• 66°

Local family asking for public’s help in locating missing man

This story has been updated to include additional information from the Picayune Police Department.

Picayune resident Willie Ray Jones has been missing since Monday, July 6, at approximately 3 a.m. and his family is looking for answers.

Jones is a 28-year-old black man who stands 5’7, and is about 216 pounds, with brown eyes and short black hair. He usually wears two diamond earrings and a diamond ring on his pinky finger.

According to a Facebook post by the Picayune Police Department, Jones was last seen in the Ponderosa area of Picayune wearing a black shirt and gray and white shorts. Anyone with any information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the Picayune Police Department at 601-798-7411, CID Commander, Capt. Rhonda Johnson at 601-337-6544, or Assistant CID Commander, Lt. Mike Deceille at 601-916-9411, the post states. Anyone who wants to give information and remain anonymous may also call the Pearl River County Crime Stopper’s Hotline at 601-799-CLUE.

The family asks members of the public to do whatever they can to help locate Jones, said his cousin Ambreia Jones. He is the father to five children younger than 5.

“He was a good person and we just want to have him back,” she said.

The family has been putting a search party together to look for Jones, but do not know where to begin their search, said Ambreia Jones.

“We can’t find him, and the police aren’t giving us any leads on where his phone was going to so we can start a search party,” said Jones.

Ambreia Jones said that the family wants more information from the police department about where to search for Jones. Ambreia is convinced that Jones is no longer alive.

“I just want to know where the body is,” she said. “We don’t have nowhere to go look at. They’re just throwing us around in a circle and not giving us some directness. This is not normal at all.”

Capt. Rhonda Johnson said the department is conducting numerous canvases daily and has gathered enough evidence for a search warrant related to the case.

“Every detective has worked no other case but this one since it was reported. We’ve given 110 percent to this case,” said Johnson.

Johnson said the department cannot give out information about where to search in fear of searchers contaminating a possible crime scene. At this time Jones is listed on NCIC as a missing person, she said. The department is asking for public assistance if they hear or see anything related to the disappearance of Jones, Johnson said.

Ambreia Jones said Willie Ray Jones left his home in a car with Dustin Gray around 3 a.m., July 6, and never returned home.

She said that Gray had previously installed a Ring camera on her door and alleges that the same night he was seen tampering with that camera. The footage of the night Jones disappeared has been deleted, said Jones. She called the Ring company and learned that anyone with access to the home’s Internet would have been able to get into the account.

On Thursday Gray deleted his social media accounts and the family is no longer able to contact him, said Jones.

The car that Willie Ray Jones left home in has since been towed by the police as part of the investigation, said Jones. She alleges that Gray took the car to a car wash, but the car wash refused to wash it because the car “looked like a crime scene,” with blood in the back seat.

“We’re lost and we don’t know who to trust and who we need to reach out to,” said Jones.

On Sunday the Picayune Police Department posted on Facebook asking for assistance in locating Dustin and Erica Gray. The post describes Dustin Gray as a white man who is 5’9 and weighs about 150 lbs. The Facebook post describes Erica Gray as a white woman who stands 5’2 and weighs about 118 lbs. The post states that both Dustin and Erica Gray have outstanding felony warrants for possession of a stolen firearm. The pair are also persons of interest in the disappearance of Jones, according to a statement from Assistant Chief Dustin Moeller.

On Sunday Moeller issued a press release about Jones’ disappearance. The release states that the department’s Criminal Investigation Division has worked around the clock to investigate every possible lead since Jones was reported missing and executed multiple search warrants.

“We have canvassed multiple areas within the City of Picayune, Pearl River and Hancock Counties, and any other area known to be frequented by Jones. Multiple divisions within the Picayune Police Department have assisted and are continuing to assist the Criminal Investigations Division in this case, as well as Pearl River and Hancock County Sheriff’s Offices, Hattiesburg Police Department, MS Bureau of Investigations, Homeland Security, L.A.S.A.R (Louisiana Search and Rescue), and countless volunteers,” states the release.
According to the release, the department has also obtained multiple items of evidence, sent them for testing and is awaiting results of those tests.
“While the phone records and social media accounts of the victim and any and all persons of interest have been requested, we have and will continue to investigate this case fully and follow every possible lead. The family deserves answers and we are working to provide them,” the release states.