s death has taken on her — and about her disappointment that the suspects won’t be tried under death penalty statute.

Jessica Pyatte, 24, and Matt Jones, 30, were found murdered last March in Jones’ mobile home.

MORE INFO: Click here for full coverage of the murders of Jessica Pyatte and Matt Jones

Pyatte’s family said she’d gone there to cut his hair. Three suspects were arrested in the case.

Pyatte’s mother said the killing of her daughter sent her into an emotional tailspin.

“It’s been real rough… I secluded myself from the entire world — for months trying to deal with it,” mom Michelle Pyatte said.

Deputies said Jessica Pyatte was beaten and shot 7 times — including in the head — at a home where she and owner Matt Jones were found.

Because of her wounds, it took two days to identify her. Fingerprints and Pyatte’s distinctive tattoos were used to establish a positive identification.

“You never come to terms with it,” Michelle Pyatte said.

Pyatte’s sister saw the grief that Michelle Pyatte struggled with.

“She was isolating herself.. she wouldn’t eat.. she’d stay up  for weeks at time before she’d finally collapse into sleep,” said Stephanie Griffin, Michelle’s sister

After Pyatte found herself unable to cope with her Daughter’s death, she began coming to a memorial garden — and this helped bring her back to reality, she says.

“My family planted this tree four years ago for my granddaughter who passed away at six months,” said Michelle Pyatte. “When Jessica passed away we decided that being mother/daughter we would have both of them combined.”

Mementos and memories though can’t erase Michelle’s anger at the punishment her daughter’s accused killers face.

“My main concern is the death penalty…why they chose not to go thru with the death penalty,” Pyatte said.

Gerald Paul Jr. is charged with the killings. Tara Wilson and Jeremy Price are accused of being accessories after the fact.

The District attorney says after consulting with victim’s families that the state decided not to seek capital punishment.

“A lot of my family doesn’t believe in the death penalty…they don’t believe you should kill anyone.. I don’t think you should kill anyone,” Pyatte said.

Yet she wants justice for her daughter.

“To watch the judge or the DA say, ‘You’re sentenced to death’  I won’t say it’s a dream. No — that’d be a lie — it’s a dream. A dream I wouldn’t mind sitting there watching that judge say that,” Pyatte said.

But then she admits she’s conflicted as she thinks of the families of the accused.

“Their families aren’t the reason they done this and their families are going through a lot already,” she said “So contradicting what I said – I wouldn’t wish that on their families. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.”

For Michelle, it boils down to one thing.

“Life’s unfair,” she said while her lips quivered.

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