The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Jones’ mother seeks to understand son’s death
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
When Monica Jenkins arrived on the scene of the motorcycle accident in Westmoreland County that claimed the life of her fourth child, she was in disbelief.
She cried as she tried to wake him up. Then she leaned over his body, kissed him and told him that she loved him.
As Tevin “Little Chris” Jones was taken away around 2:30 a.m. last Sunday, Jenkins asked a police officer to shine his flashlight on a butterfly on the ground near her feet. Then Jenkins picked it up, and let it fly away.
“I believe in my heart,” Jenkins said, “that was my son.”
The Stafford County mother of seven has spent most of the past four days and nights in tears. She’s attempting to understand why Jones’ promising life ended at age 19.
“The spiritual side of me understands what God has done,” Jenkins said. “But the flesh part of me, I just don’t have any understanding right now. I know it’s going to take time for me to get that understanding.”
Jenkins received a phone call after midnight last Sunday from Jones’ aunt, telling her she needed to head to Chatham Lane quickly. As Jenkins was driving from Stafford, she was told that Jones had died at the scene.
He was driving his cousin and roommate’s 2006 Yamaha when he lost control, ran off the right side of the road and struck a utility pole. Jones was wearing a safety helmet and alcohol wasn’t a factor, according to a Virginia State Police report.
Jenkins said Jones had little experience on motorcycles and it “wasn’t in his character” to ride one.
Jones’ older brother, Torrey Smith, a Baltimore Ravens’ wide receiver, said riding motorcycles, dirt bikes and four-wheelers is “part of the culture” in Westmoreland County, where he and Jones spent much of their childhood.
“He wanted to do it the right way,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, this happened. He had been on one before, but I wouldn’t say he was experienced.”
Jenkins said the cousin who owned the motorcycle is “heartbroken,” as is the rest of the family.
“He was a good kid. He always got my approval on stuff,” Jenkins said. “I don’t know why he didn’t get my approval this time. But God works in mysterious ways.”
‘ON THE RIGHT TRACK’
Jones graduated from King George High School in 2011. Foxes football coach Jeff Smith said the standout quarterback was known for his leadership skills and upbeat attitude.
For the past year, Jones worked as a security guard at McLane Mid Atlantic, a grocery and food service supply chain in Stafford County.
He and his cousin shared an apartment in Fredericksburg. Jones was planning to enroll in Germanna Community College in January to major in criminal justice.
“There was really nothing negative about him,” Jenkins said. “He ran from trouble. Trust me, if a fight broke out, he wasn’t the one being nosy to see. He was the one in the car, gone. He did not like trouble.”
After Germanna, Jones wanted to attend Old Dominion University. His ultimate goal was to work for the federal government as a security officer.
“He was very mature,” Smith said. “He was always calling me, asking for advice. I told him if he goes to school and does what he’s supposed to, I would take care of him. He was on the right track. He understood everything he needed to do.”
When Jones wasn’t working, he was helping his family. Jenkins works part time and is seeking full-time employment.
So, when she had to work, run errands or fill out applications, Jones helped with his three younger siblings. He picked them up from school or took them to doctor’s appointments.
He filled the role Smith once had before he departed Stafford High School and went on to the University of Maryland.
Jenkins said when she visited Jones’ body on Tuesday, she told him she still expects him to watch over the family.
“I’m numb and in disbelief,” she said. “Even though I’ve seen him, I can’t believe it because he was such a good kid. For this to happen, it’s like, I don’t believe it.”
Jenkins said Jones enjoyed times with family and friends more than anything else. When he wasn’t working, he was often at his mother’s house eating, washing clothes and playing video games with little brother Minky.
He also had a close relationship with his paternal grandparents, Earl and Emma Dixon. He lived with them in Westmoreland—a short distance from where the accident took place—for several years before he moved to King George to be with his mother.
“They did a great job with him,” Smith said of the Dixons. “They deserve a lot of credit.”
When Jones returned to his mother, Smith was in college, and Minky wanted to learn how to play football.
Minky turned to Jones, but he didn’t know what he was getting himself into. He said Jones wanted to practice in the backyard nonstop, even on 100-degree days. Minky said Jones “knew everything about every sport, except maybe soccer.”
Jones still played basketball often at the YMCA in Stafford. Jenkins attended his flag football game at the Fredericksburg Field House last Friday and said, “He was talking smack to everybody.”
Jones wanted to become a coach with the King George Youth Athletic Association.
“He never had time to get there,” said Minky, now a freshman on Stafford High’s junior varsity football team. “He would’ve been a real good coach. He turned someone who didn’t know a lot about football, like me, into somebody who loves football now.”
A QUICK TURNAROUND
Smith received national attention for his performance on the same day he learned of his brother’s death. He caught six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns in the Ravens’ 31–30 victory over the New England Patriots Sunday night.
The family watched the game from home. Jenkins said it was emotional because she could tell how much pain Smith was in.
“The way he played that night showed the determination and the courage I instilled in him as a child,” Jenkins said. “He played from his heart and I was really proud of him.”
Smith has received condolences from throughout the sports world, even rival players. The Rev. Jesse Jackson called him and Jenkins earlier this week to express his sorrow.
Smith will be expected to play again Thursday night when the Ravens host the Cleveland Browns. The funeral for Jones will be noon Saturday in the King George High School gym.
Jenkins said Jones’ spirit will be with the family during Thursday’s game. Smith is sending a driver to pick up the entire family and bring them to Baltimore.
They’ll wear long-sleeved T–shirts with a picture of Jones on the front and “R.I.P. Lil Chris” on the back.
“We’re going to the game,” Jenkins said, “and we’re going to represent for Little Chris.”
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526