BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A woman accused of fatally stabbing her 73-year-old neighbor admitted to having a long-term addiction to pills and her 3-year-old daughter died from a fentanyl overdose a month before the killing, say newly released court documents.
Cherice Monique Jones, 47, has pleaded not guilty to murder and arson in the death of Rosie Lee Howard last year at Howard’s home in southeast Bakersfield. It’s alleged she set the home on fire after stabbing Howard.
Jones, a former probation officer, wasn’t charged until June but law enforcement removed another child from her custody last year, according to the documents filed by sheriff’s investigators.
Jones’ daughter, whose name is redacted, had a high percentage of fentanyl in her system when admitted to the hospital before her death in November. The documents don’t reveal how she came into contact with the drug.
The filings say Jones admitted to abusing prescription drug medication. She said she was a past victim of domestic violence and the pills made her feel better.
“People have no idea what I dealt with,” the documents say she told investigators.
Jones said she resigned from the Kern County Probation Department in 2020 after she was accused of damaging property, the documents say. She worked there 17 years.
“Jones did not believe her pill addiction contributed to the problems she had at work,” an investigator wrote. “Jones said when she was at the worst point, she was taking 5 or 6 Norco a day.”
The body of Howard was found Dec. 10 as firefighters doused a blaze at her home in the 1500 block of Cheatham Avenue, near Cottonwood Road. She suffered stab wounds to the neck, face and head, the documents say.
Several family members identified Jones as a suspect. One told investigators she saw Jones leaving Howard’s home shortly before smoke began pouring from the residence.
There was a physical altercation at the scene between Jones and an adult daughter of Howard and both women were briefly detained.
Jones yelled her 4-year-old daughter was in Howard’s home but deputies didn’t find her, the filings say. They then searched Jones’ home.
A strong smell of bleach came from the kitchen, where water covered the floor, the filings say.
Deputies found the child hiding in a bedroom, according to the documents. She was placed in protective custody.
There were several cuts and a 1-inch blister on Jones’ fingers, an investigator wrote in the documents. She told him the injuries were from the fight with Howard’s daughter.
The daughter told investigators Howard loaned money to Jones in the past.
Jones has a hearing scheduled Thursday.