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Crime News Cold Cases

Man Confesses To Killing Woman 20 Years Ago, Leads Police To Her Body In Suitcase

Brian Jones appeared remorseful when telling authorities that he killed his girlfriend, Janet Luxford, back in 2001. His reason for not coming forward sooner? He didn't want to disappoint his parents. 

By Jax Miller
A photo of missing woman, Janet Luxford

A South Carolina man who traveled to Alabama in March to claim responsibility for the death of a missing woman has been charged with her murder.

Brian Edward Jones, 62, was formally charged with murder after calling the Bessemer Police Department to confess to his girlfriend’s 2001 murder, according to AL.com. Jones said he killed Janet Jones Luxford, 41, who left her Jacksonville, Florida, home for Alabama shortly before she vanished two decades ago.

Luxford was never seen again.

“We were in disbelief that somebody had come to us to confess to a murder, much less one that is 21 years old,” said Bessemer Police Lt. Christian Clemons.

In March, Jones boarded a bus in South Carolina with the sole purpose of getting the murder off his chest. Once in Alabama, he called authorities to confess that he accidentally killed Luxford and stuffed her body in a suitcase.

Lt. Clemons told Birmingham’s WBRC that Jones “sat outside of our station until he finally got up the nerve to give us a call.”

Officers were stunned; they hadn’t before heard of Janet Luxford, who was reported missing on Sept. 22, 2002, by her daughter in Napa, California, according to the Doe Network.

“It’s not a homicide that we even had on our radar,” Clemons told WBRC. “It’s something that he committed here 21 years ago, and nobody knew that it happened besides him.”

On March 29, two days after the shocking confession, Jones led authorities to the area of Harmer Street and Valley Creek, where they discovered a green suitcase containing human skeletal remains, according to AL.com.

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office has yet to make a positive identification.

“Although the remains found have not been officially identified, Jones is being charged with the death of Janet Luxford,” police told Birmingham’s WVTM. “The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office is actively searching medical records and using DNA to help identify the remains, but the process could take as long as nine months.”

Janet Luxford was last seen in September 2001 after leaving her Ernest Street residence in Jacksonville, as reported by her daughter in 2002. Witnesses later saw the missing woman leaving a Bessemer motel with an unidentified truck driver.

A police hand out of Brian Edward Jones

Lt. Clemons told WBRC that Luxford relocated from Florida to Alabama to be with Jones.

Jones admitted to police that he was the unidentified man who was with Luxford before her death on Feb. 18, 2001 according to AL.com. He remembered the date because it was the same day NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt died during the Daytona 500 race.

According to his confession, Jones said he and Luxford got into an altercation at a motel in the 1100 block of 9th Avenue Southwest in Bessemer when he struck Luxford with a golf club, unintentionally killing her.

“So 21 years ago, Mr. Jones was here working as a day laborer,” Clemons told WBRC. “He and Ms. Luxford were boyfriend-girlfriend. She wanted to get money to go back home, which is California, to see her folks and from that, an argument started, to which he described got out of hand, and he ended up hitting her with a club in the throat.”

Online records show Jones was booked into the Jefferson County Jail on March 29 on charges of murder and abuse of a corpse. His bail is set at $765,000.

Authorities withheld news of Jones’ arrest until they could notify Janet Luxford’s family, which they had on Tuesday, according to AL.com.

Jones said he thought about confessing in the past.

“He said he thought several times about coming forward but did not want to disappoint his parents,” said Clemons. “He seemed enormously remorseful, and appeared to be someone who had been carrying weight of this around for a long time and was relieved to have it over.”

Lt. Clemons, who referred to Jones’ confession as a “once-in-a-career type case,” told AL.com that the defendant admitted to the murder because he was concerned for Luxford’s “eternal destination.”

Jail records don’t indicate when Jones is expected to appear in court.

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