Although authorities reportedly believe that Tomiene Jones is no longer alive, the search for the teen continues. Statistics show that each year, anywhere between 14,000 and 16,000 people are reported missing from New Jersey. Since 1969, over 1,000 of those cases remain unsolved, including that of 19-year-old Tomiene who seeming vanished from her Mullica Hill West apartment on April 18, 2002. Tomiene was last seen in Penns Grove the day prior and when her brother visited her residence, he found a puzzling scene.
Relatives became concerned after Tomiene Jones didn’t return to pick up her two-year-old daughter, Janiyah, from the babysitter. As her brother approached her home, he found the front door open and upon looking inside, no one was home. Tomiene’s car was still at the residence, as were her personal items including her purse and her keys. A friend would later tell authorities that they spoke with the teen on the phone around 1:00 a.m on April 18, marking the last documented conversation Tomiene Jones had before disappearing.
“For the sake of a stricken family, this ongoing tragedy of a missing child and parent must be resolved,” Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton told reporters years ago.
Because Tomiene did not have a history of leaving unexpectedly and was known to be a loving mother who was in school working on her General Education Development Test (GED), concerns intensified with each passing day. Six months into the investigation, Tomiene’s case was re-classified from a missing person to a homicide. Police believe that she somehow met with foul play and have turned their investigation into a mission to discover the person or persons responsible for her purported death.
“It still seems like yesterday, like 2002,” said Cheryl Jones, Tomiene’s mother. “Nothing’s changed.” The teen’s father, Tom Jones, has been understandably frustrated with not knowing what happened to the teen.
“It was frustrating when it first happened, and it’s frustrating now,” said Tom. “This was in 2002 and it’s still frustrating to me … I just pray every day. I basically, in my heart, turned it over to God. God knows best and I don’t get myself all bogged down in all that no more. All that’s just up to God now.”
In 2000, two years prior to Tomiene’s case, the nude body of a 20-year-old missing woman from a nearby area was discovered floating in the Alloway Creek. Marc Goodson, described as being a convict who had been dating the woman, was questioned about her disappearance and murder. Reports do not specify that he was ever charged with any crimes related to that case, but the then-26-year-old man had also been in an abusive relationship with Tomiene Jones.
According to reports, Goodson began dating Tomiene when she was 15-years-old and was the father of her daughter. At some point, Tomiene Jones sought refuge at a shelter to protect herself from Goodson and to keep him from discovering her home address. Although he is named as a person of interest in both cases, he has never been charged. However, Goodson was later convicted on unrelated drug and child molestation charges. It is unclear if he is currently incarcerated but he has reportedly denied allegations set against him.
“It’s been extremely frustrating for me as an investigator because I want to be able to bring this family to closure,” said Sgt. Bob Hemphill, an investigator for the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office. He has reportedly been on Tomiene’s case since its first day. “Some months you don’t get anything, but you have to keep going… You have to find something.”
Cheryl Jones admitted to reporters that for a long while, she would sit by her window and look out hoping to see Tomiene walking down their street toward their home as she would normally do. Like many parents, the Jones’ hold out hope that she will return home. They reportedly have not asked for the courts to declare Tomiene legally deceased and they have yet to organize a memorial.
“It’s fifteen years, and I still can’t do it. I can’t. That makes it seem like she’s gone for real,” Cheryl Jones said years ago. A weeping Tom added, “I think she deserves that before both of us pass away. Everybody should have a final say, you know? That’s why you have a memorial. You’re giving that person recognition, even though she was nineteen. That’s the hard part.”
On Tomiene’s Facebook page, her loved ones continue to send messages and birthday wishes. Her parents took custody of her daughter.
The teen’s despondent father made a plea to the public: “If anybody knows anything, would you please come forward? It’s nothing too late. We would like to have closure.”
At the time of her disappearance, Tomiene Jones was 5 feet 6 inches or 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 135 to 140 pounds. She had black/dark brown hair and brown eyes. Both of her ears are pierced and she has a burn scar on her right thigh. Tomenie was last seen wearing a red, white, and orange off-the-shoulder sundress. Her middle name is “Mary” and her nickname is “Meme.” She would be 38-years-old at the time of this publication.
Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office at (856) 384-5500, Det. Robert Hemphill of the GCPO at (856) 384-5602, the Harrison Township Police Department at (856) 468-0600, or their local authorities. There is reportedly a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Please share this story about Tomiene Jones to help bring her home after all of these years. She is our sister and her life matters.
NJ.com 1 & 2
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