Death of Danye Jones, Son of Ferguson Activist Melissa McKinnies, Being Investigated as a Suicide

Danye Jones's body was found on October 17. - VIA FACEBOOK
Danye Jones's body was found on October 17.
Over the past few days, news of the death of Danye Jones has spread across social media in St. Louis and beyond. On October 17, the body of the 24-year-old was discovered in the backyard of his mother's house in the 1400 block of Criterion Avenue in Spanish Lake.

Jones' death sparked messages of grief and support, but some of those messages were paired with theories that Jones had been murdered or lynched, and those theories attempted to make comparisons between Jones, the son of Ferguson activist and organizer Melissa McKinnies, with the violent deaths of other figures in the protest movement.

In a series of Facebook posts that have since been removed or set to private, McKinnies herself insisted that her son had not committed suicide. She posted graphic photos of her son's body, showing him hanging from a tree with what appears to be a sheet wrapped around his neck.

Those photos, in turn, where shared across Facebook and Twitter. (Be warned, the link leads to a tweet containing photos of Jones' body.)

In an email this afternoon, St. Louis County Police Sgt. Shawn McGuire confirmed that police are investigating Jones' death as a suicide. The medical examiner is awaiting a toxicology test before determining cause of death.

"At this time," McGuire wrote, "there are no signs of foul play."

McKinnies, Jones' mother, was a member of the Ferguson protest group Lost Voices and later played a significant role during the protests that took over St. Louis streets in September 2017, following the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley. In the Facebook post that accompanied the photo of her son's body, she wrote, "They lynched my baby."

A gathering of support for McKinnies is scheduled for Thursday 5 p.m. outside the Clayton Justice Center.

Beyond the immediate grief of those who knew him, Jones' death has also brought renewed attention to a string of deaths of Ferguson protesters and activists.

On the night that the grand jury delivered a no-bill for the shooting of Michael Brown, Deandre Joshua was found in his car, shot dead and lit on fire. Two years later, prominent Ferguson protester Darren Seals was found dead in his car. He had also been shot dead and lit on fire. Last May, Edward Crawford, the subject of an iconic protest photo, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Members of Crawford's family said they believed his death was an accident, not a suicide.)

The deaths of Seals and Joshua were investigated as homicides. McGuire says that those cases remain unsolved.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]
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