Details of Disappearance
Jay-Quan was last seen at approximately 12:30 p.m. on April 22, 2004, at a strip mall in the 3000 block of Dunn Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida. He was accompanied by his mother, Lynda Jean Wilkes. A photograph of Wilkes is posted with this case summary.
John Franklin Mosley Jr., an acquaintance of Wilkes, says he took Jay-Quan and Wilkes for a drive that afternoon. A photograph of John is posted with this case summary. He says he drove them to see a house Wilkes wanted to buy, then dropped them off back at the shopping center after only a few minutes and went to work.
Jay-Quan and Wilkes have never been heard from again. Relatives reported their disappearances when Wilkes did not pick up some of her other children from school. Her car, a red Ford Escort, was found abandoned in the strip mall's parking lot.
Police considered Wilkes's and Jay-Quan's disappearances suspicious from the beginning, as Wilkes's relatives all said it was uncharacteristic of her to leave without warning, and she took no diapers or baby formula for Jay-Quan when they disappeared.
She had four other children besides Jay-Quan, and was employed as a bus attendant. In the aftermath of her disappearance, her oldest daughter assumed care over one of her younger sisters and Wilkes's two other children went to live with their father.
Two weeks after Wilkes and Jay-Quan disappeared, Wilkes's burned body was found in a remote wooded area on the property of a hunting club in Alachua County, Florida, fifty-five miles from Jacksonville. Police announced that Wilkes's death was a homicide and that they had reason to believe Jay-Quan had been murdered as well. His remains were not with his mother's.
John was arrested on an unrelated sex charge after Jay-Quan and Wilkes disappeared. While still in jail, on May 7, 2004, he was charged with two counts of murder in connection with Wilkes and Jay-Quan's cases. Another suspect, a 15-year-old middle school student named Bernard Deon Griffin, was also charged with being an accessory after the fact. He voluntarily came forward to authorities on April 28 and said he had helped dispose of the bodies, and he led them to Wilkes's corpse.
A photo of Bernard is posted with this case summary. John had once dated his older sister, Vicky. Vicky stated that John lied to her about his age and marital status while they were seeing each other. She described him as possessive and violent and claimed he told her he wanted to have a baby named Jay-Quan killed to get revenge on the child's mother.
Bernard told police he burned Wilkes's body and dumped it where it was found, and put Jay-Quan's body in a dumpster outside of Ocala, Florida. Police searched the Onyx Landfill in Valdosta, Georgia for Jay-Quan's body, but turned up no sign of it. Wilkes's blood was found in John's vehicle, however.
Although he and Wilkes had a sexual relationship and Jay-Quan bears his surname, John, who was married, said he wasn't the baby's father. A judge nevertheless had ordered him to make payments of $40 a week, or $2,080 a year, for Jay-Quan's support, pending a court hearing to establish paternity.
The prosecution suggested the motive for the murders was the child support payments: John knew he would be proven to be Jay-Quan's father and wanted to avoid the obligations associated with that.
John was tried in the fall of 2005. Bernard testified that he saw John strangle Wilkes with his bare hands. After she died, Bernard held a black plastic garbage bag open and John put Jay-Quan inside, and the baby suffocated. The defense called only two witnesses, John's wife and his mother.
In mid-November 2005, John was found guilty of the murders of Jay-Quan and Wilkes. The jury recommended that he be given life in prison for killing Wilkes and death for killing Jay-Quan, and he was formally sentenced in August 2006.
John maintains his innocence in Wilkes's murder and Jay-Quan's disappearance and stated he believed the baby was still alive and he was framed by racist police and prosecutors. The Florida Supreme Court turned down his appeal and affirmed his death sentence in 2010.
In exchange for his cooperation and testimony against John, Bernard was given probation for his role in the murders. However, in 2009, after his third probation violation, he was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Wilkes's other son was shot to death in 2010, at the age of seventeen. The killer, who was fourteen years old, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for second-degree murder. Jay-Quan has never been located, but foul play is suspected in his disappearance due to the circumstances involved.