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Kansas to pay $1m over boy, 7, who was murdered and fed to pigs

Adrian Jones was murdered by his father and stepmother in Kansas  (Nine)
Adrian Jones was murdered by his father and stepmother in Kansas (Nine)

Kansas will pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit over a seven-year-old boy who was murdered and fed to pigs.Adrian Jones was living with his father, Michael Jones, and his stepmother, Heather Jones, in Kansas City when he was killed in November 2015.

The lawsuit, filed by the child’s mother and other relatives in 2017, said that the state child welfare agency should have removed him from the abusive home before he was starved, tortured and killed, and his body fed to pigs.

Police found the child’s remains in a pigsty on his father and stepmother’s rental property after responding to a domestic violence call from Mrs Jones, who accused her husband of beating and choking her, according to affidavits and search warrants.

Authorities also found surveillance footage that showed the child had been beaten and locked naked in a shower stall for months before his death.

He had also been subject to other forms of torture including being strapped to an inversion table, and being handcuffed and shocked with a device called a Zap Enforcer. Court records added that the child also suffered from “extreme starvation”.

Michael Jones was sentenced to life in prison for torturing and killing his son (AP)
Michael Jones was sentenced to life in prison for torturing and killing his son (AP)
Heather Jones will spend 25 years to life in prison for the torture and murder of her stepson (AP)
Heather Jones will spend 25 years to life in prison for the torture and murder of her stepson (AP)

Michael and Heather Jones were sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison for the child’s murder in 2016.

Following the trial, the boy’s mother, maternal grandmother and adult sister filed a lawsuit in Wyandotte County, Kansas.

The suit said that the state and social workers could have “stepped in and rescued” Adrian “at any point during the child’s lengthy, unimaginable ordeal but chose to act like disinterested bystanders”.

Records released in 2017 by the Kansas Department for Children and Families showed the agency received reports that Adrian was being abused several years before his death. However its last physical contact with him was almost four years before his remains were found.

Records also showed that Adrian, his father and stepmother moved frequently between places in Kansas and Missouri. The Kansas agency argued that this made it difficult to keep tabs on the boy.

The lawsuit was settled this week with Governor Laura Kelly and leaders of the Kansas Legislature approving the $1m settlement after meeting with state attorney general Kris Kobach’s office.

“This has been a long journey for Adrian’s family,” said Matt Birch, their attorney. “The most important thing for the family was to hopefully make a change and make this less likely to happen in the future.”

Kansas Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, one of the lawmakers who approved the settlement, said on Wednesday that she believes the state faced “a lot of liability” legally for what happened.

She added that the case was settled to enable legislators to focus on “the mission at hand” of improving the child welfare system.

“It really had to do with wanting to get that settled and not spend time litigating in courts for what could be definitely months, maybe even years,” she said.

The seven-year-old’s death has already resulted in legislative change with the state attempting to improve doctors’ training to recognize abuse and provide “wrap-around” services for troubled families.

In 2021, “Adrian’s Law” created a joint committee on child welfare oversight and required officers and caseworkers to visually observe children who are alleged victims of abuse or neglect.

However, the head of that committee saw the settlement as less of a breakthrough. “I am a little bit surprised that it’s not more than that,” GOP Rep. Susan Concannon said.

Mr Birch said that he and the family hoped that following the lawsuit and 2021 law “there will be more eyes on these kids”.