Murder suspect now in custody

Suspect apprehended in Jefferson County

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   The suspect in a Monday morning shooting at a local fast food restaurant that left a former Hampton woman dead turned himself in to authorities in Jefferson County Wednesday morning. Police also released the name of the victim on Wednesday afternoon.
   Steven Allen Jones, 34, of 103 Carl Smith Rd., Hampton, was arrested by officers of the White Pine Police Department in Jefferson County after he made a telephone call to Elizabethton Police Department Chief Roger Deal and EPD Deputy Chief Larry Shell, Deal said Wednesday afternoon.
   Jones is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Carla Scott, age 26, who was a former girlfriend of Jones and had at one time lived with him at the residence in Hampton. Scott was shot shortly after 11 a.m. Monday morning while she sat in her vehicle with her two young children in the parking lot of McDonald's. "We have been hesitant about releasing her name until a next of kin could be located and notified," said EPD Capt. Mike Peters of the Criminal Investigations Division, adding that, as of Wednesday afternoon, no next of kin had been located for Scott. "If anyone out there knows anyone who may be kin to Ms. Scott, please contact us or have them contact us."
   Peters said that, so far, officers only know that Scott originally lived in Florida and moved to East Tennessee approximately four years ago.
   According to Deal, Jones called at approximately 10 a.m. on Wednesday from a hotel room in White Pine. "He told Deputy Chief Shell and myself that he wanted to turn himself in to authorities," Deal said.
   Deal then contacted the White Pine Police Department and told them where Jones was. He also stayed on the phone with Jones until officers arrived at the scene to take him into custody. "While I kept him on the phone I tried to keep him calm," Deal said, adding that he never discussed the shooting incident. "I stayed on the phone with him until I heard the officers come into the room and order him to the ground."
   Jones surrendered without incident, Deal said, despite the fact that he told police he was still armed.
   During the conversation between Jones and Deal while the two waited for officers to arrive, Jones said he is an escapee from a detention facility in Lauderdale County where he was serving time on a conviction from Sullivan County.
   According to police, Jones and Scott had been dating and had lived together. The pair reportedly broke up approximately four to six weeks ago. "She had started dating another gentleman and that may have contributed to it (the shooting)," Peters said.
   Witnesses told police that Jones and Scott had been arguing inside the restaurant and Scott had left the restaurant with her one-year old and three-year-old children. After placing her children in the car, witnesses said the argument between Scott and Jones continued.
   "One of our witnesses saw the victim run to her vehicle and the suspect enter his vehicle and then exit the vehicle with the gun and fire five shots into the passenger window," Peters said.
   Police said that, at the time of the argument, Scott was talking on a cell phone with her current boyfriend, Robert Jones, who placed the original call to 911. "She was still alive (while on the phone with Robert Jones)," said Deal. "He heard the argument and he heard something mentioned about a gun, and he immediately called 911 and said that his girlfriend was being threatened at McDonald's."
   Robert Jones' phone call to 911 went to the Washington County 911 Center because of his location when he was on his cell phone. Robert Jones was then transferred to the Carter County 911 Center who dispatched officers to the scene.
   Members of the Carter County Rescue Squad arrived and removed Scott from her vehicle and transported her to Sycamore Shoals Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Peters said he does not want to speculate on the number of times Scott was shot until the results from an autopsy are released.
   Police said on Monday that Scott received gunshot wounds to the head and chest. "Her wounds at the scene seemed rather extensive," said Peters. "It was pretty gruesome."
   Deal said he was surprised Jones turned himself in to police. "In my 28 years (in law enforcement) this is the first time this has happened to me," he said. "He stated to me that the reason he turned himself in was possible lethal force by police officers. He knew he was in a lot of trouble and he was afraid of getting shot."
   Peters said it surprised him that Jones was still driving the 1980s model Ford Conversion van he drove from the scene of the shooting on Monday. "The vehicle has been recovered and it will be processed," he said. "(The gun) has not been found yet. We are still looking for it."
   Scott was sitting in the driver's seat of a Jeep Cherokee when Jones allegedly fired five shots at her from outside the vehicle. Scott's two children were in the back seat of the vehicle. Jones has been identified as the father of the 1-year-old child but not the 3-year-old.
   Due to the fact that the children were in the vehicle at the time of the shooting, more charges may be placed against Jones at a later date. "Definitely with the two children in the vehicle and five shots being fired into the vehicle that constitutes in my mind endangerment to the children," Peters said, adding that he would speak to the district attorney about additional charges.
   The children were not injured in the incident. "They are in the custody of Child Protective Services," Peters said. "I think they are going to get some counseling, which has been highly recommended for the three year old."
   Police had been tracking Jones since the time of the shooting on Monday and the trail had led them to Sullivan County. "We know that he was in Sullivan County yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon," said Peters. "He fled Sullivan County at approximately 5:30 p.m."
   Jones had been staying with some individuals at a residence in Sullivan County who asked him to leave on Tuesday after they found out he was wanted in connection with the shooting, according to police.
   Peters said police don't know why Jones fled to Jefferson County. "I think he was running out of friends and people who would help him," he said.
   Warrants charging Jones with escape from a state correctional facility arrived in Carter County Monday afternoon.
   According to Lt. Lisa Christian of the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department, Jones was sentenced to five years in prison by a judge in Sullivan County after being convicted of possession of Schedule II narcotics (cocaine) for resale and third offense DUI. She said Jones was in the Sullivan County Jail from Jan. 25, 1999 to April 26, 2000 when he was transferred to the state correctional facility in Lauderdale County to serve out the remainder of his sentence.
   Jones was also charged in 1989 with assault with the intent to commit first degree murder, but the charges were lowered, and, in September of that year, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to six years.
   "He has always been in trouble," Christian said. "He has a lengthy record." Jones also has a criminal history as a juvenile, but information on any of those charges was not released per a state law requiring that juvenile records remain sealed.