Diana Duve was 26 when she vanished one night in 2014 in Vero Beach, Florida. She was last seen alive leaving a bar with her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Michael Jones. To witnesses, the couple seemed to be having a good time, though they told police that at one point it looked like Duve was upset. She never returned home.
Her mother knew something was wrong when Diana didn’t call her, something she did every day. “It set me off immediately,” Lena Andrews told “48 Hours” contributor Michelle Miller. “I was trying to tell everybody who would listen … if she’s not calling me, it’s because she can’t.”
“You can just see the sheer fear and panic in Lena’s eyes,” said Vero Beach Sergeant Brad Kmetz. “I said, ‘Lena, I promise you, I’m going to get your daughter back for you one way or another.”
On Saturday, June 21, 2014, Lieutenant Matt Harrelson and Sergeant Brad Kmetz with the Vero Beach Police Department were not having much luck trying to find out what could have happened to Diana Duve and Mike Jones.
Investigators went to Jones’s apartment, but no one was answering the door.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: We’d interviewed all of these people; we’ve run down all the leads that we had … we’re in a million different directions.
Sgt. Brad Kmetz: We did get a search warrant that day to get into Michael Jones’s apartment to try and collect physical evidence or find Diana and hopefully it to be you know next to nothing.
When the investigators returned with the warrant, they were surprised to discover Lena and Bill Andrews — Diana’s mother and stepfather — sitting outside in their car.
Michelle Miller: Is that unusual?
Lt. Matt Harrelson: Oh my gosh, that’s crazy. … Lena is sitting at the house hoping for a sighting of her daughter … She’s just beside herself. You know she’s crying. She’s upset. She wants to go physically kick the door in.
Before investigators went inside, they interviewed Lena. She told them that the last communication she had from her daughter was that text Diana sent in the early hours the previous day.
Lena Andrews: She texted me at 1:45 a.m., “I won’t be home.”
It was in Russian, the language they spoke with each other, so Lena believed it had to be from her daughter. As the hours passed on Friday, with no sign of Diana, she grew increasingly desperate.
Michelle Miller: You called Michael Jones?
Lena Andrews: I did call Michael Jones, yes. … And he was like, “Oh don’t worry. She’s with me everything is OK.”
Michelle Miller: Oh, he said that?
Lena Andrews: Yes. I was like, “Oh my God, Mike, you guys killing me. I am, I am worried sick. I need to talk to her. I want to hear her voice.” I told him to give her the phone. All of a sudden. “Oh, she’s sleeping.” … Well, “wake her up because I have to talk to her.” All of a sudden, another excuse. “She’s at my place. But I’m not there right now.” … I told him, “You go home, you wake her up.” … Call me back in 30 minutes.
But Jones never called Lena back, and she never heard from him again.
Lena Andrews: She was my world.
Diana was born in Moldova, small country in Eastern Europe. Diana immigrated to America when she was 13 to join her mother Lena who had married Bill, an American.
Lena Andrews: A girl that didn’t speak English at all. Within two months, she was in regular school class and in a few years, you couldn’t even guess that she’s not American.
In 2011, Diana received her nursing degree. At the time she disappeared, Diana worked with cancer patients at the Sebastian River Medical Center.
Lena Andrews: She really, really cared … about her patients, about patients’ families.
Chelsea DiMaio: She’s highly intelligent, always motivated.
Chelsea DiMaio was Diana’s best friend and former roommate.
Chelsea DiMaio: She’s very easy going, just fun to be around.
Patrick Dove/USA Today Network
In the summer of 2013, Chelsea says Diana met Jones at a bar in Vero Beach.
Michelle Miller: Did she seem smitten from the start?
Chelsea DiMaio: No.
Michelle Miller: No.
Chelsea DiMaio: No. … She never had an initial, “Oh wow, Mike Jones.” … It seemed more like he definitely has his sight set on her. … And she eventually came around.
Lena and Bill say they didn’t know much about Jones, except that he worked for PNC Bank in Wealth Management and had gone to law school.
Lena Andrews: He was extremely polite. … Nice dressed, well spoken.
Bill Andrews: He seemed like the ideal boyfriend.
And after just a couple of months of dating, Diana moved into Jones’s apartment.
