Saturday, September 15, 2012

Monterey, CA: Monterey professor arrested in ex-wife's death

A distinguished Naval Postgraduate School professor and internationally recognized financial expert has been arrested in connection with the death of his ex-wife, whose body was found south of Gilroy last week.

Lawrence R. Jones, 69, the area chairman at NPS for Financial Management, was arrested late Thursday in Los Angeles after San Benito County Sheriff's investigators conducted a search of his home on Spray Avenue in Monterey.

The search followed the identification of the body of Norife Herrera Jones, 29, the professor's wife of about five years. The couple divorced recently, Monterey police Lt. Leslie Sonne said.

San Benito County Sheriff's investigators had been trying to identify the dead woman found Sept. 7 on Cannon Drive off Highway 101 south of Gilroy. Once identification was made, investigators issued orders to search Jones' home.

"Our investigation led to Monterey," Sheriff's Sgt. Tony Lamonica said. "Once we searched the scene, there was enough evidence to determine a homicide had occurred here."

An autopsy of Herrera Jones has been conducted, but investigators would not discuss its results or how they believe she died.

Jones is being held as the "primary suspect," Lamonica said. A team of investigators were en route to question him and bring him back to Monterey, Lamonica said.

Law enforcement officers have not determined if Jones was trying to flee.

The multi-agency search of the Spray Avenue home that included members of the San Benito County Sheriff's Office, the Monterey Police Department and the FBI began late Thursday. Neighbors said they saw a handful of police cars and about two dozen law enforcement officers canvass Jones' home. The FBI became involved in the case at the request of the San Benito County Sheriff's Office in its attempt to identify Herrera Jones' body.

A team of about 20 investigators returned Friday to the Spray Avenue house. Clad with white lab suits and blue gloves, they began gathering evidence in the garage of the two-story cream color home at 1 p.m. and continued into the early evening.

As investigators unloaded equipment, put on their lab suits and set up a blue tent, neighbors gathered in nearby homes, wondering what could have happened.

Larry Jones has lived on Spray Avenue since 1987, when he began teaching at NPS, according to public records. He mostly kept to himself, neighbors said, but his presence was hard to miss.

Next-door neighbor Sat Kirtan Khalsa said Jones remarried about five years ago.

The change in the professor was noticeable, Khalsa said. The previously reserved Jones began extolling the virtues of his wife, telling everyone how happy he was.

"He raved on and on about how great everything was going," she said. "He was a quiet person so it was unusual. It's about the only thing he shared with us over the years."

Jones told his neighbors he was in the import/export business. The story coincided with his frequent absences.

In reality, Jones is an internationally recognized financial management expert who worked as a visiting consultant for the Asian Development Bank, as a visiting scholar at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and the University of Siena in Italy.

His curriculum vitae on the NPS website lists his research interests in public management reform, change, budgeting; in national defense policy, and business-government relations and government regulatory policy.

NPS spokesperson Alan Richmond referred questions to the San Benito Sheriff's Office and said he would have no comments.

Retired NPS professor Jerry McCaffrey, who co-authored articles with Jones, said he knew little about his home life. McCaffrey retired to Green Bay five years ago, so he's had little news from his former colleague since then.

"Professor Jones is very distinguished at NPS," he said. "This is too bad. This saddens all of us."

Although Jones communicated little with neighbors, they were privy to some of his emotional outbursts.

One night more than a year ago, Khalsa was awakened by the sound of Jones' Lexus ramming into a truck parked on the street. The truck had been pushed into Khalsa's driveway, and the police arrived shortly afterward.

"They thought it was my truck," she said. "They took him away in handcuffs."

Records show Jones was arrested on April 11, 2011 by Monterey Police. Lt. Sonne; declined to speak about Jones' encounters with her department.

The last time neighbors remember seeing Jones was Monday, when he appeared to be putting out the garbage but was going in and out of the house, seemingly confused. Neighbors didn't know he had already divorced Herrera Jones, and they had not seen her for a while.

"I'm in shock," Khalsa said. "I don't like to think of things like that, but they do happen. Two people I knew, one is dead and the other one in jail. It's awful."

No comments: