Suspect in Laurel’s quadruple homicide makes his first appearance in court

Nov. 2, 2022, 5 p.m. ·

Jason Jones and attorney
Jason Jones appears in a Cedar County courtroom by video with his lawyer, Todd Lancaster. Jones is accused of killing four people in Laurel and setting two houses ablaze. (Photo by Austin Svehla, Norfolk Daily News)

Court proceedings started Wednesday for the quadruple homicide in Laurel, a town of about 1,000 people in northeast Nebraska.

Authorities suspect Jason Jones, a 42-year-old Laurel resident, of killing Gene Twiford, Janet Twiford, Dana Twiford and Michele Ebeling and then attempting to set the victim’s houses on fire on Aug. 4, 2022.

Jones’ name was attached to receipts and a gun left at the crime scenes. No potential motive has been disclosed by authorities.

When the police arrested Jones on Aug. 5, they found him covered with major burns and airlifted him to CHI St. Elizabeth in Lincoln. Jones was released from the hospital and impounded at a Lincoln jail on Oct. 26.

He’s charged with ten felony counts – four counts of first-degree murder and other counts of arson and use of a firearm to commit felony.

Jones was in a wheelchair but his burns were not visible when he appeared in the Cedar County courtroom Wednesday by video. Jones’ lawyer, Todd Lancaster, said he’d only been able to speak with Jones confidentially the day before.

Lancaster asked for the preliminary hearing to be postponed. Judge Douglas Luebe set the new hearing for Dec. 7, 2022. The state’s prosecution, Corey O’Brien, advised that “between the number of charges and victims,” the preliminary hearing would take about two hours.

O’Brien also asked Luebe to remove Jones’ $5 million bond.

He said the attorney general’s office typically asks for defendants facing first-degree murder charges – which carry punishments of at least life imprisonment up to the death penalty – to be held without bond. Jones faces four counts of first-degree murder.

“There is additional evidence to indicate that Mr. Jones is not only a danger to others, but there was evidence that he was a danger to himself, and that perhaps he was going to do self harm to himself as part of this offense,” O’Brien said.

Luebe complied with the request.

Jones’ wife Carrie attended the hearing but left quickly after it concluded. The victim’s family members also attended and filled the courtroom’s front two benches.