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Accused slayer had made ugly threats to previous girlfriend

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of July 3, 2014)
Photo of Michael Jones

As prosecutors work to nail down their case against defendant Michael Jones for the murder of barrier island nurse Diana Duve, the investigation has shifted from analyzing crime scene evidence and establishing a timeline to digging into Jones’ background and the events leading up to Duve’s death.

The warrant affidavit, the long-form narrative which details the probable cause for Jones’ arrest on first-degree murder, has been sealed by an order of Judge Robert Pegg because premature release of details might harm an active criminal investigation.

“No, it’s not necessarily common, but it’s certainly appropriate based upon the circumstances of this case,” said Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl. “There was concern that the early release of that affidavit could affect the investigation.”

Bakkedahl characterized the investigation as being “still in the very early stages” as detectives continue to interview witnesses.

He explained there are details in the affidavit that could only be known by people who saw or heard things. If all those details were put in the public realm now, it would be a lot tougher to determine the credibility of witnesses.

On Friday, Jones filed an application for criminal indigent status so he could be represented by a public defender.

The next steps in the case would be for Jones’ defense attorney to file a Notice of Appearance telling Judge Pegg that he or she is on the case, and then typically for the defense to file a Demand for Discovery.

After that, the state has 15 days to produce documents regarding the evidence they’ve collected against Jones. At that time, Bakkedahl said, the warrant affidavit would be available to the media, and to the public.

Part of the state’s case seems to hinge on establishing a pattern of controlling or threatening behavior toward Duve.

Police Chief David Currey last week in a press conference said officers had been called to Jones’ apartment on April 30 by neighbors in response to a verbal disturbance. Jones came to the door and told police the noise was from “rough sex” and Duve told police everything was fine and that she was leaving.

Currey said friends interviewed by investigators said Duve later told them police “probably saved her” that night because Jones had tried to strangle her.

Another part of Jones’ past police will be examining is his previous arrest in Broward County for aggravated stalking with a weapon

Jones was arrested on Oct. 3, 2012 on one count of aggravated stalking for threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend on her birthday.

The young woman, then a co-worker of Jones at Wells Fargo on Las Olas Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale, had broken off her relationship with Jones after five months due to his controlling behavior, according to a complaint filed with police in Davie, Florida.

The complaint states “he was very controlling – he demanded she not wear heels to show off her legs and demanded that she text her friends and say that she would never speak to them again.

He yelled at her all the time and shoved her when they argued or sometimes he would punch objects near her to scare her. The more she complied (such as not wearing heels), the more he demanded and yelled at her.”

She would break things off, then reconcile after Jones would threaten to kill himself. That’s apparently what happened on Sept. 27, 2012. It was Thursday and the woman told Jones she had plans with friends that weekend. According to the complaint, Jones constantly called and texted her, trying to find out where she was, who she was with and what she was doing.

“Throughout the entire weekend, he called her several times a day and yelled at her for not staying with him. She took a two-hour nap and during the nap the defendant sent her 15-20 messages stating: ‘Pick up,’ ‘Pick up,’ ‘Pick up the phone.’ “I’m gonna flip out, pick up the phone.’ And one saying, ‘It’s obvious you’re (expletive)ing another guy.”

She broke up with Jones again on Oct. 2 because “she could not take any more of the mental abuse and intimidation.”

In the hours immediately following the breakup, Jones had an apparent meltdown over plans she had made to go out with friends to celebrate her approaching birthday.

“He demanded that she change her Facebook status to ‘In a relationship with Michael Jones’ and said if she did not comply, he would kill himself. He kept texting, ‘You will see what’s coming, something bad is going to happen’.”

The woman called Jones to find out what he meant by his text and he said, according to the report, “I hope your friends enjoy your Happy Hour tomorrow because there will be a big surprise. Once you step out your door, there will be a bullet in your head.”

He called back about 10 minutes later and said, “I’m in the car now. I have my bag and my gun. As soon as you step outside, there will be a bullet in your head. I have nothing to lose. I will kill you and I will kill myself.”

That caused the woman to dial 911, on her birthday. She told police she didn’t know whether or not Jones had a gun but that he knew how to shoot. Police did not find Jones in the parking lot of her apartment complex, but the woman “went to a safe place where the defendant could not locate her.”

Police took evidence and photos of the text messages and phone calls, and the woman was issued a restraining order by the court to protect her against Jones.

As the Broward County case was about to come to trial, Jones took a plea deal and was sentenced to five years’ probation, which he had transferred to Indian River County because he had been hired by PNC Wealth Management.

When Vero Beach 32963 reached the victim by telephone on Monday, she was aware that Jones had been charged with murder in Vero, but would not talk about him or the case, even on the condition of anonymity. “I have no comment, thank you very much,” she said.

Jones is set to be arraigned on the first-degree murder charge on Aug. 4. Prosecutors have not decided yet whether or not to seek the death penalty in the Duve murder case.