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Twas The Murder Before Christmas
A cruel, cruel death
It doesn't matter how long a person has been in law enforcement, there are still cases that come along that will render even the toughest cop shocked and shaken. The murder of 12 year old Jonathan Foster is one of these cases. This is a case that will get under anyone's skin, nationwide.
Part of me wishes I was the Detective in this case only because I would have loved to have arrested and put away the monster who so cruelly murdered this child on Christmas Eve in Houston, Texas and dumped his charred remains in a ditch as easily as she would have tossed a McDonald's bag of trash. The other part of me is damned glad that I didn't have to see the horrific scene Houston Police Department Homicide Detective Michael Miller had to endure.
And so it begins:
On December 24th, 2010, around two o'clock in the afternoon, the suspect, Mona Yvette Nelson allegedly went to Jonathan's apartment to look for her friend, the child's mother's roommate and babysitter. Jonathan was alone. His mother was at work when she knocked on his door of the apartment. A series of strange events then commenced that would evolve into this holiday tragedy.
Jonathan answered the door and politely let the woman in. He'd called his mother at work to ask for their roommate/babysitters cell phone number but the mother was unable to come to the phone at the time. Then, a "raspy" voiced woman allegedly called the mother at work shortly thereafter.
It starts to get a little strange here. The woman allegedly made threats against Jonathan to his mother, Angela Davis, and said she should come home and that it was an emergency. Supposedly, the woman asked Jonathan while on the phone if Angela Davis was his mother's name and Jonathan answered respectfully, "Yes Ma'am, Angela Davis is my mother's name." (The police have not released anymore details of the conversation so obviously, there are still many questions concerning the dialogue. Hopefully, more will be revealed in due time.)
Angela Davis, as any mother would, rushed home from her job, continuing to call her apartment until she arrived to find Jonathan and the "raspy" voiced woman no where to be found.
One would think that an immediate Amber Alert would go out but that did not happen until 9:30 that evening. Houston Police had to write the report and they had to be sure the child was not a runaway or simply off playing at a friends house before the criteria could be met for the Amber Alert to go out. Unfortunately, one of the reasons it took so long is that the mother herself hindered the investigation in it's earliest stages by lying to the police, claiming that Jonathan had been with a babysitter and wasn't home alone. She later admitted to the lie stating that she was embarrassed that she'd left her 12 year old son at home alone.
It turns out that Jonathan's mother has in the past been investigated by Child Protective Services on more than one occasion for supervisory neglect, medical neglect and abuse and that the child has been off and on living with relatives and had only just shortly returned to his mother's care.
Angela Davis has had some problems in the past with drug abuse and other issues so it's not surprising that she would lie to the authorities to save her own neck when her son went missing. I don't buy the "I was embarrassed" story for one second. It was basically her fear of being raked over the coals for being a neglectful mother or she feared prosecution for neglect. All she accomplished with this was to cause suspicion to fall upon her which might have been minimal had she been truthful with the police. At any rate it sent the investigation in a useless direction.
Back on course: Amber Alert Issued:
So, now the Amber Alert is issued and police are working hard to find the child, interviewing anyone and everyone who had a relationship with Jonathan and/or his family.
Being as Ms. Davis was estranged from her husband, David Davis, Jonathan's stepfather, he was of course interviewed at police headquarters and his vehicle towed for a forensic search. Mr. Davis lived close by but denied any knowledge of the child's whereabouts. Police have no evidence to make an arrest so he is freed, along with Angela Davis but of course they are not yet in the clear.
Jonathan's friends and Grandmother are interviewed but this turns up nothing but some vague theory or rumor that Jonathan had left the apartment to borrow a video game from a friend which ended up quickly fizzling out as a possibility.
