Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Genene Jones: Baby Killer

Wrong Turns

In The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, Michael Newton describes Jones' background. She had been a beautician before going into nursing in 1977 and had worked at several hospitals in the San Antonio area. Peter Elkind says that she had claimed to have grown up feeling unwanted and unloved.

Genene was born on July 13, 1950, and was immediately given up for adoption. Her new parents were Dick and Gladys Jones, who adopted three other children as well — two older and one younger than Genene. They lived in a two-story, four-bedroom mansion just outside San Antonio. Dick was an entrepreneur and professional gambler. He worked in the entertainment business, operating nightclubs. Somewhat larger-than-life, he was free-spending and generous, but his lifestyle eventually took a toll on his family. The nightclub went south and there was less money to spend. Jones tried a restaurant, but that venture failed, too.

When Genene was ten, her father was arrested. It seems that a large safe had turned up missing from a home owned by a man who had been at Jones' club at the time of the burglary. There was $1,500 in cash and some valuable jewelry inside. A priest turned it over to police, protecting the one who had given it to him, but the police went after Dick Jones. He confessed but claimed the episode was a practical joke. The charges were dropped.

Then Jones opened a billboard business. For Genene, according to Carol Anne Davis in Women Who Kill, riding around in the truck with her father while he put up billboards was the happiest time of her life. Other than that, she had a hard time getting attention. She felt left out and unfavored by her parents. She went around calling herself the family's "black sheep."

Sometimes she would pretend to be ill in order to get people to notice, and at school she became bossy. She was short and overweight, which added to her loneliness. There were acquaintances who called her aggressive and friends who said she had betrayed them. She was known for lying and manipulating people.

Genene was close to her younger brother, Travis, who loved to be in their father's shop. When he was 14, he put together a pipe bomb that blew up in his face, killing him. Genene was 16 at the time, and during the funeral, she screamed and fainted. She had lost her closest companion. Some believe this trauma fed her peculiar cruelty. Others said she was just histrionic and grabbed any opportunity for attention.

During her senior year of high school, Genene's father began to get sick. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer, refused treatment and went home to die. He made it through Christmas 1967, but died shortly afterward at the age of 56, just over a year after the death of Travis.

Genene Jones, high school yearbook photo, 1968
Genene Jones, high
school yearbook
photo, 1968

Genene was devastated and, though she hadn't yet finished high school, believed that the remedy to her pain and loss was to get married right away. She and her mother fought over it and Gladys soon turned to the bottle, getting drunk frequently but refusing to give permission for Genene to marry. It was too soon after the family tragedies.

Finally when Genene graduated, she married a high school dropout, James "Jimmy" Harvey DeLany Jr. (Davis claims that she trapped this man into marrying her by pretending she was pregnant.) He, too, was overweight, and he cared only about hot rods. After seven months of marriage, he enlisted in the navy and Genene, who was reportedly voracious in her desire for sex, was immediately unfaithful. Intense and dramatic, she went after other men as if to fill the void left by her father's untimely death, and she bragged openly about it. She even had affairs with married men and she began to spread rumors that she had been sexually abused as a child.

She depended on her mother for money, so Gladys urged her to think about a career. With no real plans, Genene enrolled in beauty school. Jimmy returned from the navy and they had a child. After four years of marriage, she left her husband while he was recovering in the hospital from a boating accident. Her divorce papers indicated that he had been violent with her. They reconciled and then parted again for good.

Soon after, Genene's older brother died of cancer. It was yet another loss, and her developing fear of cancer from working with hair dyes made a career change necessary. She had worked in a hospital beauty salon, so it wasn't a far stretch to train as a nurse. She was also pregnant, so now she had two children to care for. Although she had wanted children all her life, she ended up leaving them in the care of her adoptive mother.

Genene had reserved her special ardor for doctors, seeing them as mysterious and powerful. She wanted to get near them, so she trained for a year to become a vocational nurse, and LVN or licensed vocational nurse. She was good at it, although she was not altogether happy about being at the bottom of the medical totem pole. Her interest in medicine began to take on mystical dimensions and, as acquaintances put it, she became obsessed with diagnosing people.

After only eight months at her first job at San Antonio's Methodist Hospital, she was fired, in part because she tried to make decisions in areas where she had no authority, and in part because she made rude demands on a patient who subsequently complained. It wasn't difficult for her to find another job, but she didn't last long in that one either. Eventually she was hired in the intensive care section of the pediatric unit of Bexar County Medical Center Hospital. It was here that she would leave her mark — a tragic one.

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