KANSAS CITY, Missouri (CBS News) — A Kansas woman who will serve at least 25 years in prison for the gruesome death of her 7-year-old stepson says she is sorry for not protecting the boy from his father, whom she blamed for the child’s death.
Heather Jones was sentenced Monday to life in prison, plus an additional five years and eight months for the death of Adrian Jones, or A.J., whose remains were found in November in the family’s pigsty in Kansas City, Kansas.
A police source told CBS affiliate KCTV in December that investigators feared the boy’s remains were fed to the pigs.
Jones will be eligible for parole after 25 years.
She apologized and claimed she had no one to turn to save her and Adrian from abuse by her husband, Michael Jones.
“I can’t go back now but I truly, from the bottom of my heart, am sorry I wasn’t strong enough to protect him … I wish I could take it back,” she said, according to KCTV.
Michael Jones has pleaded not guilty to premeditated first-degree murder and other charges in the death of A.J., who was his son from another relationship. He is due to stand trial in February.
Heather Jones, 30, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree murder in the boy’s death. Prosecutors have said the case against her wouldn’t have qualified for the death penalty.
A.J.’s remains were found last November while police were responding to a domestic disturbance at the family’s home. The child is believed to have died some time between Sept. 18 and Oct. 5 of last year, reports the Kansas City Star.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Sheryl Lidtk said Monday it was the most heinous crime she’s seen in her 27-year career as a prosecutor, reports the Star. She said the boy was physically and emotionally abused, confined, and “essentially starved to death.”
“He was horribly abused, neglected and ultimately killed,” Lidtke said, reports the paper. “I’m sure his suffering was unbearable.”
Prosecutors said the boy had been missing for months before his remains were found near the pigs.
Six other children who ranged in age from 2 to 10 years old at the time were placed in state custody after the discovery.
Heather Jones told The Associated Press last December that her husband, who was a bail bondsman, abused her and A.J., and that she suspected he was going to kill her shortly before he was arrested because she “found out” what had happened to the missing boy.
“I am not God, and I could not save everyone,” she told the AP at the time.
The boy’s grandmother Judy Conway told KCTV she had little sympathy for the woman.
“She still puts all the blame on Mike and I believe that she is equally responsible,” Conway said. “She had opportunities just to pick up the phone and call me, and she never made [the abuse] known to anyone.”
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