Bill Andrews: She seemed happy. So, we were OK with it.
Chelsea says Diana and Jones quickly became inseparable.
Chelsea DiMaio: You would never see her without him. And she had never done that in relationships before.
Over time, Chelsea says she became concerned.
Chelsea DiMaio: There was a time where we were getting lunch … I remember she wanted to go somewhere where Mike wasn’t going to see her or run into her or see her car. It was almost as if she would have been in trouble getting lunch with me.
Chelsea says before she could sit down and have a serious talk with her friend, Diana and Jones had a domestic dispute that would officially end their relationship.
It was April 30, 2014, just two months before Diana would disappear.
Mike Jones’s neighbor made this 911 call:
OPERATOR: Vero Beach Police.
NEIGHBOR: Yeah hi, I think I got a domestic for you. The next-door neighbor and his girlfriend sound like they’re getting into it.
NEIGHBOR: It’s been going on for about an hour.
OPERATOR: Just been yelling and screaming or …
NEIGHBOR: Yeah. … It just sounds like he’s trying to dominate the crap out of her
OPERATOR: So, it’s just been verbal, right?
NEIGHBOR: Verbal. I can’t hear any slaps or anything. … But I’ll tell you, it’s not good.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: Officers responded, knocked on the door, made contact with both Diana and Mike Jones.
According to the police incident report, Jones told them the noise was from “rough sex.” Diana told police everything was fine, but she asked them to wait for her as she grabbed her things and left.
Chelsea DiMaio: She called me in tears leaving his apartment. I told her to just come straight to where I was, and she did … And she was still in her pajamas, hysterical.
Michelle Miller: Had you ever seen her like that before?
Chelsea DiMaio: That upset? Never. Never.
Chelsea DiMaio: She was explaining that … he was screaming at her, that it had been going on for what felt like hours, and he just wasn’t letting up. And he finally got to the point where he had put his hands around her neck and started strangling her.
Chelsea DiMaio: I could clearly see that there were marks on her neck.
So, Chelsea says she took photos which show what appears to be hand marks on Diana’s neck.
Chelsea DiMaio: I need to document this. I need to protect her.
But despite Chelsea’s efforts to get her to make a formal report, Diana chose not to press charges.
Chelsea DiMaio: She just wanted to move her things out and remove herself from the situation and that’s what we did.
Diana moved back in with her parents and did not tell them that Jones had tried to strangle her.
Lena Andrews: I think she was just trying to protect me so I wouldn’t worry. And she thought that she handled it. … In her mind it was over.
But Lena says Jones continued to pursue Diana.
Lena Andrews: She would tell me, “He texts me. … Looks like he doesn’t understand that I broke up with him.
Now with a search warrant almost 48 hours after Diana was last seen with Mike Jones, investigators entered his apartment.
Sgt. Brad Kmetz: You can see the sheer fear and panic in Lena’s eyes. … I said, “Lena, I promise you I’m going to get your daughter back for you one way or another.”
Lena Andrews: I vividly remember that I was walking back and forth in front of this apartment, neighbors, people that I don’t know all coming out. … This girl just came and hugged me and said, “Oh everything going to be OK. And I looked at her and said, “No it won’t …”
THE SEARCH FOR DIANA
Lt. Matt Harrelson: We want to find Diana. We want to reunite her with her parents. We want to make sure she’s OK.
As detectives searched Mike Jones’s apartment, they were hopeful they would find Diana Duve. But they were met with disappointment.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: We didn’t find a lot. We didn’t find any belongings that we felt were Diana’s. We didn’t find any sign of her.
But they were not discouraged. Sgt. Kmetz was motivated by that promise he made to Diana’s mother Lena — that he would find her daughter.
Sgt. Brad Kmetz: What really drove me to keep pushing forward was a mother begging you, please find my daughter for me.
They knew that in order to find Diana, they needed to find Mike Jones. Investigators grew concerned when they learned that about 12 hours after Jones was last seen with Diana at the What a Tavern bar, he was captured on surveillance footage visiting a PNC Bank in Vero Beach.
Florida State Attorney’s Office, 19th Circuit
Lt. Matt Harrelson: When he went to PNC Bank, he withdrew $2,500 in cash and then told many of his workmates … he said, I’m not feeling that well. I’m gonna be gone for a couple of days. I’ve got some things I got to take care of.
