Jonathan Foster Murder: Where is Mona Nelson Now?

We all have those days when we are stressed and frustrated as nothing seems to go our way, and suddenly a very trivial issue pushes us off the edges. On Christmas Eve of 2010, a bout of anger seemingly drove a person to commit a horrendous crime in Houston, Texas, when a chirpy 12-year-old was abducted from his home only to be found torched to death a few days later.

Investigation Discovery’s ‘The Interrogator: Missing on Christmas Eve’ meticulously chronicles the kidnapping and murder case of Jonathan Foster and throws light on how the authorities zeroed in on the perpetrator. If you are curious about more details about the case and wish to know about the killer’s identity and current whereabouts, we have your back. 

How Did Jonathan Foster Die?

Born in November 1998 to Angela Davis and Richard Foster, Jonathan Paul Foster was a fifth grader from Texas who underwent a difficult childhood with his parents splitting up when Jonathan was quite young. When he was just 6, Jonathan was taken in by his uncle, Glenn Scrimsher, who felt Angela was not fit to bring up a child on her own due to “narcotics, drugs, alcohol.” For four years, the kid lived with Glenn on his Missouri farm along with his wife and kids. Glenn said, “Jonathan was a wonderful kid. He was like my son.” 

Image Credit: Jonathan Foster’s Family/CBS News

However, Jonathan returned to Texas in November 2009 to live with his grandmother, against Glenn’s wishes. Soon, the kid insisted on living with his mother. At the time of the incident, Jonathan and his mother were temporarily living in the apartment of Sharon Ennamorato, who was Angela’s friend. Neighbors described the kid as a fun and outgoing child who had just joined the Durham Elementary School. On the afternoon of December 24, 2010, Jonathan was alone in the apartment with specific instructions from her mother not to allow anyone in during her absence.

As per Angela, she received a suspicious phone call from the apartment at around 2 pm when she was just about to reach the place. In the call, she reportedly heard a woman say, “Is your mama’s name Angela?” The mother heard her kid say, “Yes, ma’am, my mama’s name is Angela.” Minutes later, Angela rushed to find her son missing. A missing complaint was filed around 3:45 pm. His stepfather, David Davis, was the last to see Jonathan alive. The police initially insisted that the boy might have run away but issued an Amber Alert on December 27, 2010.

The next afternoon, the 4-day long search for the missing kid ended when the police found an unidentified burnt body of a child in a ditch on North Shepherd and 43rd Street in north Houston, about five miles away from the place where the kid resided. It was wrapped in a carpet and tied up with twine. Shockingly, the body was burnt and disfigured beyond recognition. With the help of dental records, the forensic experts identified the body as that of Jonathan Foster. However, the corpse was so severely torched that even pathologists failed to determine how exactly the 12-year-old was murdered. 

Who Killed Jonathan Foster?

Investigators initially blamed the conflicting accounts given by Angela and David Davis for causing the delay in the investigation. They did not divulge many details except for specifying that initially, the parents had said that Jonathan was with a babysitter only to alter their accounts into saying he was alone in the apartment. After extensively interviewing the family members and others, the police still couldn’t find a suspect. However, a surveillance camera near the site where Jonathan’s body was found gave police the breakthrough they were looking for in the case.

In the video, the authorities stated that a silver pickup truck came to a halt near a ditch in front of a building on East Hardy around 6 pm on the day Jonathan went missing. The detectives further added that a woman stepped out of the vehicle and dumped a body on the ground out of the bed of the truck. Upon questioning the family members and the neighbors, the officials identified the person as Mona Yvette Nelson, who was reported to be an “acquaintance” of the family.

Mona Nelson is a former boxer who worked as a welder then. She immediately became the primary suspect in the case. When questioned, Mona reportedly admitted to only speaking with Jonathan alone in the apartment just hours before his disappearance but insisted that she then went on her way. The police theorized that Nelson was the unknown woman on the phone call that Angela allegedly received and decided to search her house and car. Upon searching her home, the authorities found welding tools, like torches and twines identical to the ones used to tie up Jonathan.

Detective Mike Miller went on record to state, “We stumbled into a wealth of evidence that showed Jonathan’s body was burned at the residence, evidence that shows perhaps the tools he was burned with.” Moreover, a neighbor of Sharon stated how Nelson even was present while the family frantically searched for Jonathan on Christmas Eve of 2010. The investigators believed that Nelson was a “cold, soulless murderer” and predator, and Jonathan was not her first act of violence against children. Thus, Nelson was arrested on December 30 on the charges of capital murder by the authorities.

At her trial in August 2013, Nelson claimed that in the surveillance video, she was helping Jonathan’s stepfather, David, who allegedly asked her to dispose of a full trash can. She proffered her innocence by saying she was ignorant of what was inside. Her attorney, Allen Tanner, further alleged that David paid Nelson $20 to dispose of the body. However, phone call records and surveillance video placed David at a local bar during the period of the crime and were cleared of any wrongdoing.

The prosecutors brought out burned carpet scraps, similar to the one found at the ditch, and a sweatshirt belonging to Jonathan reportedly recovered from a trash can at Mona’s home. A forensic expert stated that the clothing item tested “positive for blood…that matched Mona Nelson.” Furthermore, a neighbor testified that he saw Mona in her truck at the driveway of the place Jonathan was last seen, adding that she left the residence half an hour later.

Mona Nelson is Serving Her Sentence

While no conventional motive was found, the prosecutor alleged Mona’s inebriated state and fiery temper to be the reason behind the murder. As per the District Attorney, Mona, under the influence of alcohol, was furious when Jonathan refused to let her enter the apartment and responded by attacking him. It was further alleged that Mona took the corpse to her home and used a welding torch to disfigure the body before dumping it in a ditch.

Against the advice of her counsel, Mona requested State District Judge Jeannine Barr to pronounce her punishment in the capital murder case instead of a jury. She was convicted of capital murder and received a strict sentence of life imprisonment without the chance of parole. She refused to testify and spoke in her defense only after the judgment was pronounced, stating, “I’m innocent, and I maintain my innocence. I wouldn’t harm anybody.”

Angela responded to the verdict by saying her son can “finally rest in peace” and said she had full faith in the Lord, who would want her to forgive Mona Nelson. According to official records, Mona is presently incarcerated at Gatesville Correctional Facility. In 2015, her appeal against the judgment was turned down by a three-judge panel of the Fourth District Texas Court of Appeals. She is filing a writ of habeas corpus at the State Court to ascertain her innocence. 

Read More: How Did Diane Kyne Die?