Prosecutors allege Laurel woman pushed husband to commit quadruple murder

Feb. 16, 2023, 11 a.m. ·

A man in a brown law enforcement uniform leads a woman in a bright pink sweatshirt and pants into a room.
Carrie Jones enters the Cedar County courtroom to face charges that she was involved in a crime spree that left four people dead last summer in Laurel, Nebraska. (Photo by Tricia Benton, Cedar County News)

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Less than 24 hours after police found four bodies in two separate houses in Laurel, Nebraska the morning of August 4, 2022, they arrested Jason Jones and charged him with four counts of first degree murder.

Six months later, prosecutors are finally starting to suggest why he could have done it.

Nebraska prosecutors Corey O’Brien and Sandra Allen argued it all goes back to his wife, Carrie Jones. She appeared in court Wednesday in Cedar County court. She’s charged with first degree murder, tampering with physical evidence and accessory to a felony.

O’Brien accuses Carrie of aiding and abetting her husband in the murder of Gene Twiford, an 86-year-old man who lived a few blocks away from the couple’s Elm Street home.

Carrie eventually told an investigator that Twiford had been verbally harassing her and that she felt, “This s***’s gotta stop or I’m gonna kill him.”

Brad Higgins, a sergeant with the Nebraska State Patrol, said investigators confirmed that Twiford had a reputation for being inappropriate and had been asked to leave some Laurel establishments.

Text messages between the couple showed them both talking about killing Twiford as early as March 2022. In that conversation, Carrie texted Jason that she “gotta get some damn sniper training and that would be good hit.”

Higgins testified Carrie told him she had pointed a loaded gun at Jason and held a knife to his throat during a fight on Aug. 3 – the day before the murders – saying he needed to take care of the problem or else she would.

“Frankly, I think the evidence would seem to suggest, but for Carrie Jones and her grievance with Gene Twiford, that Jason Jones has little reason to want to do anything to Gene Twiford,” O’Brien said. “Does the crime even occur were it not for her encouragement, her provocation?”

But to Carrie’s defense lawyer, Nathan Stratton, the state only showed she was fed up with the harassment and had other problems in the marriage – not that she directed her husband to kill Twiford.

“She was upset at her husband,” Stratton said. “She was venting, she was trying to get a reaction out of him. And I think that’s what the evidence has shown. I don't think there was any encouragement to kill on that night.”

The night after the fight, prosecutors allege, Jason went to the Twiford’s home at 503 Elm Street in the early hours of Aug. 4. They allege he used a pry bar to enter the home, where he shot Gene Twiford twice.

They allege he would go on to kill Gene’s wife, Janet, and his daughter, Dana. He allegedly told Carrie later that he didn’t know they existed and was surprised to find them in the home. They accused Jason of attempting to set fire to the Twiford’s home.

Prosecutors said he then went to 209 Elm Street, which sat across from his own home. There they allege Jason killed Michelle Ebeling, who Carrie said was “weird” and had made her uncomfortable by staring at her from across the street. Jason also attempted to set that home on fire.

About two dozen friends and relatives of the Twiford and Ebeling families packed the front two benches to sit behind the prosecutor’s desk on Wednesday. They cried, put their heads in their hands and occasionally left the courtroom as O’Brien and Allen painted the prosecution's side of what happened that night.

Carrie told investigators she was just getting back into Laurel from an overnight work shift when she saw an orange glow on Elm Street, emanating from the flames in Ebeling’s home.

She saw her husband stumble out of the house. She said Jason’s skin had been badly burned and was “melting” and “gooey.” Carrie helped him into the bath and tried her best to bandage his wounds with make-shift strips of clothing. Later that night, she eventually told investigators, Jason told her he had killed four people.

Investigators testified that when they had arrested Jason the next day, he was near death and in and out of consciousness.

Despite that, Carrie never sought help or took Jason to a medical professional. In fact, she left for an overnight work shift later that afternoon and left him alone for about 11 hours.

She told investigators she didn’t feel she could force Jason to seek medical help against his will, but prosecutors Allen and O’Brien suggested she knew it could be suspicious if she reported his injuries.

Prosecutors showed pictures of Jason’s body at the time of his arrest. Entire patches of his legs were deeply burned and seemed to have lost the skin. When the attorneys displayed the photos in the courtroom, Carrie sighed, shook her head and appeared to wipe away a tear.

She’s also accused of tampering with evidence by deleting text messages and throwing out the burned clothes her husband wore while allegedly carrying out the crimes.

O’Brien said Carrie hid Jason from police and lied during multiple conversations with law enforcement officers.

“She was taking (Jason) into the house and holding him there, answering the door when the city chief of police came knocking and said, ‘I didn’t see nothing,’” O’Brien said.

“She went to the store to get supplies to treat his wounds. She didn't take him to the hospital, knowing what would happen had she done so. Knowing that she was harboring somebody that had just committed an evil act,” he said.

The defense argued Carrie had likely been at work when the murders were committed and did not buy any of the materials used to carry out the crimes. Defense attorney Stratton said she also helped investigators arrest Jason.

The case will now be heard by the district court judge in Cedar County. Carrie is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 27.