01-03-2011, 08:13:25 PM
Texas Police Believe Child Was Killed with Welding Torch
Homicide investigators said a welding torch is the likely weapon used in 12-year-old Jonathan Foster's death, Local 2 Investigates reported Friday.
"We're talking crematorium-type of hot," said one Houston Police Department Homicide Squad officer assigned to the investigation.
Police said they confiscated a badly burned section of carpet from the home of Mona Yvette Nelson, 44, who stands charged with capital murder.
She had a welding background and police found welding equipment in her home on Allwood Street in the Fifth Ward area of Northeast Houston. Police said a section of carpet was badly burned and the smell of a human body filled the area around that carpet.
DNA tests are being ordered to analyze any bodily fluids.
One investigator assigned to the case said it now appears Foster was killed at that spot in Nelson's home within hours of being kidnapped from his family's home near Shepherd Drive and 43rd Street in Northwest Houston.
Police say she was acquainted with some members of the boy's family.
One officer said on Friday that the autopsy has ruled out any trauma on the child's body. There were no broken bones or any signs of strangulation or head wounds, so officers said it now appears the child was killed with a welding torch that could be capable of 6,000-degree flames.
"I've never seen burns like this," said one officer who viewed the boy's body after it was found in a ditch off the Hardy Toll Road on Tuesday.
He said that killers often try to cover their tracks by burning the victim's corpse, but in this boy's case, the burning was so intense and thorough that many veteran homicide investigators are struggling with the notion of such a grisly and painful way to die.
Nelson told a community activist from behind bars that she had nothing to do with killing the boy, and she mentioned her own grandchildren as proof that she would never harm a child in such a manner.
As for a motive, one HPD investigator said officers believe sexual abuse was behind the crime.
The officer said there is no evidence to confirm the theory at this point, but police say there was no ransom demand after the boy was kidnapped, so one officer said, "That's the only other motive (that makes any sense)."
Neighbors near the home where police believe the child was killed with a torch are struggling with the new details of the crime.
"That's sick. That's really sick, and I think the person who did it needs to pay for it. Pay dearly," said one business owner on the same block.
Connie Morris also works nearby, saying, "That's just cruel and mean if anybody would do that to a 12-year-old innocent boy."
Nelson is jailed without bond with a court appearance set for Monday.
Police spent Friday interviewing the child's family once again, shoring up the timeline of events and filling in routine gaps in the statements that were given immediately after the crime.
They also spent several hours organizing the carpet and other evidence confiscated from Nelson's home. One officer said, "We got all we need (from there)."
If you have a news tip or question for KPRC Local 2 Investigates, drop them an e-mail or call their tipline at (713) 223-TIPS (8477)
01-03-2011, 08:20:09 PM
Re: Texas Police Believe Child Was Killed with Welding Torch
Services Scheduled For Texas Boy Found Dead, Burned In Ditch
HOUSTON (January 3, 2011)—Jonathan Foster, the 12-year-old Houston boy whose burned body was discovered in a ditch, will be laid to rest in a family plot Tuesday in Pearland.
Mona Yvette Nelson, 44, is charged with capital murder in the boy’s death.
Foster was kidnapped on Christmas Eve.
Four days later a motorist spotted his burned body.
Nelson was arrested the following day.
She’s held without bond.
Investigators have said they believe Nelson, who was a maintenance worker with welding expertise, took the boy to her home, killed him and burned his body.
Police don’t’ know why the boy was killed, but say Nelson was a friend of a woman who was one of the boy’s mother’s roommates.
01-05-2011, 05:27:47 PM
Re: Texas Police Believe Child Was Killed with Welding Torch
Quanell X: Woman accused in boy's kidnapping, death did not act alone
HOUSTON – Addressing the media outside a Houston courtroom Monday, local activist Quanell X questioned whether a woman accused of capital murder in the abduction and death of a 12-year-old Houston boy acted alone.
Mona Nelson,44, appeared in court to hear her rights Monday morning.
Prosecutors say she kidnapped, killed and dumped the burned body of Jonathan Foster on Christmas Eve.
Foster disappeared from his apartment while his mother and her roommate were at work.
His charred remains were found in a ditch four days later.
"Clearly, it’s an awful case. And anytime you have the death of a child – particularly in the manner that this child died – it makes it even more heart-wrenching," prosecutor Connie Spence said.
Nelson was an acquaintance of Foster’s mother and a friend of the mother’s roommate, police said.
Investigators have said they believe Nelson acted alone, but they’ve yet to establish a motive.
"Right now, I don’t know exactly what the motive is," Spence said. "Really, there’s probably only one person who knows that, and she has an attorney at this point."
Spence praised HPD’s investigation, but noted that there was still work to be done.
"I’m sure everybody’s curious as to why this happened, why this defendant is involved with a 12-year-old boy, and I can’t answer that right now," she added.
But Quanell X, who said he’s spoken with Nelson and promised her he’d attend her first court appearance, said he believes she had no motive, and that there may have been others involved.
"This is an awful tragedy. This child is dead, yes. This child should be alive. But I do not believe Miss Nelson had a motive to harm this child," he said. "I don’t believe this case has been solved yet at all. So I think the public should not rush to judgment solely on Miss Nelson’s lone guilt, as if she’s the sole suspect in this case. There’s a lot more to this case."
The activist said he believes there was a drug debt involved in the murder.
Investigators have said they found a "boatload" of evidence in Nelson’s apartment, including burned carpet and twine similar to material found on the body. They said they also found welding equipment and torches in her home, as well as other physical evidence in a trash can.
Police said Nelson was captured by surveillance cameras dumping Foster’s body around 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 24.
Initially, investigators said Nelson denied having anything to do with Foster’s death, but she later admitted to disposing of his body.
Still, she’s insisted that she did not kill him.
Quanell X said he believes she is protecting someone.
"She appears to be a hardened lady – you know, a tough lady. Tough enough to where she would try to protect others who were involved in this," he said.
Nelson was being held in the Harris County Jail Monday without bond.