By Paige Madkins
Derek D’Nice Chatman had just arrived home from work on Oct. 17. He walked up the stairs and asked his wife, Ferguson protestor Melissa McKinnies, where his stepson, Danye Jones, was. She responded that Jones was downstairs. Chatman replied that he hadn’t seen him when he walked in.
McKinnies walked downstairs to look for Jones when she found a brick by the side of the couch. She picked up the brick and walked to her backyard to set it down. That’s when she noticed the overturned chair next to the tree. She looked up and found her son hanging from the tree. She turned and ran back to the house, screaming.
Hearing McKinnies scream, Chatman ran outside and stumbled on the scene that McKinnies had just discovered. McKinnies would later share a Facebook post of her son’s body, claiming he had been lynched.
***Warning: Graphic Image***
The death of Danye Jones has captured public attention due to the differing claims between McKinnies and the police currently investigating his death.
In an interview with ‘Rolling Out’, St. Louis County Police Spokesman, Shawn McGuire, announced that Jones’ death is still an active investigation. While speaking to ‘CBS News’ McGuire said, “…based on all the physical evidence and the current thorough investigation, they are investigating it as a suicide.”Additionally, police have claimed there were no signs of trauma or foul play on the 24-year-olds body.
Jones’ family has disputed the police investigation. Addressing the rumors about Jones’ mental health, Chatman said Jones was not depressed.
‘He was a happy young man, always filled with joy,’ Chatman explained, ‘he was always upbeat… always joking or if he wasn’t doing none of that he was constantly grinding on his business. His main ambition was to be able to take care of his mom.’
When they found the body, Chatman noticed that it looked like Jones must have been ‘putting up some type of resistance because his fist was completely balled up’ and his pants were completely pulled down to his ankles. According to Chatman, this led him to conclude that it was an attack by white supremacists.
‘I know a little history of white supremacists,’ Chatman said, ‘it was like a ritual that they would do. Once they hung our ancestors on the tree, they would pull their pants down around their ankles to shame them.’
Another indicator to the family that Jones’ death was not a suicide was the intricacy of the knot in the sheet. Something Chatman claims, Jones wouldn’t know how to tie.
‘It was tied in an intricate navy knot,’ Chatman explained, ‘he’s never been in the military, he’s never been a boy scout or anything.’
For Chatman, the police investigation has raised a lot of question. He claims that when the family called 911, they were instructed to take Jones’ body down before the police could investigate the scene for evidence.
‘They just kept asking these questions, instead of saying, ‘hey, where are you guys located?’ Chatman said, ‘then they instructed us to take him down from the tree, which was also odd because we knew that was not the procedure.’
According to Chatman, it took the police 25 minutes to show up with a crime scene investigator. Thirty minutes later, the police had determined that Jones had committed suicide and collected all of his belongings, including the bed sheet, to investigate. When the family went to the morgue, Chatman claims that they received all of Danye’s belongings back, except the sheet. Prompting him to call the detective in charge, who told him that the case was an ongoing investigation and that the sheet would be kept as evidence.
‘If this was a suicide and there was no crime, then they should be able to give us his personal belongings. So why didn’t they give us the sheet back?’ Chatman asked, ‘they are clearly hiding something.’
That’s when the family posted the pictures onto social media. They went viral. McKinnies was asked to speak at press conferences and appear on television. Immediately after, Chatman says the detective contacted and asked to speak to them but McKinnies made it clear that she did not want to talk.
According to Chatman, not all the attention to the case has been positive. Allegedly, a few days ago, McKinnies younger son was approached by five county policemen as he was walking out of Pizza Hut. They asked him if he ever found out who killed his brother and how his son was doing. According to Chatman, a young lady was locking up the building and was asked by the policemen to leave. She refused to do so.
‘We don’t know, had that girl not been there, what their intentions were,’ Chatman said.
Currently, the family has only one goal. Finding out what happened to Jones, while restoring his image back to who they knew he was. A healthy and happy man with goals.
‘All we want is the truth out there. We want his name to be respected. We don’t want anyone trying to run his name through the dirt,’ Chatman explained, ‘ We don’t want none of that because that’s not how he was.’