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Michael Jones previously accused of strangling another girlfriend

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of August 28, 2014)

Just a few months before moving to Vero Beach to take a $100,000 job in the Ocean Drive branch of  PNC Wealth Management in 2013, accused murderer Michael Jones was being investigated by the Fort Lauderdale police for attempting to strangle his former live-in girlfriend, according to case file documents.

The police report of this new victim’s story, obtained by Vero Beach 32963, was among evidence compiled in preparation this week’s grand jury hearing where the 31-year-old Jones was to be indicted for the murder by strangulation of 26-year-old Diana Duve, a Moorings resident and Sebastian River Medical Center nurse.

The new victim, whose name we are withholding, apparently became Jones’ girlfriend in the weeks following his arrest in late 2012 on a charge of aggravated stalking stemming from his threat to kill yet another South Florida girlfriend.  He was subsequently convicted on that charge.

The new victim lived with him for three months before moving out, and her description of her narrow escape is in many ways chillingly reminiscent of what investigators have found out about Jones’ relationship with Duve.

The story told by this 29-year-old female when she walked into the Fort Lauderdale police station with scratch marks and bruises on her neck to file a complaint against Jones was that he had talked her into returning to the apartment “by telling her he was sick.

“Shortly after getting to the apartment, they got into a verbal argument and as she attempted to leave the apartment, Jones grabbed her by the throat, choked her and threw her on the couch. The victim said that at one point, she was unable to breathe as he was choking her and had to fight Jones off in order to catch her breath.

She also told officers she was afraid to leave the apartment because Jones had threatened to kill her or himself if she left. The victim subsequently slipped out of the apartment on a ruse a day later.

The report said the attempted strangulation “was not the first incident that Jones has been physical with her; there have been at least four occasions.”

After signing a victim’s affidavit and indicating she wanted to prosecute, the woman did not respond to phone calls from police investigators, but called back after receiving a letter and made an appointment to come in to give a formal statement.  She never showed up for that appointment.

Police forwarded a probable cause affidavit, along with Jones’ criminal history, reports and photographs of the victim’s injuries to the State Attorney in Broward County. Due to the victim’s unwillingness to cooperate, however, an assistant state attorney decided not to prosecute. “Without sworn testimony, felony charges cannot be filed,” the attorney said.

Fast-forward 16 months to June 23, of this year when Duve was found dead in the trunk of her own car in a Melbourne parking lot, strangled to death, allegedly at the hands of her on-again off-again boyfriend, Jones.