Investigators grew even more alarmed when they learned that Jones had a criminal record. Prior to moving to Vero Beach, he had been charged with aggravated stalking for threatening to kill an ex-girlfriend near Fort Lauderdale in 2012.
This is the 911 call from that incident:
OPERATOR: 911, What is your emergency?
EX-GIRLFRIEND: My ex-boyfriend just called me and told me that he has packed his gun and that as soon as I walk outside a gunshot will go off in my head.
OPERATOR: What happened?
EX-GIRLFRIEND: My ex-boyfriend threatened to kill himself tonight. And then when I told him that we were not getting back together he told me he would kill me.
EX-GIRLFRIEND: I’m very afraid. I’ve seen him angry before.
St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office
He pleaded no contest. And as part of a plea deal, Jones was given five years probation in lieu of jail time. He was required to stay in the Vero Beach area and could be arrested if he left without getting permission from his probation officer.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: I spoke to the probation officer who told us if we come in contact with him, that’s probable cause. We can arrest him for a probation violation, at minimum at that point.
Lena Andrews: All of a sudden, we found out that he’s convicted felon, that he’s on probation.
Lena says she and Bill were blindsided by the news.
Lena Andrews: It’s something that was extremely unexpected. … Nobody knew about it.
Investigators continued to work the case but were running out of leads, so they turned their attention to analyzing cellphone tower pings from Diana and Jones’s phones.
Lt. Matt Harrelson (looking at map): We had to kind of like overlay two separate maps to be able to see where she may have been and where he was prior.
Sgt. Brad Kmetz: I was getting pretty tired … And something told me just give it a couple more minutes. And this is why I would say that divine intervention was definitely at play here … Within a few minutes … I found something that was really odd.
Sgt. Kmetz noticed there was only one ping from Jones’s phone off a cell tower located in the Fort Pierce area – approximately 25 minutes from Vero Beach. So Kmetz had dispatch alert local authorities there, to be on the lookout for Jones’s gold Honda and Diana’s black Nissan.
Sgt. Brad Kmetz: I’m on my way home, I … get in bed and then my phone rings.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: Fort Pierce PD had located Mike Jones’s car.
Jones’s gold Honda was located in the parking lot of a Hampton Inn. Hotel surveillance footage showed that Jones had checked into the hotel almost 24 hours after Diana went missing. He appeared to be alone. According to the front desk staff, Jones paid in cash for two nights, and instructed them not to tell anyone he was there and not to transfer any calls to his room.
Florida State Attorney’s Office, 19th Circuit
Lt. Matt Harrelson: You don’t know what you’re gonna find when you get in that room. … You know, your heart’s racing, you’ve been going two days straight and now you’re this close from getting who you believe is a possible suspect … and also hopefully finding Diana.
Around 11:30 p.m., using a key card given to them by the front desk, Kmetz and Harrelson entered Jones’s hotel room.
Michelle Miller: He seemed surprised?
Lt. Matt Harrelson: He was surprised to see us. Absolutely. … He was sitting on one of the double beds with like a V-neck T-shirt on and some shorts and smoking a cigarette. And he was talking on a phone, on a cellphone.
It was a burner phone — a phone that is difficult for police to trace.
This is audio of Sgt. Kmetz speaking to Jones in his hotel room:
SGT. BRAD KMETZ: All right Mike, you got a pretty good reason why we’re here, I’m sure.
MIKE JONES: I’ll tell you unequivocally, I don’t know where she is. … I don’t have the slightest clue. I’ve tried to find her.
Sgt. Brad Kmetz: Why won’t he just give me the information I’m looking for? Your girlfriend’s missing, this is someone you professed that you loved and professed that you cared about. You should be helping law enforcement try to find her.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: I said, “If you’re not willing to give us any information I said you’re going to jail right now for the violation of probation.”
Kmetz and Harrelson were relieved to place Jones behind bars. But they still had no idea where Diana was — or her car.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: You go from very high because you found him, and you’re busting in the room, to like, here we are back again.
