Jones murder suspect arrested in New Jersey

COVINGTON - Newton County Sheriff Joe Nichols and Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan announced Thursday that New Jersey authorities have arrested a suspect in the murder of Gary Lamar Jones, which occurred Sunday on Benedict Drive.

Rodney Young, 40, of 71 Giles St., Bridgeton, N.J., has been charged with one count of murder, one count of malice murder and one count of burglary in connection with the slaying of the Red Lobster restaurant employee and former prison guard with the Georgia Department of Corrections.

"Through our investigation and from people we interviewed, his name came up," said NCSO Investigator Sharron Stewart.

An agent with the GBI and an investigator with the NCSO had traveled to New Jersey on Wednesday to pursue the investigation into Young's involvement in Jones' murder, according to John Bankhead, spokesman with the GBI.

Bankhead said Young was known to the family as a friend of Jones' mother. The Jones family is originally from New Jersey.

Young's return to Newton County to face the charges against him is pending an extradition hearing in New Jersey.

Stewart said the NCSO was assisted in the arrest by the New Jersey State Police and their Major Crime Unit, as well as the Bridgeton, N.J., Police Department.

Stewart said her office is not yet releasing the facts surrounding the murder, as it is preparing for prosecution. She did say, however, that investigators believe the home where Jones was killed at 65 Benedict Drive was forcibly entered prior to the murder and that their investigation has not yet uncovered a motive for the crime.

"We are still looking into that," she said.

Stewart said Young is believed to be an employee of a manufacturing plant in New Jersey.

Jones was found dead in his home about 11 p.m. Sunday by his mother when she returned from work. Authorities were able to determine the last phone contact with Jones came around 1:30 p.m.

On Tuesday, Pastor Eric Lee of Springfield Baptist Church, where Jones was a member and sang in the choir, announced the offer of a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Jones' death.

Stewart said the information that led to Young's arrest was not a result of the reward offer.

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.