What appeared to have been a strained association — rife with abuse and violence — ended in Laurel on Sept. 14 in a murder-suicide that was witnessed by the young children of the murder victim.
According to Laurel and Prince George's County police officials, 38-year-old Javan Terrance Abney, of Washington, shot 26-year-old Brandice Marie Jones multiple times in a parking lot outside her home on Shiloh Court in front of her three children and other witnesses. Jones was pronounced dead on the scene.
James Collins, spokesman for The Laurel Police Department, said after Abney shot Jones, he drove to a nursing center on Cherry Lane; parked behind the building; and sat on a nearby bench, where he shot himself in the head. He died on the way to the hospital.
"The whole situation is very sad," Collins said. "The mother is dead; the children witnessed it and will probably carry with them forever the most horrid memory they could ever experience."
Collins said Jones, a receptionist at the U.S. Department of Energy, was preparing to take her 11-year-old daughter, 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter to school the morning of the shooting. He said she was approached in the parking lot by Abney, who was the father of her oldest child and someone she'd lived with years ago.
"He was sitting in a car outside her house. He got out, grabbed her with a gun in one hand and tried to get her to go back inside the residence," Collins said. "Two of the children were inside the car, but the 11-year-old girl was outside the car with her mom and was trying to keep her dad from hurting her mom. She (Jones) got away from him and tried to get in the car, but he grabbed her by the hair, we were told, pushed her to the ground and started shooting her as their daughter watched."
Police said witnesses told them that Jones' other two children were screaming and crying inside the car as their mother struggled with Abney. The witnesses, including a woman the children knew, tried to console the children until police arrived. The children are currently with relatives, Collins said.
Prior to the fatal shooting in Laurel, Abney had an arrest and conviction record in Washington and Maryland for misdemeanors and felonies that went back to 1992. Collins said Abney had only been out of jail for about a year after serving time for a kidnapping incident that involved Jones and her oldest daughter.
"He served five years in prison for kidnapping the two near Hyattsville and holding them in an apartment in D.C. He barricaded himself inside the apartment and wouldn't let them (Jones) go," Collins said. "They were not married but had lived together years ago. She moved to this area from D.C. and had another boyfriend now."
Collins said they heard that Jones and Abney had argued over the telephone and around Labor Day, Jones filed a report with Laurel police against Abney, in which she accused him of cutting all of her vehicle's tires. Laurel Police obtained a summons against Abney, but were not able to locate him at his last-known address in Northeast Washington. Collins said they provided Jones with information on how to file a restraining order against Abney, but no evidence exists that she took their advice.
Prince George's County police are investigating Abney's suicide and Laurel police are handling Jones' fatal shooting. Collins said they want to find out why the incident occurred, which he hopes will help Laurel police as they work to expand their Domestic Violence Unit.
"We're putting together a domestic violence class now and understanding what triggers something like this will help with the class. There's got to be a better way to protect people in these situations because a regular restraining order wouldn't have stopped someone from driving up to someone's home like this guy did," Collins said. "We could make them (abusers) wear ankle bracelets so we'd know where they are at all times, but constitutional rights come into play, so a lot has to be worked on. Until it is, other people may die."
This story has been updated.