Woman gets 20 years for murder

Court adds four months for max penalty

PORT ANGELES — A Sequim woman accused of killing the daughter of a deceased man for whom she had been a caregiver was sentenced to the maximum allowed under state law for second-degree murder.

Aline Jones, 44, was sentenced to 20 years and four months in prison on Tuesday in Clallam County Superior Court after Judge Simon Barnhart rejected a plea deal that offered four fewer months.

“There’s a particular kind of evil present here that I have not seen,” Barnhart said. “Murder is an inherently evil act and the Legislature recognized that in establishing the sentencing range. But something callous and cold and heartless on display today.

“This was an act of pure evil. Although court can only add four months, I believe it’s important to recognize the depth and the scope of the evil we’ve had to experience,” he said.

Jones pleaded guilty March 26 to the second-degree murder of Susan M. Ferrel, 65, of Nevada with a deadly weapon enhancement. The standard range for the murder plus the enhancement under the state’s Sentencing Reform Act is 12 years and three months to 20 years and four months, plus three years of community custody. The Sentencing Reform Act is a 1984 law intended to standardize prison sentences and motivate rehabilitation.

The prosecution and defense had negotiated 20 years with credit for time served. But Barnhart added the four months after hearing victim statements in court that were almost Shakespearean in their eloquence and dripping with venom.

Fifteen victim statements were submitted to the court from family, friends and co-workers in addition to the six people, including family members, who spoke in court. They described Jones as “an evil, hateful, cruel monster;” “a heartless, selfish murderer;” “a liar, cheater, manipulator and abuser and now a murderer;” and “subhuman.”

They also expressed outrage at Jones’ actions and attitude immediately after the murder as well as during the ensuing investigation and court proceedings.

Those included smirking to her attorney that she understood English (a Portuguese translator was deemed necessary in court proceedings), desecrating the body (dragging the body out of the house and rolling it off a roof), going to a casino after the murder and repeatedly lying to police and investigators.

“I will wonder for the rest of my life why you chose to brutally murder my mother,” said Deborah Ferrel, Susan’s daughter. “What do I say to the monster who tried to cover her crime by desecrating my mother’s body? I hope it becomes a nightmare you can’t escape.

“I lost 15 pounds in a week and a half (and 40 pounds in six months) and threw up wondering what had happened to her. It is sickening and truly demented to hear you describe how you could hear her skull cracking,” she said.

Phil Tignino, Susan’s son-in-law, said he hates Jones and “anyone who can bring themselves to love you.”

“Susie was so much better than you and even your children will learn that,” Tignino said. “She was left to die in the dark. Susie is dead, beaten to death by Aline. Imagine the fear and pain she went through.”

Shannon Vega, Susan’s nice, said she belongs to a large family with many friends.

“We will feel that pain for every wedding and birthday she will not be there,” Vega said. “She still would be missed so greatly if she had died of disease or even a freak accident, but that’s not how we lost her, so the anger and suffering is much worse. She was taken from us violently and before her time is what makes it worse.

“Aunt Susie is not a person to put another person in another difficult situation. I don’t know how one forgives oneself for such a terrible act. This family is strong and these heinous acts will not define us.”

Ferrel’s body was found Oct. 26 at a Diamond Point home that belonged to her late father, Raymond Rhodes, the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said.

Jones had worked as a caretaker for Rhodes, who died Oct. 14 at 93, and she continued living in the home after he died, according to the probable cause statement.

Jones spontaneously stated to a responding deputy that she and Susan got into a “bad fight.” She said Susan had discovered documents regarding the house in Raymond’s belongings. Jones said during the fight that she had killed Susan with a hammer, according to the probable cause statement.

Jones then went to work, returned to the house and cut the will and house deed into tiny pieces, the probable cause statement said.

Then she took a rental car, drove west from Diamond Point Road toward Sequim and threw the double-bagged hammer and screwdriver and the shredded documents along U.S. Highway 101 before abandoning the car. She later disposed of Ferrel’s purse and car key fob, the probable cause statement said.

After Jones returned to the house, she dragged Ferrel’s body out of the house and rolled it off the roof, then put a concrete block near the body’s head to make it appear as though Ferrel had fallen off the elevated patio, the probable cause statement said.


Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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