KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Human remains found at a Kansas barn are those of a juvenile, but tests to determine whether the remains belong to a missing 7-year-old boy could take weeks, a coroner said Tuesday.
Police found the remains after investigating a domestic disturbance, when they were notified that the boy — whom authorities identified as A.J. — was missing. His father, Michael A. Jones, was charged Monday with child abuse, aggravated battery and aggravated assault with a firearm and is being held on $10 million bond.
No charges have been filed in connection with the child's disappearance or with the discovery of the human remains.
Jones' father-in-law told The Kansas City Star on Tuesday that his daughter told him on Thanksgiving Day that her husband had killed the boy and fed the body to pigs. Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome A. Gorman has declined to address reports that the remains had been fed to pigs but has said investigators described the scene "as one of the worst things that they have ever seen."
Wyandotte County Coroner Dr. Alan Hancock said the remains belong to a juvenile, and they have been sent to a forensic anthropologist to confirm the approximate age and race of the child. Hancock said he hopes to further identify the child through DNA testing, but that the total process would take several weeks.
Jeff Coon, of central Kansas, said his daughter, Heather Jones, was calm when she called him on Thanksgiving and told him about the boy's death. Heather Jones had been married to Michael Jones for about seven years and is not the mother of the missing child.
"She told me that Mike killed the little boy and it would be all over the news," Coon told The Star. "He fed him to the pigs, is all she said."
He has not talked to his daughter since.
It was not clear how long the remains were at the site before they were discovered last week.
"You can tell it's been quite a while," Hancock said.
It was unclear whether Jones has a lawyer. His father, Jerome Jones, says his son would never hurt a child. Jones is being held in the Wyandotte County Detention Center, where officials said Tuesday he could not speak with a reporter.
The abuse and battery charges are related to an alleged attack on Heather Jones. Gorman said Monday that the discovery of human remains launched a "much larger investigation."
He said the child abuse charge, described as "torturing or cruelly beating," indicates the boy was abused between May 1 and Sept. 28. That charge is "the tip of the iceberg" in the case involving the boy, Gorman said.
Coon told The Star that his conversation with Heather Jones on Thanksgiving was the first time he had talked to his daughter in six months and that he hadn't been to her home in two years.
Six girls from age 10 to less than 2 were taken from the Jones home and are in state custody. They are healthy and safe and will be under court jurisdiction "for some time," Gorman said. Investigators are trying to determine the parents of each child.
Coon said four of the girls are the biological children of Heather and Michael Jones. The two other girls, as well as A.J., are believed to be Michael Jones' children from previous relationships.
The children were home-schooled and were not enrolled in any local schools. Ann Bush, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Education, said Michael Jones and his wife registered to home-school their children on July 17, 2012. The official name they used was the Jones Academy.
After the registration via an online form, the state has no other connection to the school. Bush said home-schoolers do not have to meet any other state requirements.
Chris Schneider, an assistant district attorney, said Tuesday he couldn't comment at length because the investigation is still going on. He said Jones' next court appearance is Dec. 8.
Jerome Jones, 68, of Baltimore, said by telephone that his son "couldn't do something like that." He said he last saw his son about a year ago.
"Mike loved kids. Always loved kids," Jerome Jones said. "He was a caring and outstanding person."
He said a niece of his visited Michael Jones about a month ago and told him all was well. He also said Heather Jones spoke to his niece about wanting to get some pigs, but that his niece never saw them on the property.
"Mike is not the type of person that would do ... what's he's accused of doing," Jerome Jones said.
Associated Press reporters Margaret Stafford and Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Mo., and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.