Everyone has wanted to shed a few extra pounds at some point in their life. Many Americans start their fitness journey to slim down and shape up, and while there are success stories out there, even making an effort to be healthier is praiseworthy. For one Heather Palumbo-Jones though, her weight loss success turned from dream-come-true to living nightmare in the blink of an eye. What actions brought about her macabre and gruesome demise? Hers is the strange tale of a Tennessee family and a horrific crime that brought a small town to its knees.
Meet Heather Palumbo-Jones
A successful and happy kindergarten teacher in Germantown, TN, Heather and her husband Chris were the proud parents of an adorable son and daughter. Life was sweet, and Heather was happy with the direction her life was taking...except for one small detail.
Enter Chris Jones
Heather’s husband Chris was a successful businessman and doting father. He and Heather had shared a storybook romance, falling in love at first sight. However, as Heather began to make some positive lifestyle changes for health reasons, Chris became jealous, often expressing anger and exacting petty revenge as retaliation for her improving her life. In spite of his drastic turnaround in demeanor and behavior, Heather persevered with her plan to live a healthier life since she knew that was what was best for her.
After years of unhappiness with her body and her weight, Heather made some drastic changes to her diet and exercise, resulting in a jaw-dropping weight loss of 160 pounds! She was thrilled with her progress, ad experienced a renewed sense of confidence in herself. Sadly, her husband Chris was less than overjoyed…
Freedom and Confidence
As Heather shed weight, her self-esteem began to steadily rise. Suddenly, she was comfortable going out to make new friends, running in local 5k races, and being social with people other than her colleagues at work. Her newfound social life inspired tremendous jealousy in her husband Chris, as he began to fear she would leave him for someone younger and more active. Chris was so crazed by fear at one point that he even insisted she needed to gain back her hard-won weight loss.
.A Marriage Crumbles
Before long, Chris’s anger and frustration at Heather’s transformation turned into fits of uncontrollable rage, resulting in several episodes of physical abuse against his wife. In fear for her own safety, Heather took the kids and filed for restraining order against Chris, in addition to filing for divorce as well. For a brief time, it seemed like she and her children were going to establish a new normal, safe and happy together away from Chris Jones.
The Story Turns Dark
April 5th, Heather left the kids with their grandparents and went out with friends for happy hour at a local place. After saying her goodbyes that night, Heather got into her car and headed for home. It was the last time any of her friends would ever see her alive.
The following morning, Heather did not show up for work at Frayser Elementary School. Her students were sad and disappointed, but her friends were concerned that something truly tragic may have occurred. They had all warned her about Chris’ tenuous hold on sanity, and his propensity for violence.
No Forced Entry
After a call to the local police, officers visited Heather’s home to investigate her whereabouts. What they found was a neat and tidy home, securely locked and undisturbed. They stated they found no evidence that a struggle had occurred, and that Heather’s missing keys, mobile phone, and car indicated that she may have simply run away. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.
Watch and Pray
In the months that followed, Heather’s friends and colleagues held prayer vigils and went on the local and national news to make please for Heather to come home. As time went on though, her closest friends and family, as well as the police, were all questioning whether she really had run away, or if a far worse fate had befallen her. Obviously, her ex-husband Chris was questioned, though the police were unable to discover anything that was of use in locating Heather out of him. At least, that was the case until Heather’s body was found.
A Gruesome Discovery
Deep in the forest on the outskirts of Germantown, investigators found the severely burned remains of a woman’s body. A DNA sample was immediately sent to a forensic pathologist, who determined that the remains did in fact belong to Heather Palumbo-Jones. Cause of death was ruled to be asphyxiation. Upon being confronted with this evidence, Chris Jones made an immediate confession and was arrested for his ex-wife’s murder.
A Day In Court
Chris plead guilty to the murder charge, making his trial mercifully short. Heather’s family were given the opportunity to speak with Jones regarding the impact his choice had on their family, and the immeasurable pain that his decision had caused all of them. Chris Jones was convicted of second-degree murder, and is now serving a life sentence without parole in a Tennessee state penitentiary.
Heather’s two children were orphaned as a result of their mother’s death and father’s arrest and conviction. They currently live with cousins, and family friends have founded an organization dubbed “Zumba for Heather” to help cover the little ones living expenses, and life has started to get a little brighter for both kids. Hopefully with time and care, they will be able to overcome their father’s unforgivable crime. Heather’s story is definitely an exceptional tale right out of a true crime novel. However, it also serves as a cautionary tale about domestic abuse, and how even the most non-threatening of warning signs can quickly turn to violence if ignored.