Authorities: Suspect in 6 Ariz. killings never got over his divorce
Dwight Lamon Jones apparently never put his bitter divorce behind him.
Almost eight years after splitting from his wife, the Phoenix-area man began confronting people connected with the breakup and shooting them, killing six people in four days last week before ending his own life as police drew near, authorities said.
A day after Jones’ death, police said they did not know why he waited so long to seek vengeance. But experts said it’s not unusual for killers who feel wronged by catastrophic life events to wait years to settle old scores.
“Most mass killings in American history were planned over months and years,” said Jack Levin, a professor emeritus of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University in Boston and author of several books on serial killings and mass murderers. He said the planning brings pleasure to would-be assailants.
Details of the 2010 divorce emerged in court documents, which showed Jones walked away from the 22-year marriage with a Mercedes, a $100,000 lump-sum payment and $6,000-a-month alimony payments provided by his ex-wife, a radiologist.
His wife was awarded sole custody of their then-13-year-old son, and the payments were set to end after five years. Jones lived in extended-stay hotels for nine years after the split, police said.
So far, investigators have been unable to determine a precise motive for the shootings, but they say three of the victims were directly tied to the divorce – a forensic psychiatrist who testified about Jones’ mental health and two paralegals who worked for the law firm that represented the suspect’s wife.
The slayings went against the typical pattern of violence stemming from divorces by targeting professionals involved in the split rather than the ex-spouse, Levin said.
“It’s usually the wife who would be the victim of a mass killer,” Levin said.
Jones spent hours in online videos griping about his ex-wife and the court system that sided with her in the divorce.
In one video, he made a disparaging remark about Dr. Steven Pitt, who testified in 2010 that Jones had anxiety and mood disorders and was at risk of using violence against his wife, child and himself.