Sister Finds Her Missing Brother's Body While She and Her Mom Searched for Him

Malik Jones went missing from Missouri in January, and a 15-year-old has been arrested in connection with his death

<p>Courtesy Neeka Smith</p> Malik Jones

Courtesy Neeka Smith

Malik Jones

Neeka Smith liked to refer to her brother, Malik Jones, 25, as a “gentle giant.” Standing at 6 feet 3 inches tall, her family-oriented baby brother seemed larger than life. But when he went missing from Missouri on Jan. 30, she knew something was wrong.

Smith says she believed there was foul play involved in her brother's disappearance from the beginning because Jones, who was planning to move to California to pursue a music producing degree, had no reason to vanish. It was also unlike him to not contact his family for more than a day — or to miss a Lakers game.

For more than a week, Smith and her mother, Shawna Patterson, searched for him from morning until night. Then, Smith made an unimaginable discovery. On Feb. 7, while driving near Columbia, Mo., with Patterson, Smith spotted something on the side of the road in the woods.

“I told her to stop,” Smith tells PEOPLE. “I hopped out of the car and walked to where I saw something. She was backing up, and I yelled her name. I knew it was my brother. I know the shape of my brother. I know … I know him from head to toe.”

<p>Courtesy Neeka Smith</p> From left, Malik Jones, his sister Neeka Smith, his mother Shawna Patterson and his brother JaQuan McDonald

Courtesy Neeka Smith

From left, Malik Jones, his sister Neeka Smith, his mother Shawna Patterson and his brother JaQuan McDonald

Smith called 911 to alert authorities that she found her brother’s body after days of searching. “I just immediately broke down, started screaming for my mom,” she says.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Jones’ death is being investigated as a homicide, and on March 1, a 15-year-old suspect was taken into custody in connection with the case. The suspect has not been named due to their age, and the charges they are facing have not been made public.

“It's hard to believe that a 15-year-old could do something like that,” Smith says, adding that she does not believe the teen acted alone.

“Given Malik's size, a little 15-year-old is not going to be able to do anything with Malik by himself,” Smith says.

<p>Malik Jones/Facebook</p> Malik Jones

Malik Jones/Facebook

Malik Jones

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Jones’ cause of death has not been released, but his family is asking anyone who may have information to come forward.

“They took away a very big piece of this family, and that hurts a lot,” Smith says. “I’m hurt, I'm angry, but I do want everybody who was involved to be caught. And we are not going to stop until everyone has been caught — just like we didn't stop looking for him until we found him.”

Smith says that although her and her family are still dealing with the immense grief that came with Jones’ death, she will remember her little brother how he always was: Devoutly religious, gentle and with a smile on his face.

Anyone with information about Jones’ death is asked to contact the Boone County Sheriff's Office at 573-442-6131. To leave an anonymous tip, call CrimeStoppers at 573-875-TIPS. 

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