In the case of murder, suspicion almost always falls first upon the shoulders of the spouse or significant other. The idea that the wife, husband, boyfriend, or girlfriend did it seems the most obvious: but even the most dedicated investigators can get the information wrong some of the time.
Jodi was, in general, a good girl. But she was still fourteen and therefore still a teenager and therefore prone to rebellious or experimental endeavors. One of these endeavors was her relationship with her less-than-stellar boyfriend…
Jodi’s social life was in disarray, which for a 14-year-old girl is a catastrophic thing. She wasn’t allowed out, wasn’t allowed to talk to her friends outside school, and perhaps most disastrous of all, wasn’t allowed to contact or see her boyfriend Luke. There was a reason for that of course, as Luke was the bad influence that got her in trouble in the first place.
You see, Jodi had been punished by her mother for smoking cannabis and ditching school, both at the suggestion of her good-for-nothing boyfriend Luke. Despite these little indiscretions though, Luke wasn’t exactly a bad kid. His parents had separated when he was 11, but overall he had been brought up in relatively comfortable surroundings with many opportunities. Still, Jodi’s mother wasn’t fond of him, and for good reason…
Dealer Turned Boyfriend
Luke was in the same class as Jodi at St. David’s RC High School in Dalkeith, Scotland. In the beginning, before they became an item, Luke supplied Jodi and her circle of friends with a healthy supply of cannabis. It was in March 2003 that their relationship moved to the next level. In no time at all, their budding emotional connection moved to something physical.
Unbeknownst to both their parents, the 14-year-olds soon became intimate. They were too young of course, but what hormone-addled adolescent is going to take that as a logical justification to stop? Luke had his own secrets from Jodi too, however, and he was not only sleeping with her, but with another girl at the time as well…
Free to Go
It was June, 2003, and the summer was just coming into its own when Jodi Jones found herself grounded for smoking pot with her boyfriend. She had been stuck in the house for weeks and her mother had finally decided to let her out. On June 30, 2003, at 5 pm, Jodi went out to meet Luke Mitchell for their first date in weeks.
Haven’t Seen Her
But Jodi didn’t come home that night when she was supposed to. Judith Jones couldn’t believe it, she’d given her more than enough latitude, all her daughter had to do was return the favor by making sure she got home by curfew. She wasn’t answering her mobile so she called Luke’s cell phone to see where she was. He answered but told her that he hadn’t seen Jodi all night: she had never shown up…
Call the Police
Luke Mitchell volunteered to help search for her while Judith called around to her daughter’s other friends to see if anyone else had seen her. Unfortunately, nobody else had seen Jodi either that night. With nowhere else to turn, Judith called the police. The whole neighborhood was soon out and scouring the area for the missing teen.
It wasn’t until approximately 11:30 that night that Luke finally shouted out that he thought he’d found something. There, deep in a secluded wooded area and behind a wall, was Jodi’s body. She was dead, stabbed to death by some unknown assailant. As if that weren’t enough, the killer had decided to mutilate her corpse as well…
The path on which Jodi was found was one that Judith had warned her daughter against traversing many times. She would insist that if she did go down that road, she make sure she was accompanied by Luke. It looked like on that fateful night, Jodi had chosen, in one last act of rebellion, to ignore her mother’s warning.
Luke was a mess after he’d found the body and, seeing the pain she felt in another person, Judith Jones decided to go over to his house so that they could comfort one another. Despite the fact that Luke Mitchell was in every way a grieving boyfriend, the police seemed to think that he had something to do with Jodi’s murder. After all, he had found the body relatively quickly…
Judith went home and spoke to police, who explained their theories about Luke’s involvement. This revelation gave her pause, she had never liked Luke and thought him a bad influence, but she never imagined him capable of killing anyone, much less her daughter. The Jones family made it known that Luke was not welcome at the funeral and school authorities became concerned that he should not be allowed back into the general population at school, though they cited that it was for his own safety…
Luke was suspended two months later. When police took him in for questioning, he explained that on the night of the murder, he’d been home alone between 5 and 5:45 pm. This alibi was soon contradicted by his brother, who said that he too was home alone during those times and that Luke wasn’t home at all. It was enough to cast significant doubt upon Luke’s verity…
Soon after, a witness came forward with information about that night. She told police that she’d seen a young man who looked like Luke Mitchell, standing with a young girl at the woods near Roan’s Dyke at around 4:55 pm. After that, they discovered a knife pouch marked “JJ 1989-2003” and “The finest day I ever had was when tomorrow never came.” which may have belonged to Luke.
Arrested at Last
Originally, following his discovery of the body, Luke was questioned as a witness, but as can happen in cases like these, he quickly became the main focus of the investigation. The media soon weighed in on law enforcement’s suspicions and began to speculate that he was the sole suspect. Within 10 months, police had enough to arrest and charge Luke Mitchell with the murder of his girlfriend Jodi Jones…
The prosecution’s main argument against him was that if the knife pouch had belonged to Luke, it was a bizarre way to commemorate someone: unless you’d killed them of course. The defense however alleged that all the evidence against him was completely circumstantial and that without DNA evidence, they couldn’t tie him to the murder.
The whole time, Luke insisted that he wasn’t guilty and that he had nothing to do with the murder. Despite the contradicting evidence, he maintained that he was home cooking dinner at the time of her murder. Yet, despite this position, he did not testify at his trial…
Finally, on January 21, 2005, the jury came back from their paltry five hours of deliberation and rendered a guilty verdict upon the accused. Luke Mitchell, who was 16 years old at the time of his conviction, was condemned by Judge Lord Nimmo Smith as being “truly wicked.” The judge even tacked on an additional charge of supplying cannabis and sentenced him to 20 years to life.
Then, in May 2007, two years after they believed the whole mess was over with and justice was done, a BBC Scotland documentary, Frontline Scotland, aired which explored an alternate theory: that Luke Mitchell was not the real killer. They believed that the real killer might actually be a student and heavy drug user who handed in an essay about killing a girl in the woods a few weeks before the murder…
According to the documentary, a friend of this unnamed suspect had seen him soon after the murder, scratched up and clawed about the face. The original case had drawn some disturbing parallels to the original Black Dahlia murder, which the prosecution had accused Luke Mitchell of being fascinated with prior to Jodi Jones’ untimely death.
The Jones family of course, who were just beginning to get over their loss, were reported to be “outraged” at the program and the fact that it cast doubt against the obvious culprit. For his part though, Luke Mitchell maintains his innocence and denies any involvement in Jodi’s murder to this day.