At 9:02 p.m. on March 29, Dustin Jones texted a friend that things were “getting weird. I think I’m about to bounce.”
The next morning, Jones, 40, was found dead in the trunk of his car, which had been set on fire in Phoenix.
The text is included in court documents, which also state that Jones, who lived in Tucson, was visiting a woman in Phoenix. The two were with a second man that night, described in the court records as the boyfriend of the same woman.
Jones asked the friend he texted to report him missing if he hadn’t been heard from by 10 p.m. March 30, court documents said. Before the deadline, Jones’ body was found in his burning car in a residential neighborhood. Court records say the man was still alive when the car was set on fire.
Phoenix police have arrested two suspects in connection with Jones’ murder. The suspects were identified by police as Rafael Contreras, 26, and Cory Christensen, 22. Christensen had been released from jail on drug-related charges on March 27.
Lured to a motel
About three hours after Jones sent the text, the woman’s boyfriend, whose name is redacted in court documents, took Jones to a strip club and ordered him a drink because Jones’ wallet had gotten stuck in the trunk of his car, court documents say. After drinks, the two went to a motel with a section that is “frequented by prostitutes,” according to court documents.
This was about 2:30 a.m. on March 30, court records say, adding it was the last time the man saw Jones.
Police interviewed a witness who was a friend of the boyfriend, according to court documents. In the interview, the witness told police the boyfriend said he was upset that Jones was “having a sexual relationship” with his girlfriend.
The court records say the boyfriend told several others that Jones was a child molester and “to handle it.” The records say Jones was lured into a room and kidnapped.
The records say Jones was not a child molester and “had never been arrested for any charges in his entire life.”
Another witness later told police that he had been in the room and saw a person with “his hands tied behind his back and his face was covered.” He also said the person was “pleading for his life” and saying he “was not a bad person,” according to court records.
Two men were in the room and told the witness that the person tied up was a child molester, court records say. The witness told police he recalls seeing a driver’s license with Jones’ name on it in the room.
Contreras put Jones in the trunk of the car and asked Christensen if he wanted to “make some money,” court records said. They drove off.
Later that night
Witnesses contacted police and reported seeing a white, four-door car driving through a shopping complex on Cave Creek Road, north of Union Hills Drive about 3:30 a.m. on March 30, court records said. The driver was “holding a gun in his left hand outside the window of the vehicle,” witnesses reported, according to the court records.
Court records said the witnesses told police they had just met the driver, named Rafael, who had asked them if they had a gas can. In a police interview with Christensen, the suspect told police that he had gone into the gas station to buy $2 worth of gas, and when he returned, the car already smelled of gasoline, court records said.
When police caught up to the car at the gas station, the car sped off into a residential neighborhood near 19th Avenue and Union Hills Drive, court records said.
Christensen said that once they were in the neighborhood, “Raphael asked for a lighter then (Christensen) observed a flash,” according to court records. The two fled.
When police arrived at the scene, they heard shouts for help from the trunk of the burning car but couldn’t get through the flames, according to court records.
By the time the fire department arrived, Jones had died. Police saw what appeared to be a burned telephone cord and a belt near his hands, and found a dark hat with a light brim and a light green notebook with Jones’ mother’s name on it, court records said. Security footage from the Shell station showed Christensen holding the notebook and wearing the hat, court records said.
On March 31, police arrested Contreras on unrelated burglary charges. When he walked through police headquarters, the woman’s boyfriend recognized him as the man whom he had last seen with Jones, court records said.
Christensen was arrested on April 11, police said.
Police said Contreras and Christensen both are being held for investigation of first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping, arson, theft and fleeing from officers.
No other arrests have been made in connection with the case, police said.
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