Dr. Connie Jones believed it was all too possible that her terrifying, nine-year struggle with her ex-husband's threats would end in bloodshed.
She thought it would be her blood, and possibly her son's.
Instead, the psychotic rage of Dwight Lamon Jones turned on six others when he found his ex-wife's defenses too tough to break through. Instead of the fantasy of murder-suicide he shared with his ex, Dwight Jones slaughtered people loosely connected to his divorce and formerly normal life.
The shocking crimes began on May 31, when Jones, 56, used a handgun to murder forensic psychologist Steven Pitt. Over the next two days, he shot and killed Scottsdale paralegals Valeria Sharp and Laura Anderson, life coach Marshall Levine, and Fountain Hills residents Mary Simmons and Bryon Thomas.
During an interview with reporters on Tuesday in Flagstaff, Jones, a metro Phoenix radiologist, talked about her life of justified paranoia after divorcing a violent man, and the deficiencies of the court system in protecting her and her son. Her current husband, Richard Anglin, and Scottsdale lawyer Elizabeth Feldman also spoke at the news conference.
There was no particular indication that Dwight Jones would crack this year and begin killing people. But Connie Jones and Anglin, a retired police officer, fully expected that bullets could begin flying at any moment. They lived with that fear daily.
"I knew one day we would be in a situation where he was trying to kill me," she said. "His death is the best thing to come out of this ordeal."
Jones began divorce proceedings in 2009 following several violent incidents. Dwight had changed over time, she said, morphing from a helpful to a neglectful parent, and from a decent man to a controlling and abusive partner. He seemed depressed and changed his appearance, sometimes sporting a beard. After the bitter divorce and fight over custody of their son, Jones said that Dwight became her "personal terrorist."
He moved into the Extended Stay hotel in Scottsdale — where he would later be found dead — and stayed for nine years, waiting like a spider for a chance to kill his wife.
Dwight repeatedly told Connie he'd kill her, she said. But he offered other fates, too. He threatened to take their son to Mexico, forever. He said he'd murder her and their son, then kill himself. And he said he might just kill their son "to torture me for the rest of my life."
A judge gave Dwight Jones visitation rights even though he was a proven danger, Connie Jones said. He tried to abduct the boy during one of the visitations. That caused the court to modify the terms and require supervised visits for which Dwight Jones had to pay $250 a month. He didn't want to pay, so that ended his family's direct contact with him.
He had plenty of Dr. Jones' money, though. Dwight Jones couldn't hold on to a steady job after his three years in the Army, Connie Jones said. He always quit jobs after one week, often complaining that he was being disrespected. In the divorce, his ex-wife explained, Dwight Jones received payments of $6,000 a month for five years, $97,000 from a checking account, $131,000 from retirement accounts, $50,000 from their boy's college savings account, and other payments.
He had no friends, no other obligations. He could wait years, if necessary, for her to let her guard down, Connie Jones said her ex-husband told her.
Connie Jones and Anglin hired security and kept tabs on Dwight Jones, confirming over the years that he was still living at the hotel. When he was still allowed to visit their child, they noticed he would arrive at the predetermined location early or late, apparently trying to surprise her. Anglin said they would wait until Dwight Jones had parked and at the meeting with others before Connie Jones would go in. The family had to change its schedules frequently, and gave up going to their favorite places, knowing that Dwight Jones might look for them there.
In 2010 or 2011, detectives with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office interviewed Dwight Jones at the hotel at 10660 North 69th Street in Scottsdale. Authorities noted that Dwight had minimal possessions and appeared ready to leave at a moment's notice, Anglin said.
Jones said her situation highlights two severe problems with the legal system. Dwight Jones should never have received visitation rights, even if supervised, after the court determined he was potentially dangerous, she said.
The court put "the rights of the parent over the safety of the child – it's not right," she said.
Second, the court knew her ex-husband had mental-health issues and mandated treatment, she said. But no one ever made sure he actually got that treatment.
Anglin said the news of Pitt's death grabbed his attention, because he knew and admired Pitt. But on Saturday, his suspicions turned to Dwight Jones when he heard about the murders of the paralegals at the Burt Feldman Grenier law firm in Scottsdale. Attorney Elizabeth Feldman had been Connie's attorney during the divorce.
On the morning of June 2, the news media focused on a fourth murder in a small Scottsdale medical park.
"These are three locations" — the medical park, the law firm, and Pitt's office — "I had been to many times," Anglin said. "At that point I was certain."
Anglin called police and gave them everything he knew about Dwight Jones, including a description of his gold Mercedes.
Later that night, in the early hours of Monday morning, Connie Jones and her husband discovered a YouTube account that Jones had created, and the videos slamming his wife that he'd uploaded on May 23. One of the videos, obtained by Phoenix New Times , shows Pitt interviewing Connie Jones about her ex-husband's violent nature.
Six days before he began the string of murders, Dwight Jones tweeted links of the videos to New Times and other news outlets in a desperate bid for attention. No local reporters recognized the tweets as anything but the ravings of a bitter divorced man, if they saw them at all.
But seeing the recently uploaded videos caused acute worries for Connie Jones. At about 1 a.m., she gave police more information about Dwight, including his phone number.
Dwight Jones fired a gun at police during a standoff at the hotel on June 4. Police advanced on his room and found he'd used the gun to commit suicide.
"We are very grateful to be alive today," Connie Jones said. "We feel greatly sorry for the families and the victims."
Elizabeth Feldman talked about the pain of losing the two paralegals, and how their families were suffering.
Police haven't given any potential motives for why Dwight Jones killed the two women. However, it seems quite possible that he meant to shoot Feldman, who wasn't at the office at the time he came in.
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"I don't know who [was the] intended target," Feldman said. "I don't know what was going on in his head. That's why we hired Dr. Pitt."
Police said previously that Dwight Jones went to Karen Kolbe's office intending to shoot her. Kolbe had once counseled the Jones' son, and was called to testify at the divorce. Kolbe wasn't at the office, so Jones shot Levine.
It's still unclear why Jones shot Simmons and Thomas in Fountain Hills; police said they all played tennis in the past.
(Correction: The story has been updated to note that MCSO detectives first contacted Dwight Jones at the hotel in 2010 or 2011, following a finding that he was potentially dangerous.)