Murder victim’s family talks about leaving Trenton’s Pearl Street

Police investigate Trenton's first homicide of 2015 in the 200 block of Pearl Street. Scott Ketterer - The Trentonian

Police investigate Trenton’s first homicide of 2015 in the 200 block of Pearl Street. Scott Ketterer - The Trentonian

The family of Tuesday’s murder victim believes they know the identity of the killer, who they say made death threats for the past several months.

Anthony Jones, 43, was gunned down Tuesday evening in the 200 block of Pearl Street. Police found his body lying in the middle of the street around 6:40 p.m., and Jones was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Jones and his family used to live on Pearl Street, but in December they moved to a house on General Greene Avenue. The family moved because they were tired of the shootings and open-air drug deals that plague their old neighborhood.

“We wanted to get out of the area,” Jones’s fiancee Berta Gist-Jones said. “We made a move for our children.”

Anthony Jones and his fiancee Berta Gist-Jones (contributed photo)

Anthony Jones and his fiancee Berta Gist-Jones (contributed photo)

Berta and Anthony have two children together: a 4-year-old and a two-year-old. They each also have children from previous relationships. The pair had been together for about 10 years and lived on Pearl Street for about half of that time. Berta’s mother Antonia Defigueras said she often saw young people with guns and drugs causing havoc in the 200 block of Pearl Street, which prevented the family from letting the kids play outside.

“Pearl Street is very rough,” Defigueras said. “I’ve seen young boys walking on Pearl Street just start shooting up in the air. I had to snatch my grandkids and run in the house.”

According to his family, in the summer of last year, Jones — who is also known as Skeett — had an altercation with a man who lives on Hudson Street. The altercation started out verbal, the family said, but turned physical after the other man sucker-punched Jones as he tried to walk away.

“He and Skeett started fighting and Skeett got the best of him,” Defigueras said.

After the fight, Defigueras said, the man who fought with Jones told people in the neighborhood that he was going to kill him. Jones and his family ignored the threats, but a few months later they moved out of the Pearl Street home to distance the children from violence.

The family still has property inside the Pearl Street home, which is why Jones was there on Tuesday evening. The family says Jones went to check the mail and retrieve some belongings when he was confronted by a group of men and was shot several times. The family believes one of those men was the person Jones fought last summer.

“They didn’t have to do him like that,” Berta Gist-Jones said. “Now, I have to raise my two children without him, and they’re young so they don’t really understand.”

This makeshift memorial in honor of Anthony Jones is on display in the 200 block of Pearl Street where he was gunned down. January, 28, 2015 - Penny Ray

This makeshift memorial in honor of Anthony Jones is on display in the 200 block of Pearl Street. January, 28, 2015 - Penny Ray

Jones’s family described him as a wonderful father who “had a big heart.” He was a stay at home dad who took his young kids to school every day, the family said. But his generosity extended to others outside his family as well. When he hosted birthday parties for his children, Jones would invite the entire block; and when the ice cream truck drove through the neighborhood, he’d buy treats for all of the nearby kids. Jones also gave food or money to homeless people who frequented Pearl Street, the family said, and for the past five years he occasionally volunteered at the Mount Carmel Guild, where he worked with Sister Loretta, Program Director for the Emergency Assistance Office.

“Every Thanksgiving he would stop by and help us out,” Sister Loretta said. “He was always very helpful, and we’re very sad that someone we know had to suffer in this way.”

Jones’s family said they are fed up with the violence in Trenton. They often read stories in the newspaper about how the city is trying to move forward in a positive direction, but they’re not optimistic about the future considering the amount of violence that regularly occurs. They must now explain to his young kids how their father died and why it couldn’t be prevented.

“The funeral is going to be bad because when they see their father in the casket they’re going to say ‘Daddy, wake up,’” Defigueras said. “He was a good father. He wasn’t like one of these deadbeat dads who don’t give a damn about his kids. He was a hands-on dad.”

No suspects have been arrested in connection with Jones’s death, and police have not disclosed a motive for the killing.

The case is being investigated by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force. Anyone with information is asked to call (609) 989-6406. Or use the Trenton police confidential tip line at (609) 989-3663. Tipsters may also call the Trenton Crime Stoppers tipline at (609) 278-8477. Those wishing to text a tip can send a message labeled TCSTIPS to Trenton Crime Stoppers at 274637.

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