Heather Jones, also known as Heather Palumbo-Jones, was a teacher and a mother who went missing from her Germantown, Tennessee, home in three years ago. Her badly burned body was eventually found, and her estranged husband, Chris Jones, was arrested and convicted for her death. The case captured the attention of her town and has also caught the attention of Dateline NBC, who followed the case. The episode dealing with Heather’s murder is “The Last Dance,” which was previously aired.
According to Dateline NBC’s coverage, Heather Palumbo-Jones had everything to live for. The 33-year-old mother had recently lost over 100 pounds and was feeling very good about herself. Jones was a teacher who taught kindergarten at the local elementary school and was adored by her students.
But when she failed to show up for her class one morning in April of 2013, a close friend and fellow teacher immediately knew something had to be terribly wrong, and Heather’s family was alerted.
Contacting Heather Jones by phone proved unsuccessful. Then, a relative decided to stop by the house to see if she was there. The car was parked in the driveway, and for a brief minute, the relative believed everything was fine. However, Heather was not inside. She was missing, and now everyone who loved her was frantic to find the missing mom and teacher.
Heather Jones’ estranged husband, Chris Jones, told police that he had received a strange email from Heather telling him to pick up their daughter. According to him, the email’s contents had a suicidal tone.
Police investigators and her friends immediately began searching for her. To find out more about her background, detectives began digging into her marriage with Chris. They learned that Heather married Chris Jones years earlier. They seemed happy at first, but then Heather Jones began rapidly gaining weight due to her heavy computer usage, her friends told Dateline.
For Heather Jones, the weight gain caused her to be depressed. However, the weight didn’t seem to bother her husband, who everyone said adored Heather, always making her feel beautiful. But things changed once Heather Jones started going to work-out classes, where she enjoyed moving to the latest grooves and learning sexy salsa and Latin dances.
People from her exercise group say that the weight began falling off immediately, and by the time she was finished, Heather Jones had completely transformed her body and her entire look.
With the drastic weight loss came a new outlook on life, and she wanted to live her life — without Chris. Her husband was unhappy with all the changes: Heather’s new look, her new friends, and her new attitude. In fact, close friends say Heather told them he wanted her to regain the weight, according to WMC 5 Action News.
“She told me he told her to gain the weight back. I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ He was a control freak.”
Chris Jones worried that he was about to lose her, and he was right. Heather Jones filed for divorce and was living apart from her husband at the time of her disappearance.
But there was something else. Detectives uncovered text messages that suggested that she was emotionally involved with another man. The other man, who lived 500 miles away, was eventually ruled out as a suspect, and everything began pointing back to Chris.
In the days after Heather Palumbo-Jones’ disappearance, Chris Jones made an appearance on television, where he cried about his missing wife. But in the interrogation room with police, he kept changing his stories, leading detectives to believe that he was involved in her disappearance.
After several hours, Chris Jones finally cracked and admitted to killing his wife. He also drew a map leading to the remains.
Found in a heavily wooded area of Tennessee was the badly burned body of Heather Jones. An autopsy report indicated that she died of asphyxia, as stated by the the Commercial Appeal. It was a tragic end for a woman who everyone said was an upbeat person with a wonderful personality.
For his crime, Chris Jones was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Watch “The Last Dance” on Dateline tonight at 10/9 p.m. Central on NBC. In the previous episode, Dateline aired the case of Jessie Blodgett.
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