Investigation Discovery’s ‘In Pursuit with John Walsh’ is a series wherein victims’ rights activist John Walsh and his son, Callahan, examine some of the baffling unsolved cases in an attempt to give them the coverage they need and hopefully bring them to a satisfactory close. From violent crimes to mysterious disappearances, every matter profiled here is time-sensitive and needs tips from everyday individuals to help the authorities. Thus, of course, its episode ‘Murder in Appalachia,’ chronicling the assassination of Janina Jefferson, is no different. And now, if you’re curious to know all the details of the crime, we’ve got you covered.
How Did Janina Jefferson Die?
From Big Stone Gap, Virginia, 38-year-old Janina Jefferson was a kind, caring, and loving woman by all accounts. As a single mother of three kids, two sons and a daughter, she worked hard to provide for them. Not only did she paint store windows around town and manage her design-your-own glass business during the day, but she also spent her nights serving at the Appalachia Water Treatment Plant. However, it was her larger-than-life personality that got everyone’s attention. Her children even said that Janina was an exceptional human being, always pushing them to pursue their dreams.
So, when Janina suddenly lost her life on November 27, 2016, a Thanksgiving weekend, they couldn’t believe it. After all, she had eaten a meal with her daughter just hours earlier, heading to the water plant only once it was dark outside. Around 2 a.m., investigators were called to do a welfare check on the employee, but they found out why she hadn’t logged in for work as soon as they arrived. Janina’s body was sprawled on the icy gravel driveway heading into the facility, bruised and bloodied. She had been shot multiple times, and it was clear that her killer did not even attempt to hide their brutal actions.
Who Killed Janina Jefferson?
The authorities quickly settled that whoever took Janina Jefferson’s life had to have known her well. Based on the evidence, they said, it looked like the killer was waiting for her to show up at work, where they took her by surprise and starting firing from a close range. Their rage was evident in their crime. Because there was no video surveillance at the water plant, detectives relied heavily on statements from Janina’s friends and family, only to discover that she was recently having troubles with Eric Jones, her ex-husband.
Janina had taken out a protection order against Eric because he had tried to strangle her around the same time their divorce – having married three years prior – was finalized in September 2016. Eric’s background as the son of a pastor from a well-known family, and his behavior towards Janina’s kids weren’t problematic, but his extensive criminal history was. And when the cops tried to bring him in for questioning, he was nowhere to be found. In fact, the last time anyone saw him was in a store, where he bought beer and another small item, right after his ex-wife’s murder. He hasn’t been heard from since.
With that, investigators became sure that Eric Jones was behind Janina Jefferson’s murder and began to hunt for him. Although they are yet to find and apprehend him, they have been able to charge his accomplice, Jacob Seth Rowland. As another Big Stone Gap, Wise County, native and Eric’s close friend, he has been accused of driving Eric to and fro from the murder scene. The official charges against him are accessory to murder, trespassing, violating a protection order, and conspiring to intimidate Janina or impede her testimony against Eric. Jacob was caught in late 2016 itself.
Where is Eric Jones Now?
In his late 40s now, the authorities say that Eric Monroe Jones could be anywhere in the world, but the case against him remains open. The Wise County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service, is diligent in determining his current whereabouts and continues to gather the necessary information that could help solve this matter once and for all. For this, they are offering a reward of $10,000 for any tips leading to his arrest and conviction.
As of today, in connection to Janina Jefferson’s case, Eric is charged with first-degree murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and use of a firearm during the commission of a murder in the state of Virginia. Moreover, he is also wanted for a probation violation from an attempted murder-for-hire conviction that stems from a 1998 incident. Anyone with information regarding Eric’s current location can call 1-800-336-0102 or submit a tip right here.