Sergeant Mark Jones’ path to a career at the Fauquier Criminal Investigations Division
Fauquier County Detective Mark Jones doesn’t like loose ends. He believes, “at the end of the work day, you should make sure your desk is neat and organized. You never know what is going to happen before you return.” Having spent his career working in law enforcement and over a decade in the Fauquier Criminal Investigations Division (CID), he is aware how quickly things can change.
A Fauquier native and 1990 graduate of Fauquier High School, Mark and his twin brother, Mike, grew up in Vint Hill’s Broken Hills community. It was a time when Fauquier County had more farmland and was considered more wholesome. He reminisces about running through neighboring farms and finding constructive things to do with friends. With the changing times, the way people socialize is also changing. Rather than interact physically or verbally, today “it’s usually just a quick text. This change in communication is changing the dynamics of every community,” he says.
After high school graduation, the twins attended Clinch Valley College, now the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. After the first semester, Jones returned to Fauquier County. “I knew in my heart that Mike and I needed to spend some time apart,” says Jones. He completed a co-op program in Vint Hill while his brother remained at Wise to finish his degree.
The Joneses’ father worked as a civilian in the Signal Warfare Laboratory at the Vint Hill Farms Station military base, and their mother was a Prince William County school teacher. Influenced by the public service example set at home, the boys followed the call to serve: Mark as a detective and Mike as a special agent with Virginia State Police.
It was Mark Jones’ participation in the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Explorer Program that was the hook that caught him. Joe Higgs, who was sheriff at the time, launched the Law Enforcement Explorer Program and opened it to youths as young as fourteen. The program is designed to help groom future law enforcement professionals, and Sheriff Mosier continues it to this day. Jones graduated from the program in 1993 and immediately began working for the sheriff’s office in the detention center. From there he went on patrol for seven years and began gaining valuable experience that he uses daily in his role in the CID.
After patrolling, Jones interacted with students as a school resource officer before returning to patrol, and finally moved into the CID. By this time, he had twelve years of experience. “You need to live the other experiences before coming here; fill your toolbox with tools,” he says of his previous experiences which prepared him for his demanding CID role. In CID, Jones is the Sergeant for the financial, property, and violent crimes cases. “When a murder case is reported to the division, it is all-hands-on-deck. Everyone knows their role and we attack a case with a systematic and methodical approach.”
He continues, “Every day I pray that I am up to the task that will be before me. Nothing good comes through those doors. It is either tragedy or bad circumstances that have brought people to us. We can’t save the world or protect people from themselves, but we acknowledge that bad people are out there.” At the end of the day, Jones hopes to have more answers than questions and ultimately obtain closure for all the parties involved in crimes under investigation.
Jones recalls a case where skeletal remains were discovered behind a cattle run-in on a Midland farm. After detectives worked in the field for a full day in a late winter storm, the evidence was collected and brought to the medical examiner (ME), one of only four in the state. “In this case, the ME brought in experts from the Smithsonian to help analyze the remains,” he says. The ME declared the victim’s death a suicide. His family thought he had run away from his problems,” he says about the information uncovered for the family and the closure it offered.
Jones has been involved with many cases over the years, but his “a-ha” moment came in late 2014 when a 30-year-old homicide case was finally solved. “We just didn’t have all the tools in 1980,” says Jones. While he credits the advancement of technology with helping to solve this homicide, more important was the dedication of the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office partnership who prosecuted the case. After decades of continued effort and the determination of many detectives, Jones and Fauquier County Detective Cory Ashby had the co-conspirator offer a first-time-ever account of what had happened the night of the murder.
“So much changes over time, people forget, people die, in this case the house no longer stands. We were going off old statements and photos, and finally, we were able to see the case seriously develop. People also get older and don’t want to take information like this to their graves.” Jones is deliberate to clarify that an unsolved case is always an open case. “Every detective in the department is assigned one unsolved homicide case that is reviewed during case briefings. There are no cold cases.” The nine detectives who work with Jones each work roughly 10-20 cases at any given time.
Jones is acutely aware of the passage of time and how that time can be cut short abruptly. In his line of work he has interacted with families whose loved ones have left them too soon, and under unfortunate circumstances. While Jones is a dedicated Sergeant, he is also a dedicated family man. When asked what he does when he is not at work, what his hobbies are, he responds, “My son is my hobby.” With a daughter soon to graduate from college and marry shortly thereafter, Jones is aware that one chapter of his life is ending. “Rebecca [his wife] and I will soon be empty nesters. I am looking forward to seeing where that takes us, but in the meantime, I spend a lot time with my son.” Jones and his son visit a family home in Rappahannock County most weekends. The weekend home sits on over 130 acres where the family connects with each other and nature.
The option to work in Washington, DC was offered early in his career, but Jones decided to stay in the community that helped to raise him with the intention of preserving its unique and charming qualities, and ensuring its safety for every resident that calls it home.
For more information about the Law Enforcement Explorers, visit the Fauquier County Government site at: http://www.fauquiercounty.gov
The Sheriff’s Office is always recruiting. If you have an interest in law enforcement, visit the human resources tab of the Fauquier County Government website.