May 3, 2017
A 41 Action News investigation into who failed Adrian Jones reveals another adult lived in the Joneses’ home during the course of the 7-year-old’s abuse.
Read Part 1 of the series: Surveillance footage captures last days of tortured KCK boy’s life
Read Part 2 of the series: Grandmother of tortured KCK boy wants records unsealed, seeks truth about his death
Adrian was tortured, starved and held captive by his father and stepmother, Michael and Heather Jones, for at least nine months. He died while strapped to a chair in the shower where his parents had imprisoned him. Both have pleaded guilty to murder.
Never-before-seen surveillance video from inside the home shows a very thin and naked Adrian in the kitchen, getting what appears to be a bowl of water.
The video shows Adrian cowering behind a cabinet and slowly lowering himself to the ground as he notices another person entering the room. As the person passes by, Adrian can be seen carrying the bowl as he sneaks out of the room.
Adrian’s grandmother, Judy Conway, identified that person as Adrian’s great uncle.
“You see Willie Flowers walk by,” she said.
Jennifer Hoevers, the Joneses’ landlord, said she remembers having conversations with the couple about Flowers.
“I knew he was living there. Heather had told me multiple times that he was living with them,” she said.
The landlord described the video.
“It looked like Adrian had snuck out of the shower and was going to get a bowl of water, and the uncle walked in and Adrian hid and then ran out behind him,” Hoevers said.
Hoevers found the footage after Heather was arrested.
Hoevers said Heather asked her to log into her iCloud account to save pictures of her kids. When Hoevers logged in, she found the images of Adrian’s abuse and turned them over to police.
When the landlord went to the home after Adrian died, Flowers’s belongings were still there, she said.
“He had a mattress on the floor. He had bags of clothes, boxes of his mail and stuff from high school,” Hoevers said.
The 41 Action News Investigators took the information to the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department.
The department said they looked into Flowers after Adrian’s death, but didn’t have enough evidence to charge him.
John Picerno, a criminal defense attorney, said it’s not a crime to live in a home while a child is being abused or even tortured and killed.
“It is obviously ethically and morally a violation of being a good human being,” Picerno said. “Unfortunately, legally, it doesn’t impose any liability on somebody.”
Still, the 41 Action News Investigators wanted to know how much Flowers knew. And if he did know what was happening to Adrian, why he didn’t do anything to stop it?
The 41 Action News Investigators tracked Flowers down but he wouldn’t answer any questions.
The landlord for the Joneses said she also remembered conversations with Adrian’s stepmom, Heather, who told her Adrian and his six sisters were often left in Flowers’s care.
“I know she mentioned that he would watch the kids for them when they would have to work overnight or go a long ways away,” Hoevers said.
If true, Picerno said, that changes things.
“If he was entrusted with the care and custody of a minor child and any of those things took place when he was the one that was responsible then, yes, he can be charged with a crime,” Picerno said.
The 41 Action News Investigators contacted the KCK Police Department several times to ask about the landlord’s claim that Flowers babysat the Jones kids. But the department did not respond to those questions.
Conway said she wants her grandson’s tragic death to bring change to a system she says is broken -- one that is designed to protect children, but that failed Adrian.
On Thursday, 41 Action News Investigators are going to Topeka, Kansas to talk to lawmakers at the state capitol about Adrian’s case, and what can be done to strengthen protections for abused children.
Editor’s Note: On May 5, Kansas Rep. Louis Ruiz introduced Adrian’s Act in response to the 41 Action News investigation that shed light on who’s required to report child abuse. If passed, Adrian’s Act would require adults living in a home where a child is being abused to report it to authorities.