Missing North Carolina teen found under trap door of Lincoln County house

Published 10:31 am Friday, January 5, 2024

By Abigail Roberts

Correspondent

KINGS MOUNTAIN – On Christmas Day, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a domestic call at a residence on Robertstown Road, where they found a missing teenager from North Carolina under a trap door in the floor.

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The mother of Zackary Keith Jones, 34, of 1465 Robertstown Road, had called to report a domestic violence situation between her son and his ‘girlfriend,’ according to arrest records.

When deputies arrived they made contact with Jones, who told them the female victim had fled the scene. His mother told deputies the girl never left the residence.

Deputies entered the residence, where they found narcotics and drug paraphernalia. Jones allegedly attempted to destroy the evidence and was placed under arrest.

“(The) female victim was found inside a bedroom in a cut out door in the floor covered by a rug,” the arrest citation states. “It was later determined that she was a missing juvenile from North Carolina.”

The victim, who was reported missing out of Fayetteville, North Carolina on Dec. 6, told deputies Jones had strangled her and had threatened to kill her.

She said Jones picked her up in North Carolina two-to-three weeks earlier and brought her back to Kentucky under the premise that he was 19 years old.

“When he showed up to get her she states he looked older and he then told her he had lied to her and that he was 25 years old,” the citation states. “She states that after they got to his residence and met his family she found out that he was 34 years old and he threatened her and told her that she was to tell everyone that she was 18 years old.”

Jones was allegedly armed with a .22 caliber handgun that was retrieved from the scene by deputies, which he used to threaten the female victim on multiple occasions.

The victim told deputies on the night Jones brought her back to Kentucky they were stopped by a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy for a traffic violation and that Jones had the gun and was going to “shoot the officer if they tried to get him or her out of the vehicle.”

Jones admitted to having a sexual relationship with the female juvenile and to using an electronic device to lure her to him.

“He states that she begged him to kill her,” the arrest citation states.

Jones also admitted to taking the female from the custody of her legal guardian, her grandmother, who resides in North Carolina.

From jail, Jones told WKYT-TV that the girl appeared older and he was trying to help her when he picked her up. He also said he did not hide the girl and that she hit on her own free will.

The female’s grandfather told the station that she had run away from her grandmother’s home and they reported her missing after losing contact with her.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Luster was the arresting officer. Jones has been charged with fourth-degree assault; first-degree strangulation; unlawful transaction with a minor (illegal sex act); unlawful transaction with a minor (illegal controlled substance, physical injury); resisting arrest; first-degree unlawful imprisonment; possession of controlled substance (cocaine); possession of drug paraphernalia; tampering with physical evidence; third-degree rape; third-degree sodomy; procuring use of minor by electronic means; and third-degree terroristic threatening.

He is being held in the Pulaski County Detention Center.