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A 'tortured soul' dies in handcuffs

He attacks a friend after a life of abuse and night of drinking.

Published April 22, 2007


Max Jones, 47, died Friday with a half-gallon of Old Crow whiskey and a $2.75 jar of pickles in his stomach and handcuffs on his wrists.

His life ended on a 1.6-mile trip from his apartment to the St. Petersburg police station after he was arrested for hitting his roommate in the head with a cordless telephone.

When police officers opened the transportation van at the station to take him in for booking, he was suddenly unresponsive. Attempts to revive him failed.

The cause of death is most likely related to a heart condition, police said. Relatives and friends don't suspect foul play.

"He was a tortured soul all his life," said his older sister, Evelyn Carol Kinyoun. "I knew it was just a matter of time."

Jones abused his body with too much food, too many drugs, and a sea of alcohol for most of his life.

He was arrested 45 times in 22 years, including charges of drug possession, driving under the influence, battery on a police officer and robbery.

All he ever wanted was his deceased mother, friends said.

"He never took care of himself, like he didn't really want to be alive," said Chuck Milier, the roommate Jones attacked Friday. "He always said 'one day I'm going to see my mother again.' Well, he is with her now."

* * *

Max Lynn Jones was born on March 29, 1960, fulfilling Elizabeth Jones' lifelong wish to have a son.

The birth left her frail, Kinyoun said. She died 10 years later of an elliptic seizure.

His father, William Jones, was heartbroken and needed someone to blame. The boy bore the brunt of his father's rage after the family left their home in Ohio and relocated to St. Petersburg.

Jones had been a normal boy. He got along well with his sister. His mother doted on him. But after she died, he soon went into withdrawal, Kinyoun said.

He was hit by a car only a few months after the family moved to St. Petersburg, leaving him with a seizure disorder that required he take daily medication.

He started fighting more with his father.

Eventually, he dropped out of school and started drinking. He bought a moped and repeatedly crashed it, leaving a maze of scars.

Jones got married once, to a woman who seemed to like drugs as much he did, the family said. They had a boy and girl, but never could curb their partying ways. They were cited for negligence, and their children were taken away by the state and eventually adopted by another couple.

By the time William Jones died in 1996, his son was addicted to painkillers, marijuana and alcohol. He left his son $1 in his will. Kinyoun got everything else.

She gave her brother money from time to time but decided to cut him off in 1998. Jones was abusive and was probably using the money for alcohol anyway, she thought.

When homicide detectives showed up at her door Saturday at 5:20 a.m., Kinyoun, 48, had not seen her brother in nearly 10 years.

He died without really getting to know his two nephews and niece or his great-niece and nephew. Kinyoun said she felt guilty.

"Maybe I should have been less mean. I have a lot of regrets," she said Saturday as she cried softly. "He just never fit in all his life. He really didn't do anything well."

* * *

On Friday, Milier, the roommate, had started to wonder if his friend of six years was trying to kill him.

Jones had stabbed him in the chest just three weeks ago. Afterward, Jones laughed about it. Milier said he didn't want to press charges, because Jones already had been arrested so many times, but he warned his friend not to get violent with him again.

The plan on Friday was to make some hamburgers, enjoy some whiskey and Coke, and relax. Milier's friend brought over the jar of pickles, and Jones snacked as he prepared the meat and made drinks for everyone.

They never got around to the hamburgers.

By 11:30 p.m., Jones and Milier were drunk. In the middle of a conversation, Jones threw the phone at Milier's head. Milier called the police.

"I couldn't handle it. This guy is three, four, five times bigger than me," said Milier, referring to his 320-pound friend.

When police arrived, Jones didn't complain of any injuries or medical problems. He didn't fight back when police cuffed his hands, placed them in his lap, and had him sit in the back of the transportation van. They put a chain around his stomach to secure him in the vehicle. He was the only one in the van, said police Sgt. Michael Kovacsev.

When the transport officer arrived at the station, he announced that some kind of medical emergency had occurred. CPR didn't work. Jones was pronounced dead at Bayfront Medical Center shortly after.

On the night of the arrest, Milier had checked Jones' blood pressure, like he always did, and told his friend that his blood pressure was nearly double the healthy range.

"I told him to go to the hospital," Milier said. "I was always telling him to take his blood pressure medication. He never listened."

No one should blame themselves for Jones' death, Milier said.

"He was a good drunk, but he was a drunk," he said. "I cried all morning. I'll be honest, I cried hard."

Cristina Silva can be reached at 727 893-8846 or

[Last modified April 22, 2007, 00:04:29]

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