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Wife: Fugitive husband is no child molester

Says he won’t hurt daughter on purpose, but she worries

POSTED: March 3, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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Madison Kerr is shown

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When Jerry Norman Jones heard early Friday morning that he was wanted by authorities for allegedly violating the conditions of his bond, he told his estranged wife in a phone conversation that he wanted to read the Bible and pray.

At the time, Jones was free on $40,000 bond after being charged with molesting four of his third-grade students at Gainesville Elementary School.

Sometime in the next two hours after the phone call ended, Jones packed up his Ford Taurus, scooped up his sleeping 4-year-old daughter Madison Kerr, and fled to parts unknown.

As of late Wednesday, Jones, 51, remained a fugitive, wanted on an arrest order signed by a Hall County judge Feb. 12, three days before he fled.

Jones’ wife, Rene Kerr of Commerce, said she has started divorce proceedings against him, but believes he is innocent of the molestation charges.

"I just wanted him to do what he could to maintain his innocence," Kerr said this week. "But I think he’s just trying to spend time with his daughter, because he’s worried he won’t have much more time to spend with her."

Kerr does not think Jones would intentionally harm their daughter, but says the girl needs medicine for allergies and a possible ear infection.

She’s also concerned about a possible confrontation between her husband and law enforcement.

"When they arrest him, they will have guns," she said. "Obviously, he’s not acting rational, so I worry about the decisions he might make."

Rene Kerr says she has "no idea" where Jones may be, but believes he has the money to sustain himself and his daughter on the road at least temporarily.

"But it will run out," she said. "It doesn’t last forever."

Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh said Jones is being sought "actively" by several law enforcement agencies, without specifying.

According to court documents, Jones was arrested Dec. 15 by Gainesville police who investigated complaints that he fondled three 9-year-old girls and an 8-year-old girl in his classroom at the school on McEver Road.

Jones, who worked at the school for a year, resigned four days before his arrest after being confronted with allegations from co-workers.

On Jan. 7, after hearing an attorney for Jones argue for bond in the case, Senior Superior Court Judge John Girardeau set bond at $40,000, with several conditions. Under the conditions, Jones was confined to his sister’s home in Cumming and could only venture out if accompanied by his sister. Jones was allowed contact with his daughter, provided it was supervised by his wife or sister, according to the bond order.

On Feb. 8, Hall County prosecutors sought to have the judge revoke Jones’ bond, alleging that he had violated the order by being at the home of his wife and child in Commerce on Feb. 1 without being accompanied by his sister. On Feb. 12, Girardeau issued an order to have Jones arrested.

Hall County Sheriff’s Maj. Jeff Strickland said the office’s warrants division got the order on Feb. 13. The office asked Forsyth County sheriff’s officials to carry out the arrest because Jones was thought to be living in their jurisdiction.

It is unclear why authorities first went to the home of Jones’ wife in Jackson County, where they attempted to serve an arrest warrant at about 1:30 a.m. Feb. 15, only to discover he was not there. Earlier, on the afternoon of Feb. 14, Rene Kerr met with Jones and his sister at a Toys ‘R Us in Buford to drop their daughter off for a supervised visit, she said.

Kerr called her husband shortly after sheriff’s deputies left her house to let him know he was wanted, she said.

"He asked if he could call me back," she said.

The next call Kerr received was from Jones’ sister, at 4 a.m., asking if she knew where he was.

Kerr said she has not heard from her husband, and does not think he is with either of his two adult sons — one lives in Colorado, the other in Alabama — or another sister.

Jones, who is 5 feet, 8 inches and 155 pounds, was last seen driving a white 1996 Ford Taurus with "Pro-Life" bumper stickers and bearing Georgia wildlife tag BW6 B02.

His wife says if he doesn’t want to stop running, he should at least leave their daughter in a safe place, whether it be a church or a hospital.

Unfortunately, she thinks that right now, "the whole point of his life is her."



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