Investigators decided to trace the purchase of that burner phone Jones had been using and learned that he bought it at a Walmart located about an hour north from the Hampton Inn. When they pulled the surveillance footage from the Walmart, they made a startling discovery.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: It’s a little grainy. But it appeared to be Diana’s car.
In surveillance footage from the morning after Diana went missing, her Nissan entered the Walmart parking lot, and parked. Then you see what appeared to be Mike Jones wearing a red baseball hat walk into the store, buy the burner phone and then walk out. There was no sign of Diana.
But despite buying the burner phone, Jones occasionally still turned on his primary phone.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: He would turn it on and then use it for something and then turn it back off.
Sgt. Brad Kmetz: Let me go through these pings one last time. I said maybe I’m missing something here. … I found one. I mean maybe we can catch lightning in a bottle twice.
So, Kmetz and Harrelson analyzed Mike Jones’s primary cellphone pings, one more time, looking for any pings in and around the area of the Walmart.
Sgt. Brad Kmetz: He and I are kind of looking at it together and I’m like, “Well, this one’s strange.” He goes, “What do you mean?” I say … “What’s he doing up in Melbourne?”
It appeared that Jones had picked up a call in the Melbourne area, almost one hour north of Vero Beach. So local police were alerted and asked to search that area for Diana’s car. Just 30 minutes later, detectives received a call they had been desperately waiting for.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: They had found her vehicle.
Three days after Diana had gone missing, her car was located in a Publix parking lot in Melbourne, Florida.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: We jump in the car, were rocking and rolling.
Michelle Miller: And there she was.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: Mm-hmm. Crazy. Crazy (tears up).
NO ORDINARY SUSPECT
Lt. Matt Harrelson: We’re on the ragged edge. You know, we — we haven’t slept. … you know, ’cause you’re just you’re moving.
Vero Beach Police Department
It was around 4:30 a.m. when investigators arrived at a Publix parking lot where Diana Duve’s black Nissan had been discovered. Lt. Harrelson feared they would find her body here.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: And I told Brad, I said, “she’s in the trunk”
Sgt. Brad Kmetz: I said, I don’t know, I said it’s just so cliche. It’s something like out of a movie. It didn’t make much sense to me.
But when they opened the trunk, Lt. Harrelson’s premonition turned out to be true.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: There are certain things in this job that you can’t unsee. You can’t unlive.
Michelle Miller: You’ll never forget.
Matt Harrelson: Yeah.
Sgt. Brad Kmetz: I remember putting my hands on my knees and kind of just putting my head down. … It was not the way I wanted to find her.
Lena Andrews: And I opened the door and here was chief of police in complete uniform.
Bill Andrews: The saddest thing in my life was seeing him come up the driveway (sighs).
Lena Andrews: And he told me, they found her (sighs).
Lena Andrews: To lose her like this … its indescribable.
As painful as it was, this was no longer a missing person’s case — but a homicide. An autopsy would later reveal Diana had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and had been strangled to death.
Investigators believed they had a strong case connecting Jones to the parking lot where Diana was found. But something was gnawing at them: how did Mike Jones leave the area without a car?
Lt. Matt Harrelson: So, we just started cold calling some of these taxi agencies. … And I said, “Hey did you get a fare … to Vero … in the last couple of days?” And then we hit one. And I was like, Wow. You know, like that just like that doesn’t happen every day. So, we got lucky on that one.
Around 8 a.m., after Jones dropped off Diana’s car, a man called for a taxi down the street.
Former cab driver: I showed up and there was a guy outside with a red hoodie on and, um, he got in the passenger side of the vehicle.
During the hour-long ride they briefly chatted.
Former cab driver: I asked him questions like, “What brought you down here?” And he said, “Oh well, I came here with a friend of mine.” You know, um and so then I asked, “Well how come you didn’t get a ride back with your friend to Vero Beach?” And he said well, they got into an argument, and she’s very pissed with him.
The former cab driver — who asked us not to use his name — says that he dropped the man off across the street from an apartment in Vero Beach. It was Mike Jones’s apartment.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: The kicker was … he was able to pick him out of a lineup too which really helped our case.
And just two days after they found Diana’s body, they had enough evidence to officially charge Mike Jones with her murder. He would plead not guilty.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: He didn’t show any emotion. He didn’t ask any questions. He just sat there.
