Friends of murdered Germantown woman recall ‘very devout mother’

By Matt Saxton

As the friends of Heather Palumbo-Jones gathered Wednesday afternoon outside the Germantown council chambers, they remembered a friend and mother who lived in fear of her soon-to-be ex-husband.

“She was a very devout Christian, very devout mother,” said longtime friend Melissa Smith. “She talked about getting her tattoos – if that had ever happened – she wanted to get the mother bear tattoo, because she didn’t want anyone messing with her kids.”

Smith spoke following a press conference held the Germantown municipal building. There, police gave few details about the investigation and the second-degree murder charges they filed Tuesday against Chris Jones, Heather Palumbo-Jones’ estranged husband. What they did reveal is what friends said they had feared since she filed for divorce.

“You would never know what she was going through at home,” said Smith, tears rolling down her cheek. “Those of us who knew her knew. But she was just radiant and happy with joy.”

Police said Chris Smith confessed to killing Heather Palumbo-Jones after turning himself in to them Tuesday. He was in the jail on $1 million bond awaiting an arraignment, which had been scheduled for late Wednesday.

Investigators found the body of Heather Palumbo Jones, 33, Tuesday night with the help of a cadaver dog in the area of Collierville-Arlington Road and Highway 64 in Memphis. She lived in the 7000 block of Poplar Avenue and was a teacher at Frayser Achievement Elementary school.

“I think we all really appreciate what you have done,” Smith said during the conference. “We thank you and praise you and have lifted you up in our prayers.”

Chris Jones allegedly confessed to killing his wife Tuesday evening, police said. He and his wife had separated in January and were engaged in child custody hearings over their two children, who are now staying with their godmother.

Heather Palumbo-Jones went missing after she did not show up for work on April 16. She had been at school on April 15, police said.

Smith and other friends said that they had been worried that Chris Jones might try to harm them after they started searching for Heather Palumbo-Jones.

“I’ve been worried. I looked over my shoulders,” she said. “I’m so thankful that I won’t be that way anymore.”

Friend Blair Jones said she also had been worried for some time about Chris Jones. She said that anyone who met him instantly had a “creepy feeling.”

“I wish, I wish, I wish I had paid more attention to that creepy feeling,” she said.