Murders A-Z is a collection of true crime stories that take an in-depth look at both little-known and famous murders throughout history.
“Love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage,” goes the 1955 Frank Sinatra song that was made famous 30 years later by the long-running Fox television series "Married... with Children." Some marriages are built to last, like that of Jack and Linda Jones, high school sweethearts who made it to 30 years as man and wife. According to friends, they were “the perfect match.”
But even the strongest marriages have their breaking points, and when Jack told his wife he was in love with a younger woman, she hired three men to beat him to death.
Jack and Linda Jones grew up together in Jacksonville, Florida. She was cute, blonde and popular. He was a hero of the Jean Ribault High School football team. They married right after Linda graduated in 1965. Jack worked at a local Buick dealership while Linda took a job as a bookkeeper at an accounting firm. To friend Joann Sorrells, the couple had “a perfect marriage.”
In an interview with Oxygen’s "Snapped," she recalled: “Every year on their anniversary, Jack would add one more long-stemmed rose to a bouquet. I mean, they were very romantic.”
Their daughter Jill was born in 1972, while sister Shane was born in 1975. Linda eventually became a partner at her accounting firm while Jack was promoted to service manager at the dealership where he worked. In the ‘80s, they built their dream home on the water in the town of Lake Asbury, Florida.
“They had everything a couple could want,” another friend told "Snapped."
Still, friends and neighbors began to gossip about the couple’s extra-marital affairs. Jack had them, and Linda may have had some, too. But, they always seemed to work it out and stay together.
In 1994, with their girls out of the house, the couple was on the verge of their 30th wedding anniversary. Linda had just hired an attractive high school senior named Carrie Davis to help out at the accounting office. After graduating, she moved in with the Joneses, with Linda treating her like an adopted daughter. Jack’s intentions, however, were hardly fatherly.
People — including her own daughters — warned Linda that Carrie was getting too close to her husband. When she confronted them, Carrie casually admitted they were having an affair, and Jack said he was in love with the teen and wasn’t going to give her up.
Linda was beside herself but held out hope that she and Jack would work it out like they always did. She kicked Carrie out of the house, but Jack set her up in an apartment near his work.
“Jack, on a daily basis, would stop by and see Carrie on his way to work,” a homicide Lieutenant told "Snapped." “They would eat dinner, have love time and whatever, but Jack and Linda still lived together as man and wife.”
Things deteriorated rapidly for Jack and Linda Jones, and strange things started happening at the Jones' house. Linda began filing bogus police reports, claiming their home had been broken into and vandalized and even claimed a home intruder had raped her. Carrie’s house was also broken into. Police told Jack he might be in danger. But Jack stayed at Linda’s, even after she became furious when she discovered he’d bought Carrie an engagement ring with Linda’s credit card.
Around 8:30 PM on the night of November 7, 1995, Linda Jones called 911 to report a violent break-in. When police arrived, they found a gruesome crime scene.
“Just inside the foyer you could see blood on the wall,” a sheriff deputy told "Snapped." “Through the doorway Jack was lying in a pool of blood.”
He was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death was later determined to be blunt force trauma to the head and back.
Linda told police she and Jack were watching TV when two men entered their home and demanded money. They beat Jack and bound Linda’s wrists with duct tape before fleeing. The whole story didn’t make sense to authorities, especially the fact that it happened in a quiet bedroom community like Lake Asbury.
“We don't have home invasion robberies, we don't have burglaries where people come in and beat people up,” he said.
Police found little evidence of a break-in at the crime scene, but they did get a full fingerprint off one of the pieces of duct tape Linda said the burglars tied her up with. Their investigation was also stymied after she lawyered up and refused to answer their questions.
Public opinion had begun to turn against her. At Jack’s funeral, people openly accused her of being behind his murder.
A friend recalled, “She called me two days before Jack died. I remember her saying, ‘I'm not going to be fat and 40 and alone,’ and ‘If you get a divorce, you don't get the life insurance.’ She knew she could just pick a gun up and shoot Jack and get away with it. It was a chilling conversation.”
A check of Linda Jones’ phone records revealed she had been in touch with two petty criminals known to local police: Dwight Danahoo and Greg Greene. Under questioning, they admitted Linda had asked them to kill Jack, but they turned her down. Greene did, however, help her fake burglary and rape reports.
“Linda paid him to come in the house, scratch her up, stuck a note in her mouth,” a lieutenant said. “The rape and sexual battery, Linda actually went to his business, and paid him $50 to have sex with her.”
A neighbor had spotted a maroon Nissan van leaving the Jones’ house in a hurry right around the time of Jack Jones’ murder. Police tracked down every van in northern Florida that matched its description. Curiously, one of them belonged to a tax client of Linda Jones named Donald Bradley.
Police checked his fingerprints against the duct tape, but didn't get a match. Then, when Bradley was arrested in a road rage incident several months later, on a hunch a lietenant decided to check the fingerprints of the man who was with him at the time of his arrest. His name was Brian McWhite. He was 21 years old and worked for Bradley’s landscaping business. His fingerprints matched up with those found on the duct tape.
Police brought Brian McWhite in for questioning, but he wouldn’t cooperate. Then his younger brother Patrick, 18, showed up at the precinct with their father and told police what really happened on the night of Jack Jones’ murder. According to the Florida Times Union, after being turned down by Danahoo and Greene, Linda Jones offered $35,000 to Bradley to kill her husband. Bradley then offered the McWhite brothers $100 each to help beat him up, never mentioning his intention to kill him.
According to court documents, on the night of the murder, Bradley picked up the McWhite brothers from their house and instructed them to bring a “zulu war stick.” The plan was for them to enter through the front door, which Linda Jones would leave unlocked, while Bradley entered through a side door to retrieve a handgun Jack Jones was known to keep in the kitchen.
When Jack Jones saw the McWhites in his house, he began fighting with them. Bradley then hit Jones repeatedly with the stick on the head and back and pistol-whipped him. He tried to shoot Jones in the head and chest, but the gun malfunctioned and wouldn’t fire. All the while, Linda Jones calmly watched her husband of 30 years get beaten to death.
“Linda Jones was in the next room, kind of peering around the corner, watching what was happening without saying a word,” Assistant State Attorney Timothy R. Collins told "Snapped."
In the fall of 1997, Linda Jones went on trial for the murder of her husband Jack, facing four charges: two solicitations for murder, conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder. She was eventually found guilty on all charges and sentenced to life in prison.
According to court documents, Brian and Patrick McWhite both pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, each receiving 10-year prison sentences. Brian testified that at some point during the attack he asked Bradley to stop beating Jones. Both brothers have since been released.
Donald Bradley was convicted and sentenced to death. He has twice appealed his death sentence, his most recent appeal being rejected just last month, according to The Florida Times-Union.
[Photos of Linda Jones and Donald Bradley: Florida Department of Corrections]