Florida State Attorney’s Office, 19th Circuit
SGT. KMETZ: You there, Mike?
MIKE JONES: Yeah. I request my right to counsel.
SGT. KMETZ: Fair enough.
MIKE JONES: And my right to remain silent.
LT. HARRELSON: OK.
SGT. KMETZ: OK.
LT. HARRELSON: We have no more, nothing else to say to you.
Assistant State Attorney Brian Workman was assigned to prosecute the case along with State Attorney Thomas Bakkedahl. As they started digging, they soon learned that Mike Jones was no ordinary suspect.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: He doesn’t fit the mold of your average violent murderer.
Jones was well educated, with a masters and law degree. And he was a respected member of the Vero Beach community.
Stewart Pierce: It was shocking that Mike would have done this. I think it blew everybody’s mind.
Stewart Pierce was friends with Jones.
Stewart Pierce: Mike Jones was a guy that you wanted to be friends with. … He was clean cut. A real nice guy.
He first met him at a networking luncheon shortly after Jones had moved to Vero Beach in the summer of 2013.
Stewart Pierce: We saw him everywhere that there was to be seen. … Cufflinks and a well-starched shirt.
Jones was often seen at local charity events.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: Here is a guy who was able to work his way into the community here. I mean, he was doing charitable activities. He actually showed up and walked for the very same domestic violence organization that I’m a board member for.
Jones was also active in the bar scene and had made many friends in a short period of time. Investigators interviewed some of them on audio tape:
AUDIO INTERVIEW: “I would say that he was ambitious.”
AUDIO INTERVIEW: “I could trust him with things that I would trust my family with …”
AUDIO INTERVIEW: “Michael was a genius. … one of the smartest people I had ever you know dealt with.”
And when it came to work, Jones thrived at his job in Wealth Management at PNC Bank.
Prosecutor Brian Workman: And he brought people in who had a lot of money. And he had performance reviews, emails that went back and forth between PNC personnel raving about his job performance and how great he was doing there.
In his last performance review from four months before Diana was murdered, his boss wrote:
“Michael has shown that he has strong ethics and leadership qualities. He is a big asset for PNC …”
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: This guy was a master manipulator. This guy was running multimillion-dollar accounts for a bank as a convicted felon. So, he was able to con a bank!
“48 Hours” reached out to PNC Bank to ask if they knew Jones had a record and was on probation for stalking that woman near Fort Lauderdale in 2012. They declined to comment.
His friends, however, had no idea. But what they did know about Jones’s past is there were a lot of stories.
Ellie Sexton: I remember the stories … like every time there was a zinger.
Ellie Sexton dated Jones shortly before he started dating Diana.
Ellie Sexton: Mike told me that his sister was dating Jason Aldean and he told me that he was adopted by Ronald Reagan’s son.
Ellie Sexton: Mike drove a gold Honda Accord that was probably 10 years old. But he told me that he had a penthouse in Fort Lauderdale, that he had a Porsche that he just didn’t want to damage.
Stewart Pierce: Well Mike Jones told me that he was adopted. And that he played some minor league baseball. But one time hanging out on the beach and seeing him throw a football made me think that he’d probably never played minor league baseball.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: Nothing in his life was the truth. Who he really is, to this day, I’m not sure we know.
Prosecutors were certain of one thing: that Mike Jones was a murderer. And now, as they prepared to go to trial, they learned that Diana was one of Mike Jones’s many victims. The only difference is the others got away.
Ellie Sexton: My family has all said, you skipped death (sighs).
A PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: Say a woman’s name with whom he had a relationship … and there is abuse.
As prosecutors continued to unearth more details about Mike Jones, they say there was a clear pattern in how he treated his ex-girlfriends.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: He’s Prince Charming in the door, right? … But then slowly, he’ll begin telling them, what to wear … what friends to hang out with. … He’s calling incessantly. … Showing up at restaurants … He’s reading her phone. … A couple of the women that we talked to, he would hold them in place for long periods of time.
Ellie Sexton: He was very controlling.
Ellie Sexton only dated Mike Jones for a few months but says she witnessed his violent temper.
