Quiana Michelle Dees was 12 years old when she was murdered after sneaking out of her apartment home in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and the suspect was identified more than 20 years later.
At around 9 p.m. on May 1, 1992, Quiana was clothed in a sweatshirt and pants when she left her home on Prospect Avenue to attend her classmate’s party.
It was being held at a house on Washington Avenue, according to the Asbury Park Press.
About two hours later, Quiana left the party with a female friend. They walked halfway down the block before they parted ways.
Witnesses reported seeing Quiana walking alone in the opposite direction of her house.
At around 2:45 a.m. on May 1, 1992, law enforcement officers received a 911 call from a passerby who claimed to have found Quiana injured in a wooded area. It was next to Mount Olivet Seventh-day Adventist Church in the 1700 block of Washington Avenue in Neptune.
It was about three and a half blocks from her home.
When first responders arrived on the scene, they discovered that Quiana had been shot in the head, but she was still alive.
She was transported to Jersey Shore Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 5:35 p.m. on May 3, 1992.
An autopsy revealed that Quiana died from a cerebral hemorrhage due to the gunshot wound.
Quiana was not sexually assaulted, though she was found with her pants pulled down.
The autopsy also indicated that she had a blood-alcohol level of 0.005. Detectives stated that alcohol was not served at the party, but the children brought their own liquor, and Quiana had a sip.
Quiana was a seventh-grade student at Asbury Park Elementary School, and she was known as a quiet girl who enjoyed baking and playing with her dolls.
She was also a good girl and didn’t get into any trouble.
When relatives reportedly learned that she had snuck out of the house, they were stunned, as that was something she had never done before, and it was out of character for her.
Investigators stated that they interviewed more than 100 people but were unable to locate the person responsible for Quiana’s murder, and her case ultimately turned cold.
In December 2018, police officials arrested then-40-year-old Kishia Jones, who was living in Henderson, North Carolina, at the time. She was charged with aggravated manslaughter.
It was reported that detectives considered Jones a suspect long before her arrest, and they believe jealousy was the motive.
During an interview by the Asbury Park Press, Jones, who was 13 years old at the time, stated that “she falsely confessed to the crime, but only under pressure from police.”
“I told them I did it because they kept saying I did it. The cops have ruined my life. They’ve made everybody think I did it.”
In 2008, Jones went to the police station and spoke with detectives. She admitted to being present at the party with Quiana.
She also stated that before Quiana’s death, she had broken into the home of former Asbury Park police chief, Cary Wheary, with two other girls, and they stole a gun, Courier-Post reported.
“No one considered that I was the one to be killed,” Jones told the press in 2008. “Quiana and me were [SIC] a lot alike. We were both beautiful inside. But she was poured. Now she’s dead, I’m a very angry girl.”
A year before the interview, a witness told police that they overheard Jones at a salon saying, “I made Quiana into an angel.”
When she was questioned about it, she said, “I just meant that if she was an angel, she could come back and tell us what happened.”
Investigators said that they suspected Jones of fatally shooting Quiana, but they didn’t have enough evidence to arrest her.
After learning about Jones’ arrest, Quiana’s friends and family convened at the Deliverance Evangelistic Center to celebrate.
“I feel great. I feel wonderful,” said the victim’s mother. “I feel blessed, all in one, just to know that people still care. It makes me feel really good.”
“If she don’t [SIC] get any time, I’m satisfied because I have closure. I’m grateful to the prosecutor’s office for everything they’d done.”
According to the Monmouth Prosecutor’s Office, Jones may not be tried as an adult because she was a teenager at the time of the fatal shooting.
They also mentioned that if she was convicted of murdering Quiana, her sentence would be no more than four years.