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Sun, Nov 09, 2003

Accused Killers Dump Body From USAF Aero-Club Aircraft

Police Say Pilot Later Committed Suicide

Police say it began on September 30th when 20-year old pilot Jacob Jones and 23-year old Michael Keyser lured 16-year old Kimberly Holton  to a motel room in Delaware. There, officers say the two men suffocated her -- perhaps with a pillowcase.

Delaware and New Jersey State Police say Jones, an aviation student at Delaware State University, then flew a Cessna 172 from the Aero Club at Dover Air Force Base to dump the girl's body. Lt. Col. Jon Anderson, the chief of public affairs at Dover AFB, said Jones had been an Air Force Junior ROTC member in high school. That's how he could join the Base Aero Club, get on the base and arrange to use a 172.

Police say Jones was able to get the body, bound in duct tape and chained to cinder blocks, on board the aircraft without attracting attention. He departed the base at 11:45 pm and returned at 1 am. Police speculate Jones slowed the aircraft, opened the right-side door, rolled a bit to the right and pushed the body out.

"He could have slowed the plane down, banked it and rolled her out," said Delaware State Police Lt. Joseph Aviola Jr.

"Everybody is absolutely flabbergasted he did it in an Aero Club airplane," Anderson said.

The Press of Atlantic City quotes Carlos Holmes, a spokesman for Delaware State, who said Jones  (below, right) was an aircraft systems major.

"He was steps ahead of most students here. He had a private pilot's license, an instruments license and a flight-instructor license. This was a shock to us and to the Airways Science Department," Holmes said.

But Delaware and New Jersey investigators say the plot began to fall apart when the body hit the water. The impact shattered the cinder blocks.

"When she hit the water, the cinder blocks broke apart. She was vertical in the water because of chains wrapped around her feet. She was like a buoy," Aviola said.

Ahhh, the chains. They were the key to unlocking the case. Detectives carefully analyzed the composition of the chains and traced their manufacture to a company that sells its wares to Lowe's Home Improvement stores.

So investigators picked a Lowe's in Dover and started watching videos. After seemingly endless hours, they spotted two men, one of them Jones, buying 15 feet of chains and cinder blocks. That was September 30th, just hours before Kimberly was murdered.

Police questioned Jones. It turns out he was dating the victim's foster-sister -- Kimberly Holton. Delaware State Police said in a statement:

"Detectives believe Jones and Keyser murdered Holton because Holton and her foster stepsister strongly disliked each other and that the foster stepsister did not like Holton being around.

Detectives also know that Jones disliked Holton because she openly teased and embarrassed him in front of her foster stepsister."

Police interviewed Jones on October 17th. Based partly on that, they arrested Keyser. Apparently faced with imminent arrest, the aviation student went to his parents' house and killed himself with a shotgun.

Keyser is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy and abusing a corpse. Police say Keyser tried to hang himself by his shoelaces while in jail. He was hospitalized but is now back in custody.

Kimberly's foster father is accused of abusing her while she was in his care, but is not a suspect in the murder.

Kimberly's body is now being tested by the New Jersey Medical Examiner's office to see what may have happened to her in her final hours of life.



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