As court records of the Aug. 31 divorce of murder victim Norife "Janie" Herrera Jones surfaced Wednesday, friends wondered why she may have traveled to Monterey in the days before she was killed.
Police say Janie Jones, 29, was shot and then dismembered by her ex-husband, respected Naval Postgraduate School professor Lawrence R. Jones.
Lawrence Jones, better known as Larry, was arrested Thursday in La Mirada after the remains of his ex-wife were found Sept. 7 beside a road in Aromas. Police say they believe she was killed in his Spray Avenue house.
Jones, 69, is being held without bail in Monterey County Jail pending arraignment on a murder charge.
Jail staff are concerned about suicide risks for the suspect, who appeared in court on Wednesday with his right hand and wrist wrapped in bandages.
The day before, he failed to appear in court for a scheduled arraignment because of a "medical issue," said jail Chief Jeff Budd, who declined to give details, citing health privacy laws.
Late Wednesday, Jones was in a holding cell near the jail's booking area as staff tried to find suitable housing for him in the severely overcrowded jail.
Jones has a history of suicide attempts, according to neighbors who say they watched paramedics arrive after he slit his wrists while inside his Monterey residence.
Friends of Janie Jones said she told them her ex-husband tried to cut his wrists before their divorce became final last
The timing of the divorce is a prominent factor as investigators work to figure out exactly how and why Janie Jones ended up in her ex-husband's house, where police believe she was killed.
Monterey officers went to San Jose on Wednesday to search her apartment, which had earlier been searched by San Benito County deputies.
Monterey police Lt. Leslie Sonne announced Wednesday that Janie Jones died of gunshots and that her body was dismembered after she was killed. Police have not disclosed whether they have determined a date or time of death, but friends and relatives say they last heard from Janie Jones in late August or the first days of September.
Officials waited more than a week after the autopsy to provide the public with information about the cause of death.
"We had wanted to give (her family) a little time before releasing the information," Sonne said.
One confusing detail emerging in the case is that Janie Jones allegedly told friends and relatives last month that she had to return to Monterey to sign final papers for her divorce. She made the trip in late August, according to online postings by a relative and interviews with people close to her.
But the man who prepared the couple's divorce filing says there was nothing for her to sign.
Michael Mendenhall, a Monterey legal document assistant, said that after an initial meeting with the couple in his office early this year, the divorce proceeded through the courts. It was an uncontested "default case," Mendenhall said, with no further signatures or appearances required of Janie Jones.
Sonne said detectives have not found any documents showing she was in the city signing paperwork before her death.
Although neighbors and friends have spoken of a volatile, abusive marriage, Mendenhall said the couple appeared polite when he sat down with them in his office.
"When I met with both of them on the morning of February 26, 2012, at my office, they were cordial to each other," Mendenhall said. "He was what could best be described as a perfect gentleman. He wanted to be sure that she was taken care of financially, so he explained to her what he was going to do for her financially."
Records show there was no request for alimony and Mendenhall said he notarized a settlement agreement, adding that the couple "kept it between themselves."
"At all times, he showed respect and concern for her. I'm completely shocked at how she was killed," he said. "That's completely different than what I saw, but then again, I only saw them in my office."
According to court records, the couple married Feb. 21, 2006, and separated Nov. 16, 2011.
In February, Larry Jones filed for divorce. He signed final papers on June 18, Mendenhall said, and the papers were filed with the court on June 20. The final decree was issued Aug. 31.
Larry Jones' expected arraignment on murder charges was postponed Wednesday at the request of attorney Richard Rosen, who said he made a special appearance but was not yet representing him in the case.
Rosen said if he is hired by Jones, he may request a change of venue for the trial.
"It's a possibility, given the level of prejudicial publicity" about the case, he said.
He said he won't see any police reports about the case until he is hired, which may happen before Jones' arraignment, scheduled for Sept. 27.
Rosen did not answer questions about his client's health or conditions in the jail, but said he will likely raise the issue of a bond at some point.
"I want to get a look at the reasons they're holding him without bail," Rosen said.