Melissa McKinnies’ Son, Danye Jones, Died of Suicide Not Lynching, Police Say

Danye Jones Facebook page

Facebook/Danye Jones

Danye Jones, the son of a prominent Ferguson activist, died on October 17. The sergeant of the public information unit for the St. Louis County Police, Shawn Maguire, told Heavy.com that Jones’ death is being investigated as a suicide. Jones was 24 years old.

In a now-deleted Facebook post, Jones’ mother, Melissa McKinnies, published graphic photos of her son’s death. In those posts, McKinnies said that her son had been lynched. Those extremely graphic and disturbing images can be viewed here.

In a statement, Sgt. Maguire told Heavy.com:

We arrived in the 11400 block of Criterion for a report of a suicide on October 17. Our responding officers arrived on scene. They located Danye. He was deceased. He was laying on the ground in the wooded area behind the residence. The immediately called our detectives with crimes against persons who is currently investigating the incident as a suicide.

Heavy.com has reached out to Melissa McKinnies for a statement regarding Jones’ death. McKinnies is one of the members of Lost Voices, a group that emerged during the protests into the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014.

A protest is being organized at the Clayton Justice Center in Clayton, Missouri, on November 1, with regard to Jones’ death.

It is not clear when McKinnies removed the graphic images of her son’s death or if Facebook removed the images. On October 30, McKinnies posted on her page, “4:51 a.m. and sick with grief but ready to get up and fight for my baby.” In the original post, McKinnies had written, “I’m sick and losing my mind but I had to let the world see what they did to my baby.”

On his Facebook page, Jones’ last visible post showed him launching a property business. That post was from September 15. Jones wrote in his Intro section, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

A 2016 feature on McKinnies identified her as a mother of three. That article, by Color Lines, detailed McKinnies and a group of Lost Voices protests, in a picket against a Donald Trump rally. McKinnies described the hostility she and other protesters suffered saying, “I sit there, and the more I listen, the more afraid I am because they are screaming and you hear the word ‘nigger’ in there like crazy—like it’s an ordinary, everyday word. They are pointing their fingers and you see fists and folks are yelling things like,‘U.S.A.!’ and ‘Get out of here, nigger!’”

After the rally, McKinnies was held by police on an unrelated robbery charge stemming from 2014. The charge related to an incident where a man was recording her, against her wishes, at a private meeting. McKinnies denied the allegations in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in December 2014, saying that she had actually returned the phone to the man, Chris Schaefer.

Schaefer had said that he was accused of live streaming a private meeting online and was beaten up while his phone was stolen. McKinnies told the Post-Dispatch, “We’re being targeted because we’re the ones out here with Lost Voices pushing this movement. That wasn’t me. Nine to ten people ran out of the church after him, and I wasn’t one of them.”

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