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Spokane man accused of beating, killing girlfriend’s toddler before fleeing to Las Vegas

By Emma Epperly, The Spokesman-Review
Published: February 7, 2024, 8:00am

SPOKANE — A Spokane man is accused of beating and killing a 3-year-old last week and fleeing to Las Vegas where he was arrested, according to court documents.

John L. Jones, 38, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder on Thursday.

Medics responded to a house on the 5000 block of North Ash Street on Jan. 31 after a woman called to report her son, Wesley Brenston-Studebaker, wasn’t breathing.

Medics told officers the boy was clearly dead and cold to the touch when they arrived, according to court documents. They saw fresh bruising on the boy’s face and torso.

The boy’s mother spoke with police. She said Jones, her boyfriend, picked her and her two children up from the day care where she works at about 3 p.m. Her co-workers and surveillance footage confirmed both boys had no obvious injuries at that time.

Jones dropped her off at the Sprague Avenue Walmart to grocery shop and left with the kids. She called him to pick her up after she was done shopping.

After waiting awhile, she called Jones, who said he was at the Shadle Walmart. She reminded him she was at the Sprague Avenue Walmart and he came and got her. Surveillance footage confirmed the woman waited nearly an hour after she finished her shopping.

When she got into the car, she noticed both the children were sleeping in their car seats. Jones apologized and said he fed the boys McDonald’s for dinner.

When they got home, Jones unloaded the groceries and she began to put them away while Jones brought the sleeping boys into the house.

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Her younger son woke up and she fed him a banana.

Jones told his girlfriend he needed to go bring his daughter from a previous relationship her birthday present and left in her van. He said he would return in about an hour.

After more than an hour had passed, Jones called and told her he would be back in 20 minutes. Jones called her again and told her he was getting pulled over by a police officer and wanted to get her car back to her. He told her he parked it at the gas station near her house.

When she walked to the gas station, she didn’t see Jones, her van or police.

Jones called back and said police let him off with a ticket and everything was fine. She texted him a while later to see how long it would be before he came back to the house.

Jones said he was at the Burger King off Francis Avenue and asked her to call and report her car stolen.

She told police that she grew tired of waiting for Jones and decided to go to bed. That’s when she checked on Wesley and found that he wasn’t breathing and was cold to the touch.

She yelled at her sister, who was home, and took Wesley downstairs. She noticed blood in the toddler’s mouth, bruising on his chin, and that his eyes were half open. Medics were called and arrived a short time later.

The woman called Jones and told him Wesley was dead.

He said, “You lying,” according to court documents. She then asked Jones if something happened. He hung up, then texted her to say he got pulled over again and was going to jail.

He also said something like, “Please don’t do me. Please don’t do me like that. What’s going on, what the hell is going on?” according to court documents.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner listed Wesley’s cause and manner of death as pending. According to court documents, the boy had extreme internal bleeding and two cracked ribs. The doctor who performed the autopsy likened his injuries to the trauma of a serious car crash or falling two or three stories.

Due to the lack of injuries to the woman’s other toddler and lack of damage on her van when it was recovered, investigators wrote in court documents they don’t believe there was a car crash.

Jones was arrested in Las Vegas Thursday night, still driving the van. Jones remained in the Clark County (Nevada) Jail on Tuesday evening.