Ellie Sexton: Mike never got physical. But there were a few times that he just had some jealousy behaviors. I do remember him screaming in my face one time and getting really close to me … and feeling fear.
And investigators also learned that Mike Jones’s stories about his past were flat out lies.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: He’s a pathological liar.
In a personal essay he wrote for college admission, Jones claimed that he was “born into poverty” to uneducated and abusive parents. He wrote that he was “placed with several foster families” and eventually was adopted.
Michelle Miller: What is the truth about his upbringing?
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: What do you think?
Prosecutor Brian Workman: He was spoiled rotten. His, his parents bought him motorcycles. They put him in private school. … And it wasn’t until his parents told him that they weren’t going to pay for any more education, meaning law school. … That was the point where he broke it off with them … Manipulating, trying to get what he wanted.
“48 Hours” reached out to Jones’s family, but we never heard back from them.
And the manipulation continued while Jones attended a graduate law program at the University of Miami. According to an email to his fellow students in 2010, Jones claimed that he was “battling prostate, pancreas and stomach cancer” and other alleged medical conditions that prohibited him from often attending classes.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: We have no record of any type of cancer diagnosis in his background or anything like that.
But despite Mike Jones’s dark past of lies and abusing other women, prosecutors could only tell a jury about his abuse of Diana and her murder.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: You should be convicting somebody for the crime that they committed. Not based upon what they’ve done in the past.
And when it was time to go to trial, they had to make an important decision whether to go for the death penalty.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: Well, that was a tough one. … We sat down with Lena, and we said listen, when we take this step, it’s a whole different process.
He explained that the proceedings could drag on for years and even if one juror did not believe Jones deserved the death penalty, he would be given a life sentence instead.
Lena Andrews: I wanted the death penalty, absolutely. He lost his right to live when he killed her, when he killed Diana.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: Brian and I agreed with them and thought that this is the route we need to take.
In October of 2019 Mike Jones’s trial finally began in Vero Beach.
Patrick Dove /USA Today Network
During opening remarks, prosecutors told the jury that Mike Jones abused Diana mentally and physically during their short six month on-and-off again relationship.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: She would talk about her feelings and the things that he had done and how he would be demeaning … And he would flip it. … He would flip the script … and start blaming her and accusing her and suggesting that it’s her fault. … What he was doing was gaslighting her.
Florida State Attorney’s Office, 19th Circuit
To back up their claims of physical abuse, prosecutors called Diana’s friend Chelsea DiMaio and showed the jury the photos she took after that domestic incident when Jones allegedly strangled Diana.
Chelsea DiMaio: I could clearly see that there were marks on her neck.
As disturbing as that was, Bakkedahl explained that after that domestic incident, Diana had secretly started seeing Jones on and off again.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: This is what happens in domestic violence. … people want to know why would she go back? … And it’s because of the control. And he had total control over her.
Prosecutors said no one knows what they talked about in the early hours of Friday, June 20, 2014, when they left the bar together and went to Jones’s apartment.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: Now they had been drinking that evening. And, of course, that has an impact on your judgment.
But Bakkedahl thinks Diana was trying to end the relationship for good.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: She was telling him that night it’s over. I have no doubt in my mind that this was the end of this relationship.
In fact, according to Lena, Diana had upcoming plans to go out West to visit a friend.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: And when he got wind of that, that was it.
Prosecutors said they believe Jones lost his temper, and that’s when he beat and strangled her.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: He had beaten her so badly … that he knew at that point in time he could not let her go. He knew that if she were to leave the house that night and had been covered in bruises …the jig was up for this guy, and he couldn’t allow that to happen. And so, he resorted ultimately to murder.
The State admitted they didn’t know exactly what time the murder took place but said blood evidence showed that Jones placed Diana’s body in the trunk of her car while it was parked in his garage.
Florida State Attorney’s Office, 19th Circuit
Lt. Matt Harrelson: Next to the threshold where the garage door comes down, where the concrete meets it, we found like two very small droplets of blood.
Michelle Miller: Whose were they?
Lt. Matt Harrelson: Diana’s.
When it was the defense’s turn to lay out their case, they told the jurors that in fact no one really knew exactly what happened after Jones and Diana left the bar on June 20. They raised the possibility that Diana’s death could have been an accident. Jones’s defense team declined “48 Hours”‘ request for an interview.
