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Buffalo man whose mother was found dead in closet has ties to third death

The number of dead people connected to Charles L. Jones keeps growing.

The death last year of Jones' 10-month-old daughter is receiving renewed scrutiny from Buffalo police and Erie County prosecutors after Jones was charged with killing the girl's mother and police found the body of Jones' mother inside a Jefferson Avenue apartment last week.

So far, Jones faces criminal charges only in the July death of 25-year-old Jacquetta L. Lee, his on-and-off girlfriend who was found dead in her Main Street apartment.

When Buffalo police went to arrest Jones on Friday morning, he engaged officers in a three-hour standoff. Afterward, police found a woman's body inside a closet in the apartment.

Alethia Atwood Williams, Jones' mother who hadn't been seen in weeks, had been dead more than a week.

Royalty Ava Lee-Jones was about a month old in May 2017 when she was rushed to the hospital. Though she had no visible injuries, she suffered brain damage and spent most of the rest of her life in the hospital until she died in February 2018.

The cause of Royalty's death isn't clear. The Erie County Medical Examiner's Office has determined further investigation is needed in order to rule on a cause. Authorities say the investigation into the baby's death was never closed.

On Tuesday, Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo and Kait Munro, a spokeswoman for the Erie County District Attorney's Office, each said the case remains under investigation. Police believe Jones was alone with the infant just before she had to be rushed to the hospital, Rinaldo said.

The relationship between Jones, 24, and Lee, 25, was a troubled one, said Melody Lee, Jacquetta's stepmother.

"We kept telling her to get away from him, he's not a good boy for you," Melody Lee said. "But once the baby died, he said she was going to be with him 'till death do her part."

After Royalty's death, Jones and Lee broke up and said they were remaining merely friends, but they stayed romantically involved on and off, Melody Lee said.

She said she did not like the way Jones treated her stepdaughter. She called him abusive and disrespectful. Her stepdaughter had called police but would decide not to press charges, she said.

"I did not allow him to my house," the stepmother said of Jones.

Jacquetta, a Daemen College graduate, was working at KeyBank at the time of her death.

Melody Lee said she was not aware of any prior police investigation into Royalty's death.

[Related: After standoff ends peacefully, police make a gruesome discovery]

There was one incident, while Jacquetta was pregnant, in which she called her father and stepmother and told them Jones hit her in the face with the railing from a bed, Melody Lee said.

Melody Lee and Jacquetta's father, Curtis, were out of town at the time, and by the time they got back to town, Jacquetta was downplaying the seriousness of what happened, she said.

The last time Melody Lee saw her stepdaughter was July 14, four days before her body was found.

Jacquetta stopped by her father and stepmother's home that Sunday afternoon to pick up some of her clothes. She told them she'd be back later to pick up some more items.

She never came back.

And she didn't respond to text messages or phone calls, Melody Lee said. During the time when no one knew Jacquetta's whereabouts, Jones was driving around in her car, even though he also claimed not to know where the mother of his child was, she said.

On July 18, Jacquetta was found fatally stabbed in her Main Street apartment, the District Attorney's Office has said.

Jacquetta and Jones didn't live together, but Jones had keys to Jacquetta's apartment, where she had lived for only two or three months, according to her stepmother.

About a week after Lee's death, Jones told WGRZ-TV in an interview that he would not sleep until her killer was brought to justice.

"I just want to find the person that did this and make them pay for what they did to her," he told the NBC affiliate.

Charles Jones suffered severe mental and physical abuse as a child, according to his sister, Latia Boykin. Boykin said she also suffered such abuse.

It came at the hands of their mother, she said.

"My mother, she wasn't a saint," said Boykin, adding that she hadn't spoken to her mother in about three years.

Alethia Atwood Williams, 52, died of "sharp object wounds," according to police.

Before her death, no one had seen Atwood Williams in three weeks, according to her daughter.

She said people should also know that her mother was a good person towards many people. "She had a good heart for everyone else," she said.

"She was real cheerful," said David Carswell, who lived in the same building as Atwood Williams. She was known for dressing boldly, wearing bright purple lipstick and a pair of boxing gloves around her neck, Carswell said.

She liked to put on disco lights in her first-floor apartment. Carswell said he thinks the last time he saw her was about a month ago at the Mandela Market and gas station nearby, when the owner held his annual celebration of the market's namesake, Nelson Mandela.

"We were dancing," Carswell said.

Boykin, who said she ran away from home at 17, said she has gone to counseling. She doesn't believe her brother has. She said she let her brother stay with her and her family several years ago, but later kicked him out for stealing from them.

Part of their abuse as children involved being locked in the attic or in a closet, she said. Her mother once chased her brother around the house with a knife when he was 5, she said.

Boykin said she's not excusing any of her brother's alleged actions, but she wonders whether anyone understands how deep the wounds of abuse can run.

"I was there. I was raised in the same environment," she said. "He was a victim, too."

Jones faces a second-degree murder charge and remains held without bail. Kevin W. Spitler and Scott F. Riordan, Jones' assigned defense counsel, declined comment.

News staff reporter Maki Becker contributed to this report.

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