MILLEDGEVILLE — Authorities say depression led a 22-year-old Milledgeville man to kill the mother of his 2-year-old son and then turn a shotgun on himself Tuesday.
The fatal incident marks the first homicide in Baldwin County this year.
Baldwin County sheriff’s deputies responded to 171 Highview Road about 10:20 a.m. and found 18-year-old Tarneshia Jones dead from a gunshot wound to the chest.
Authorities said Jones’ longtime boyfriend, Darian Napier, of 2303 Nobles Court, shot himself in the head after killing her.
The couple appeared to be alone inside the ivory colored mobile home during the shooting, investigators said.
Jones, who lived at the residence with her young son, Daquavious, her mother and a 9-year-old brother, had taken the toddler to day care that morning, said family members.
It was unclear if Jones, an employee at the OfficeMax on U.S. 441 near Milledgeville Mall, was expected at work that morning.
Sheriff Bill Massee said a close friend of Napier described the Chick-fil-A employee as overcome with depression in the days before Tuesday.
“The perpetrator had been deeply depressed and had been angry with the victim,” Massee said. “We have determined at this point that this was truly a domestic-related homicide/suicide.”
The incident remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office and the GBI.
Jones, whom family members and friends affectionately called “MuMu,” had endured an often tumultuous relationship with Napier, relatives said.
“They had their ups and downs,” said Sarah Lundy, a next door neighbor and family friend who considered herself Jones’ aunt.
Sierra Dixon, Jones’ cousin, said Napier appeared obsessed with Jones, whom he began dating before high school.
“He used to tell her if he can’t have her nobody else can have her,” Dixon said.
Jones, a 2008 graduate of Baldwin County High School, was a freshman at Georgia Military College where she planned to study nursing.
Massee visited with Jones’ parents Tuesday afternoon at her father’s north Baldwin County home.
Several family members gathered there into the evening.
“I know him very well. He’s been in the food business in our community for years. Our daughters were just two years apart in high school,” Massee said of Felix Jones, Jones’ father. “This is a tragedy, a horrible way to start off the year.”
Felix Jones said he was not aware of a history of domestic violence between his daughter and Napier.
“If there was one, it was hidden. I never saw bruises or scratches or anything like that,” he said. “I just think he was just head over heels for Tarneshia. I think she had a lot of family support and he did not. Mr. Napier would come here for holidays. He respected me. He had respect for my home.”
Jones said he last saw his daughter Monday evening when they traveled to Atlanta to look at a possible new family car.
He said he also saw Napier that night when he took Tarneshia to pick up Daquavious from Napier’s residence in the Dunlap area.
“She was a loving child. She was everything that a father would want in a daughter. She had three brothers that she loved dearly,” he said.
“Of course she had made some mistakes early on. But she was back on the right path and in school. We had an awesome relationship and we communicated several times a day.”
Geraldine Mason, Jones’ mother, declined to comment for this story.
Funeral arrangements are pending at Slater’s Funeral Home in Milledgeville. Family members plan to set up a bank account in memory of Tarneshia Jones at Magnolia State Bank, her father said. Contributions are welcomed in lieu of flowers.
“This will be used to help raise her son,” he said.
Napier, whose mother died years ago, lived with his grandmother, Liza Brown, said family members.
Yvette Brown, Napier’s aunt, said her family had not been in contact with Jones’ relatives on Tuesday but they were praying for them.
“I hate that this happened. It’s a tragedy and it shouldn’t have happened,” Brown said. “I wish that both of them could have been spared. That baby has lost his parents.”
To contact writer Ashley Tusan Joyner, call 744-4347.