Sunday, February 25, 2024

After ‘extensive’ two-week search, Wilmington teen found dead in Pender County

WPD Chief Donny Williams and District Attorney Ben David announce 16-year-old Miyonna Jones’ body was found in Pender County on Thursday morning. (Port City Daily/Amy Passaretti)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — The body of a missing 16-year-old was found Thursday morning.

“It’s been a somber two weeks for the entire community and, unfortunately, has come to a tragic end,” Wilmington Police Department Chief Donny Williams said Thursday afternoon at a press conference at WPD headquarters.

The exact location of where law enforcement discovered 16-year-old Miyonna Jones will not be revealed at this time, though District Attorney Ben David said it was “up there” in Pender County.

After a two-week search, the body of 16-year-old Miyonna Jones was found in Pender County (Courtesy/WPD)

Jones’ family has been notified, officials said.

“As a father myself, I can’t imagine the suffering right now this young lady’s family must be enduring,” David said. “They have our commitment that we are going to do everything we can to make sure she gets justice.”

The teen was declared missing Nov. 2, according to WPD, and was last seen the day before in the 1100 block of S. 7th St. in Wilmington. Williams said detectives began the search immediately, which included an “extensive” amount of time at the New Hanover County Landfill on Nov. 3 and 4. 

“But what led us there and why we pivoted to where we ultimately made the discovery is going to be the subject of what we can say in court,” David said.

Jahreese Jones, 25

Williams and David said two individuals were charged in relation to the case. 

Jones’ half-brother, 25-year-old Jahreese Jones, has been in custody since Nov. 2 and was arrested Nov. 3. He has been charged with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape and assault by strangulation, as well as possession of a firearm by a felon and parole violation. He made his first appearance in court Nov. 7 and is being held on a $1.4-million bond.

Jahreese’s girlfriend Randi Johnson, 27, was charged Nov. 5 with obstructing justice, related to Miyonna’s disappearance. She also made a first appearance in New Hanover County court Nov. 7 and is being held under a $1,000 bond.

Randi Johnson, 27

Williams and David stated more charges are expected, including murder. 

“But we’re going to deliberate and make sure we have the necessary forensic evaluations that need to take place,” David said.

“We’re doing everything in our power to ensure anyone involved is charged to the fullest extent with the commission of this despicable crime,” Williams added.

Neither would provide additional information, though a WPD press release from Nov. 7 stated detectives expected foul play.

“We intend to say plenty in the courtroom,” he said. “They’ve given us a lot to work with.”

During his 23 years as a prosecutor and 18 years as DA, David added he had never seen a more “extensive” investigation involving so many officers and non-law-enforcement agencies. The WPD was assisted by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, New Hanover County Environmental Management and the landfill staff, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Brunswick Search and Rescue, Wilmington Fire Department, and the Pender County Sheriff’s Office.

“This is not the homecoming any of us wanted but I applaud those agencies,” he said. “I saw them personally offer up continuing to work beyond when their shift was over. They were truly trying to volunteer to stay on to try to find this young lady.”

Williams said WPD will implement departmental protocol and refer all employees for mental health follow-ups.

“This has taken a mental toll on our personnel and others involved,” he said.

The investigation is ongoing. 

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