Lt. Matt Harrelson: They tried to act like, you know he was an upstanding citizen in our community. You know he had a solid job. Why would he do this to her? … It was almost insulting sometimes for them to even try to act like he wasn’t the monster that we knew him to be.
After seven days of testimony, the case went to the jury. The prosecutors felt confident.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: I expected a guilty verdict… but I didn’t expect it to happen as quickly as it did.
Michelle Miller: How quickly did it come back?
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: Like 45 minutes.
Michelle Miller: That says something.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: That says a lot. That says that somebody finally saw through Michael Jones’s bull****.
But they knew there were many challenges ahead. Now the jury would have to decide whether Mike Jones would live or die.
Michelle Miller: What did you tell Lena right after the trial?
Prosecutor Brian Workman: I remember hugging her.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: I specifically remember telling her, now the heavy lifting comes. Be ready.
LIFE OR DEATH?
Lena Andrews: She had so much good in her heart and he knew that.
Nearly a month after the verdict, the same jury that convicted Mike Jones of first-degree murder would now decide whether he would live or die.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: The penalty phase is … everything about the defendant.
Prosecutor Bakkedahl warned Lena that the sentencing hearing would be difficult to sit through.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: The poor defendant, all of the issues faced by the defendant throughout his life to the absolute and utter exclusion of, of her daughter.
Patrick Dove/USA Today Network
The defense called medical experts who testified Jones had received multiple blows to his head, possibly from doing motocross as a teen, and he suffered brain damage. One expert testified that Jones’s frontal lobe, which regulates decision making and impulse control, had been damaged and caused a significant cognitive defect.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: They wanted the jury to believe … that he had this major or minor cognitive deficit. … The problem is … in order to have that particular deficit, you can’t do things like balance a checkbook. … pay rent … And here’s a guy who went to law school … and managed multimillion dollar accounts.
When it was time for her victim impact statement, Lena surprised everyone, and confronted Jones face to face.
Lena Andrews: How can you do that with your bare hands? To the person that you supposedly love? How can anybody do that? How?
Patrick Dove/USA Today Network
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: She brought Diana to life in that courtroom. And if we were going to get the death penalty it was going to be on the back of that testimony … It was just a mother’s love for her child. It was big (tears up).
Throughout the entire trial Jones showed no emotion.
Lena Andrews: He absolutely had zero remorse, absolutely zero.
Even as his sentence was about to be read.
Prosecutor Brian Workman: His attorneys … they had their faces in their hands. They were leaning on the tables…. And he just sat there like a statue.
Mike Jones received a life sentence, much to the prosecutors’ disappointment.
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: For me it was devastating. (He tears up) … because we didn’t finish the job that we had promised Lena and the family. … I realized at that moment, if I can’t get death in this case, what case?
Michelle Miller: Do you remember how many for, how many against?
Prosecutor Thomas Bakkedahl: Yeah. I remember. I’ll never forget. It was 11 to 1. … The defense was playing for one holdout the entire time. That’s all they need … We needed to be perfect.
Lena Andrews WPEC affiliate tape: “He is still going to die in jail, one way or another. And he is never going to hurt another girl again.”
Lena Andrews: At the end of the day, my daughter, Diana, she’s not coming home. She’s not. And he’s still alive.
Lena wants people to remember and learn from her daughter’s story.
Lena Andrews: If this has happened to Diana, it’s gonna happen to anybody. If you feel something is not right, listen to yourself, because something is not right.
Today, after all these years, Diana’s bedroom looks exactly the way she left it.
Lena Andrews (looking at a photo of Diana): It’s one of the older pictures of Diana when she was a baby. … In Moldova. … She really didn’t want to take this picture. She was a little bit grumpy here.
Lena Andrews: I’m thinking about Diana the minute I wake up. … She’s the last thing I’m thinking about when I fall asleep every single day. And this is forever. That’s how it’s going to be.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Produced by Chris Young Ritzen. Marc Goldbaum, David Dow and Michelle Sigona are the development producers. Jennifer Terker and Hannah Vair are the field producers. Gary Winter, Doreen Schechter, George Baluzy and Mike McHugh are the editors. Lourdes Aguiar is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.