John Jones Is A Key Figure In 'Who Killed Garrett Phillips'

The first part of the documentary Who Killed Garrett Phillips? aired on HBO on Jul. 23, with Part 2 following the next night on Jul. 24. When 12-year-old Garrett Phillips was murdered in 2011, suspicion turned to soccer coach Oral "Nick" Hillary. Hillary was the ex-boyfriend of Phillips' mother Tandy Cyrus, but another of her exes, John Jones, proved to be a key figure in the case as well. Knowing where John Jones is now shows how differently he was treated by police after Phillips' murder.

The HBO documentary is likely the best place to get an update on Jones. It doesn't appear as though his daily life has been drastically altered following the case: without reports to the contrary, one can assume that he still resides in Potsdam, New York. But his involvement with Hillary's case isn't over, even though Hillary was acquitted in 2016, according to The New York Times. Jones was briefly a suspect in the murder as well, though he didn't receive nearly the same level of scrutiny that Hillary did. And that's an important part of the lawsuit Hillary has since filed against many individuals involved in his case.

In March 2019, North Country Public Radio reported that Hillary had filed a lawsuit against the New York State Police, St. Lawrence prosecutors, local police, St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain, and Jones, who was a Sheriff's Deputy in St. Lawrence County. The lawsuit alleged that Hillary's civil rights had been violated during his trial. The judge dismissed most of the claims, but some are still ongoing. According to North Country Now, that includes civil actions filed against DA Rain and Jones.

There were many similarities in Hillary and Jones: they were both romantically connected to Phillips' mother and they were both allegedly seen in proximity to Phillips before the murder. But Hillary was black and Jones was white, and Hillary was focused on as a suspect with much more intensity. In 2015, Hillary had also alleged that he'd been harassed by Jones in 2010, which was reported by NNY 360. Jones said he had had a "civil" conversation with Hillary in front of Hillary's home, but Hillary did not categorize it that way.

In a complaint filed to the county attorney's office, Hillary claimed that Jones "trailed [him] home in his truck" in September 2010, then knocked on his door to ask him about his "romantic relationship with a certain individual." Hillary was confused, especially because Jones was not in his deputy uniform and he wasn't sure if Jones was there in an official capacity or not. "Mr. Jones went on to say that if I was sleeping with his ex-girlfriend he would have 'kicked in my door,'" Hillary said. The altercation made him fearful for himself and his family, NNY 360 reported.


Per The Daily Beast, Jones was involved in the immediate aftermath of Phillips' death; he went with Phillips' mother to police interviews and called dispatchers to get information on what was going on. Despite the fact that the circumstantial evidence against him and Hillary was so similar, he didn't suffer nearly so many consequences as Hillary did. And the fact that his life has apparently remained much the same, while Hillary's was thrown into disarray, proves that.