MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied a convicted murderer parole in a decades-old case that brought about the creation of a statewide victims' rights advocacy organization.
Jerry Lee Jones was among three men convicted of robbing, raping, and then shooting Quenette Shehane to death in December of 1976.
Following her daughter’s brutal murder, Shehane’s mother, Miriam Shehane, founded Victims of Crime and Leniency, or VOCAL, in 1982. It’s a statewide organization that advocates on behalf of victims and their families.
While multiple people appeared at the hearing in support of the victim’s family Wednesday, every seat available for those representing Jones remained empty. Also absent from the hearing was new Pardons and Paroles Board Chair Lyn Head.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Miriam Shehane told WSFA 12 News she’s not happy with where Jones is being held.
“Jerry Lee Jones, who was on death row for five years, and anyone who has been on death row for five years, does not deserve to be at a work release center," Shehane said. "I am asking that he be taken off work release and be put where he needs to be and that is in prison.”
To be clear, Jones is being held by the Alabama Department of Corrections at the Childersburg Community Work Center, but is not on work release, according to VOCAL. However, the organization is asking that he be returned to an Alabama prison facility.
The victim services officer that helped the victim’s family during the case testified that she pulled Jones’ records Tuesday and it showed he had been moved to the lighter security work release facility, changing his security from a level four to a level two. The victim services officer asked that he be returned to a more secure facility.
Shehane, 21, was killed on Dec. 20, 1976. She had just graduated Birmingham-Southern College. Her car was packed up and she was ready to return home to Barbour County.
She stayed in Birmingham for several days after graduation, working at a department store. When she left work that night, she went to her boyfriend’s fraternity house for dinner to see him one last time before the holidays. They needed salad dressing so she hopped in the car with some cash and headed to a nearby convenience store.
When she didn’t return, her boyfriend began frantically calling around and driving around searching for her. When he couldn’t locate her, he called police and her family, who drove to Birmingham from Clio when they learned that she was missing.
Quenette’s nude and frozen body was found the next day. She had been abducted from the convenience store, forced into her own car by three suspects and raped as they drove around. She was then shot several times as she begged for her life.
Inside her car, police found the salad dressing and two cupcakes she had purchased for dessert.
Jones was among the three men arrested and convicted in the case. He and Eddie Bernard Neal were given life sentences, Neal without parole.
The third suspect, Wallace Norell Thomas, was caught robbing another convenience store with the same gun used to kill the woman. His palm print was also found on her car. Thomas was executed in 1990 for Quenette’s murder.
VOCAL came about several years after Shehane’s death. Her family endured seven trials in those five years involving the three suspects after a portion of Alabama’s death penalty was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court and all three of their trials had to be done over again.