Second suspect in Laurel quadruple homicide delays entering plea, requests lower court hearing

Jan. 23, 2023, 2 p.m. ·

A man in a suit jacket stands behind a wooden table and gestures as he's speaking. A woman in a bright pink long-sleeve shirt looks up at him as she sits behind the table.
Carrie Jones looks up at her court-appointed attorney Doug Stratton on Monday in her first court appearance since being charged with involvement in the four homicides that occurred in Laurel in August 2022. (Photo by Trisha Benton, Cedar County News)

Listen To This Story

Carrie Jones was attentive and alert in Cedar County District Court Monday, as she faced allegations that last August she acted with her husband Jason Jones to carry out a quadruple murder in Laurel, a northeast Nebraska town of about 1,000.

She did not enter a plea to the charges against her: first degree homicide, tampering with physical evidence and accessory to a felony.

Instead, her attorney Doug Stratton – who was instrumental in overturning the Beatrice Six murder convictions – asked for a hearing in a lower court. A Cedar County Court judge will hear the case Feb. 15 to determine if the state has grounds to prosecute her in district court.

Cedar County District Court Judge Bryan Meismer decided to keep the warrant for Jones’ arrest under seal. Stratton – who previously did not have access to the warrant – will receive a printed copy of the document, but it will remain unavailable to the public.

Arrest warrants typically present evidence to justify why a suspect should be arrested.

Nebraska prosecutor Corey O’Brien said the document is so lengthy and has so much information that opening it up to pretrial publicity could make it difficult to find an impartial jury nearby.

“The fact of the matter is that if we were to distribute or make available publicly this affidavit, we'd probably be looking at taking this case out to Scottsbluff,” he said.

The August murders

Jason Jones, Carrie’s husband, has also not entered a plea to the 10 felony counts he faces, which include four first-degree homicide charges for the deaths of Gene Twiford, Janet Twiford, Dana Twiford and Michelle Ebeling.

Authorities arrested Jason less than 24 hours after finding the four bodies, after they found his name attached to receipts and a gun left at the crime scenes.

More than four months later, investigators arrested Carrie. Information on the couple’s phones indicate that Carrie “played a role prior to the murders,” according to a press release from the Nebraska State Patrol.

In recent court documents, prosecutors allege Jason may have killed the three members of the Twiford family “in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate a burglary,” and that he may have killed Janet and Dana Twiford in an attempt to conceal the burglary and/or to conceal the other murders.

Committing a crime to hide another crime is called an aggravating circumstance. Prosecutors need to prove at least one aggravating circumstance for a person to be eligible for the death penalty, if they’re convicted of first degree murder.

Jason and his attorneys are scheduled to appear in Cedar County District court on Feb. 27, where his attorney is expected to argue that Nebraska’s death penalty process is unconstitutional and should not be applied.

The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected all recent claims that the state’s death penalty process is unconstitutional.