Naval Postgraduate School professor accused of killing ex-wife

Norife Jones

Police expect to recommend a homicide charge Tuesday against a renowned professor from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey who is suspected of killing his 29-year-old ex-wife and dumping her body off a rural road near Aromas.

Lawrence R. Jones, 69, faces arraignment in Monterey County this week for killing Norife Herrera Jones, a Filipino woman from San Jose who recently divorced the Jones after five years of marriage.

Jones is suspected of killing his ex-wife at his Monterey home, in the 100 block of Spray Avenue – a residence neighboring the university where he worked – and dumping her body in a wooded area off Cannon Road in San Benito County, according to authorities. The area where hikers found her body Sept. 7 is about a 30-minute drive from the suspect’s residence.  

The San Benito County Sheriff’s Office and Monterey Police Department declined to say where investigators believe Jones killed his ex-wife within the home or how he committed the crime.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Lamonica did, however, confirm that investigators believe Jones used some sort of weapon or weapons in the homicide. He stopped short of confirming further details, though.

“We believe there were probably some weapons involved but we’re not going to disclose what we think it is,” he said.

Lamonica on Monday said the sheriff’s office had yet to officially confirm the cause of death, so he declined to release how investigators believe the crime unfolded.

The Monterey Police Department released a statement Friday noting that the agency is conducting a joint investigation with the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office. The local sheriff’s office requested help from Monterey police after learning the victim recently lived with her ex-husband.

After an autopsy pointed to foul play and a search of Lawrence Jones’ home, evidence found at the scene “led to the Monterey Police Department assuming jurisdiction of the homicide investigation,” according to a statement from the cooperating police agencies.

According to the statement, detectives worked “through the night” and located Lawrence Jones in Southern California. His transport to Monterey is pending, according to police.

The FBI is assisting with the forensic investigation, while Monterey police stressed it has been a multi-jurisdictional effort from the start also involving the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and San Jose Police Department.

Monterey police spokeswoman Leslie Sonne also declined to discuss details from the crime scene – because investigators had yet to review the autopsy report.

“Right now, we’re not planning on releasing that information,” she said.

Sonne said Monterey detectives were “playing catch-up” with the work already conducted by the San Benito sheriff’s investigators. After recommending the homicide charge Tuesday, the department has a “laundry list” of follow-up work, including examination of the suspect’s and victim’s backgrounds, she said.

Part of that background work is likely to include review of Jones’ 25-year history at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. He worked his way up from a professor job in 1987 to being a distinguished professor and an “area chair” for financial management, according to his biography information posted on the NPS website.

Jones, whose academic research has focused on public sector finance and management, has written more than 100 journal articles and book chapters on related topics and has published 14 books, according to staff information for the Asia Pacific Governance Institute, one of a handful of institutions where Jones has current affiliations.

The Naval Postgraduate School had no official comment on the arrest and its spokeswoman deferred questions to authorities.

As for the victim, her brother in an email indicated that all of her family members live in the Philippines. He said he had been in contact with the Monterey Police Department but did not respond to questions about his sister.

  • The suspect, Jones, has been professor at the Naval Postgraduate School for 25 years.
  • Jones has published 14 books about his area of expertise.
  • Jones has a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford.
  • Jones was married to the victim for five years; they divorced recently.
  • Police suspect Jones killed Herrera Jones at his home, that’s located blocks away from NPS, and dumped her body near Aromas.
  • Police arrested Jones on Friday in Southern California.

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