Search parties were formed, prayer vigils commenced yet still the sweet faced, ginger haired boy remained missing. The mother behaves in ways that draws assumptions that she either knows something or is involved. She answers the media's questions in rambling words and her behavior is odd. By that I mean, what mother, no matter how embarrassed or scared she is of having the dirty end of the stick pointed at her for leaving the child alone, is going to lie to the police for any reason when her child is missing and foul play is suspected? It's common sense to even the daftest of people that a lie can swing an investigation in the wrong direction and precious time and investigative skills are wasted when they could have been used to find the child. Obviously we can allow for some strange behavior on any parents part when their child is missing but this woman and some of her answers are just off the wall and all over the place.
Some good Detective work and video footage:
It's Christmas Eve when the child goes missing, then Christmas day, and then the next day. Monday passes and finally on Tuesday, 28th December, a break in the case. A big break.
Detectives are alerted that a burned body has been found in a ditch about three miles away from Jonathan's home.
It's said the body is small, about three feet tall, possibly a child. The body is burned beyond recognition at this point. Some argue it's not Jonathan because he was taller than that but one must remember that when a body is burned, the muscles draw up and I don't care if you're Wilt Chamberlain, you're going to look like Danny DeVito if your body is burned like this body was.
Sadly, the charred remains would prove indeed to be that of Jonathan Foster. His small hands bound with twine and his features unrecognizable. I can tell you that in all probability, there was not a dry eye on that scene. Even a seasoned police officer would not be immune to the raw emotion of the moment upon the recovery of the body and the confirmation that it is without a doubt that sweet little boy that the whole neighborhood reportedly loved.
Not only is there sadness but anger is in the mix now. The people of Houston have taken little Jonathan as their own and we are all on the edge of our seats, dabbing away at the tears and suppressing the urge to put a fist through the wall.
The Detectives are scouring for clues in the area and talking to anyone and everyone who lives or works in the area. Did you see anything? Did you notice any vehicles on the side of the road? Are there any video cameras in the area?
Thankfully, their persistence pays off and it pays off well. A nearby business in close proximity to the location where the child's remains were found has surveillance cameras on the property and there is a section of that footage that is more precious than gold.This footage will secure an arrest in the case very soon and Detectives act quickly.
Around 6 o'clock in the evening of Christmas Eve, a pick up truck with a toolbox across the back is seen pulling off on the side of the road. A large, stocky woman exits the vehicle and goes to the bed of the truck and she lifts up the burned, lifeless body of Jonathan Foster and places it in the ditch. Bingo! Time for her to kiss her freedom goodbye. Within hours the police will make an arrest and she'll be booked into the Harris County Jail charged with Capitol Murder. Get ready for that needle, Honey and think about your $20 last meal your going to have before you meet your maker!
Mona Yvette Nelson:
44 years old with five grandchildren, Mona insists she would never hurt a child. She's a grandma after all! Of course, she's a candidate for Sainthood because we all know grandma's don't kill children and according to Mona, she loves kids. Well, okay, Mona, we'll just let you go then seeing as you're such a fine upstanding citizen who has been arrested ten times since 1986 for various felonies and other offenses. Uh huh, yeah, right!
Mona is no stranger to prison scrubs. She's done a bit of time for burglary, criminal mischief, assault and terroristic threats, some which were made to her own family. Her daughter had been seen in the past with Raccoon eyes and other bruises inflicted by this mother extraordinaire who loves children so much and would never hurt them.
The very large, somewhat androgynous looking, stocky woman is a maintenance worker at an apartment complex across the street from Jonathan's home and a former boxer. She's indeed a strong, capable woman. I know men that wouldn't want to tussle with this lady! She done some prison time and likely has no problem defending herself or being the aggressor in any given situation. She's also a welder as well.
She also happens to be a "friend" of the family. She definitely knows David Davis and Angela Davis has been vague about her relationship with Mona but does attest to the fact that Mona is a friend of Angela's roommate/babysitter. Rumor has it that Mona went to Jonathan's home that day looking for her friend, who wasn't home, of course.
There is quite a lot of speculation as to how well known an acquaintance she actually is to the family and theories run rampant as to the reason Mona went to the apartment, including one that has Angela Davis in debt to Mona for some drugs and that Mona took her anger at not having been paid out on little Jonathan. Thus far, nothing concrete has come of it. What we do know is that she was identified as the one who dumped the body in the ditch.
