Community Frightened by Seemingly Motiveless Kidnappings and Murder
The disappearance of two young women in less than a month has state and local law enforcement officers stumped and area citizens concerned and frightened.
One missing woman lived in Seminole. Both worked there.
Melody Ann Jones, 19, an employee of the Seminole Dairy Queen, has been missing since 11 a.m. on May 5. Her husband, Paul Richard Jones, 20, was found stabbed to death in their rural home northwest of Earlsboro.
Patty Hamilton, 18, an employee of the Seminole U Totem Store has been missing since 4:35 a.m. on April 9. She disappeared from the store during a night work shift.
Police believe Miss Hamilton, the night clerk, was victim of a robbery-kidnapping, and think Mrs. Jones was abducted after her husband was slain.
Whether the two cases are connected is as much a mystery as is the whereabouts of the women.
“Some crazy person is going around doing it. This kind of thing just doesn’t happen that much in Seminole, OK, especially that close together,” says 24-year-old Dannaca Reed, a Dairy Queen employee who worked with Mrs. Jones. “It’s going to continue to happen if they don’t catch who’s doing it.”
But, state and local law enforcement officers have no evidence linking the two disappearances, other than what they call some “coincidences.”
“We don’t know, but there is nothing on the surface to indicate the two cases are connected,” said Paul Renfrow, a spokesman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, whose agents are investigating the cases. “It is quite obvious we have two missing women within a 12-mile area and that in itself is a coincidence which is being looked into.”
The Jones couple lived eight months ago in a house two blocks from the U Totem Store where Miss Hamilton disappeared.
Mrs. Jones’ mother, Carol Garton of Shawnee, discovered her son-in-law dead after going to his house to check on her daughter, who had not reported for work.
“I went to the house, saw their car there, and figured they had overslept,” Mrs. Garton said. “I honked, then went to the door. Tha door was slightly opened so I pushed it on open, took two steps, saw a gun on the bed and Paul’s legs on the floor.”
The house is located two miles north of Earlsboro on State Highway 9A and a half-mile west on the Benson Park Road, which divides the rural communities of Earlsboro and South Rock Creek in Pottawatomie County. The residence is 12 miles from Seminole.
Pottawatomie County Sheriff Paul Abel said authorities first thought Jones had been shot, but an autopsy showed the young man died from two stab wounds one in the neck, the other in the chest. Jones would have turned 21 on May 14.
The victim was dressed in cutoff denim shorts and an unbuttoned shirt and was lying on the floor next to a bed on which lay an unloaded .12-gauge shotgun.
Officers theorize Jones may have been trying to load the weapon when he was stabbed. The gun had not been fired.
Authorities said there was no sign of forced entry into the modest wood-frame house. The contents of Mrs. Jones’ purse had been dumped on the kitchen floor.
“There’s several things about this case that don’t make sense,” said Abel. “The key to the case is finding the girl. When we locate her, one way or another, it should answer a lot of questions.
“Right now we believe it is a murder-kidnapping,” the sheriff said. “We have looked at all angles. There is no indication it was robbery, a domestic dispute or anything else. The motive is still up in the air.”
The sheriff said he does not know if the Jones case is connected to the Hamilton disappearance. “I don’t see any connection other than the fact both worked in the same town,” he added. “People are curious about this and concerned.”
Abel said it appears Jones and his wife “were surprised by an intruder.” He said there is a possibility more than one person was involved.
Jones, a native of Gloucester, England, had lived in the Earlsboro area since 1976. He and his wife, who was raised in Shawnee, had been married just over two years.
Jones worked at the Jimmie Austin Golf Course in Seminole, where golf pro Tony Doudican described him as “a very quiet, but excellent young man.”
Sharna Farley and Karan Scott, two 16-year-old girls who worked with Mrs. Jones the day before she disappeared, said the woman did not act unusual. “She was happy and joking around like always,” Miss Farley.
“Yeah, she was really happy,” Miss Scott added.
The co-workers described Mrs. Jones and her husband as “happily married.”
Mrs. Garton agrees. “They had been getting along great,” she said.
“The police are going on the assumption that Melody is a victim,” Mrs. Garton added. “We’ve racked our brains thinking over everything.
“Things like this just don’t happen to people. I hope somebody finds her. Please help us find her,” the mother sobbed.
Mrs. Garton said she is at a loss to explain a motive for the crime.
“What motive could there be?” she asked. “My daughter and her husband didn’t have any money.”
Asked if she thinks the disappearance of Miss Hamilton from the convenience store is connected to her daughter’s disappearance, Mrs. Garton replied, “I don’t know. They took the girl over there and took our girl.”
Carolyn Thompson, who operates a beauty shop two blocks from the Jones residence, said people in the area are scared.
“I’m keeping my doors locked,” she said. “There doesn’t seem to be a motive for this. It’s a real mystery.”
The OSBI has offered rewards of $5,000 each for information leading to the whereabouts of the missing women. BIOG: NAME:
Archive ID: 124678