Under questioning, Mona reveals that she indeed was the one to dump Jonathan's body in the ditch but she only did it she claims because Jonathan's estranged stepfather, David Davis, offered her $20.00 to dump a plastic container in which the contents were not revealed to her. She says she took on the tasks for the money and because she was drunk on Vodka. (Hmmm, that's interesting being as that when Mona dumped the body, there was no plastic container anywhere to be found and she could not produce one for the police.) The video footage shows her lifting the body out of the bed of the truck straight away and dumping it so Mona's story isn't jibing. She does not admit to the murder though. Remember, she's a grandma!
Houston Police Detectives are not buying Mona's story though. They dig some more. They obtain consent to search Mona's home and vehicle. She's got nothing to hide, right? Wrong!
Upon the search of the house, the Detectives find a "boat load" of evidence within Mona's residence including large burn marks on the carpet and a welding torch. Of course Mona being a welder, she has her tools of the trade readily available. Detectives can also smell the scent of a burned body in the carpet where the burn marks are. Believe me, if you've ever smelled a burned body, there is no mistaking the odor. You know instantly what you're smelling. I'm sure there is much more evidence but that is being kept under wraps for the integrity of the case against her. Sorry folks, but sometimes the police have to keep secrets from the public that can only be revealed in court. Especially for the sake of a confession as well if one is obtained. Things only the killer would know which add up to some rather strong nails in the killer's coffin.
Mona is charged and booked and awaits a visit from community activist Quannell X, which is par for the course in such media charged events involving African Americans. More power to him cause in a case such as this, I doubt the public is going to be on Mona's side in any way, shape or form. No one can stomach a child murderer and the public will not likely be supportive when evidence such as this is present in this case.
Information is slowly trickling out and running it's media course. Houston Police are looking at other missing children's cases that might be linked to Mona. It is suspected that possibly Mona is not only a child killer, but a child predator sex offender as well. Speculation is leaning toward the idea that Mona sexually abused Jonathan and killed him to silence him. And she did it in the cruelest way possible.
According to the autopsy report, there is no soot in Jonathan's lungs so it was suspected that he was dead by the time Mona took the blow torch to him. But...welding torches would not likely have produced enough soot or perhaps any at all so why would it be present in the lungs anyway? It is later revealed that the child might have been alive after all when she took the blow torch to him. What an agonizingly painful death that must have been for that poor baby. Jonathan is also known to have had his hands tied with twine that was of the same type found in Mona's apartment. It was the worst news imaginable. All of Houston prayed that this child was dead before his body was burned.
Detective Michael Miller who questioned Mona reveals that Mona is a remorseless, cold blooded killer. He says he's only seen such dead, cold eyes in one other person in all of his years as a cop in a serial killer. While Quannell X claims she feels remorseful for the part she played (sticking to her story about just being the one who dumped the body and not involved in the murder) in this tragedy, Detective Miller sees nothing before him but a soulless killer who took a young boy's life on a day when he should have been counting the hours till bedtime and anxiously waiting one more sleep before Christmas comes.
So now we wait. Mona is being held without bail and we, the public are all pretty much ready to light some torches, bust her out of jail and hang her from the highest tree we can find. But, it's 2011, not 1887, and public lynchings are frowned upon, especially before the defendant's even been tried in a court of law. Well, we shall see, wont we?
I will be updating this hub as the information comes in so stay tuned folks. This is going to be a very interesting case. But mainly I am following it because it's a case in which a child was brutally assaulted and murdered and I want to see his killer brought to justice. We've all sort of adopted Jonathan and this has touched and affected so many of us so deeply. I pray for his family for strength. They're going to really need it through out the rest of this ordeal.
Jonathan's funeral is to be held Tuesday morning at the Garden Oaks Baptist Church on N. Shepherd Drive in Houston. Visitation starts at 10 am and the service will be at 1:30 pm. The family has made it a public funeral so if you want to pay your respects, feel free to do so. I imagine they could use the support.