“After the Uprising,”: Danyé Jones’ Phone Leads to Shocking Revelations

The destruction of the bedsheet by which Danyé Jones was hanged was a devastating blow to the investigation conducted by his family. Though many questions still remained as to the propriety of the St. Louis County Police’s handling of the evidence, those would be put on hold as a new hope arose from an unlikely place: Texas.

Danyé’s phone was sent to a data extraction company based in the Lone Star State, and against all odds the specialists were able to unlock his device in late 2020 and shed new light on Danyé’s whereabouts, his relationships, and his state of mind in the weeks leading up to his death.

One motive put out there to bolster the theory that Danyé had died by suicide revolved around his real estate business. The police and medical examiner’s office seemingly interpreted statements made by Danyé’s family on the morning he was found as leading them to believe that his business wasn’t doing well. They then surmised that this contributed to undiagnosed depression that caused the young man to take his own life.

And indeed, the opening of his cell phone led to communications with two of Danyé’s potential clients, revealing that they were unsatisfied with his business conduct, though others spoke of his drive and determination to succeed in the real estate business and vouched for his character. Regardless of how well he was doing or how seriously he was taking his new venture, it seems like a stretch that he would be suicidally despondent after a mere three months in the game.

Another curious interaction found on Danyé’s phone involved a discussion around sending someone money and asking them to “turn it back on.” Upon investigation, this person turned out to be Danyé’s car dealer. Danyé had purchased a used Lexus from the man, which came equipped with a GPS kill switch to render it inoperable in the event of missed payments. Danyé was indeed behind, which explains why his car was inoperable on the week of his death.

Danyé purchased the vehicle in Boise, during a brief period when he’d moved to Idaho in 2017. He fell in love with the state’s sprawling vistas, but was troubled by multiple instances of explicit racism he experienced in the rural culture. He told family that his car was frequently pulled over by police, he suffered racial slurs, and he was even arrested on possession of marijuana charges which were later dismissed.

Danyé’s ex-girlfriend Dasha asserts that his time in Idaho ended after she convinced him to return to St. Louis for a visit. His mother Melissa says he returned immediately after his younger brother got into a car accident. Whatever the case, in early 2018 he drove back in his new Lexus, moved in with his mother and step-father, and began discussing the real estate business with his uncle Daniel.

Conversations around this time also offer an explanation for the “sorry sis” text message discussed in a previous article. Instead of a final goodbye to his beloved sister, texts appear to indicate that he was simply apologizing for ignoring her and her son while preoccupied over a minor spat with his brother.

Unfortunately, Danyé’s phone did not have cell service during his final weeks and only worked on wifi, which makes it difficult to compile an accurate record of his movements, though movement data did indicate that he had headed in the direction of a neighborhood house where his friend Rich Trell was staying. Trell had texted Danyé that day about some cannabis he had acquired. In conversation with the podcast investigators, Trell indicated that they had hung out a couple of days before his death, but not on the night in question. Once again, it appeared to be a dead end.

Another revelation from Danyé’s text messages involved a mysterious event around September 13th, one which left Danyé extremely upset and possibly seeking revenge on someone. He talks to friends about finding out information on a man named Marcell and speculating that he may soon need to go into hiding for a while.

Marcell allegedly shot at Danyé’s best friend Damon while he was hanging out with Danyé’s younger brother Javon on September 12th of 2018. Danyé was understandably furious, and Melissa believes that in his texts he was most likely asking Dasha for help acquiring a gun. According to Melissa, Marcell was in police custody six days after the shooting, but Danyé was insistent that no one involved snitch, believing that it would make his younger brother a target.

No records could be found of Marcell being charged for shooting at Damon and Javon, which lends credence to Melissa’s belief that the authorities were not fully investigating incidents involving violence towards young Black men, or at least those connected to activism. Further, it seems likely that this shooting incident hung heavy over Danyé in the last weeks of his life, which could explain why some described him as anxious and paranoid.

So, Danyé was struggling in his business, behind on his car payments, and worried about violence against his younger brother. Still, he had plenty to look forward to in life. Danyé’s texts largely serve to paint the picture of a man excited about his business, his upcoming birthday, and his rekindling of a relationship with ex-girlfriend Loretha. They made plans to go out to eat, and on the morning of the last day of his life, he texted her: “Good morning beautiful.”

It’s still unknown whether they spoke on the phone that day, or if Loretha was the mysterious individual who Danyé went to see on the night of his death. The letter she provided journalists failed to clarify this explicitly. What is clear from the phone records is that nothing revealed any indication of suicidal intent-- except for one item in his YouTube search history.

Exploring Danyé’s YouTube searches revealed his interests in music, cars, and real estate, but it also showed a single search that took place on the evening of the last day of his life, when the following was typed into his YouTube account: “how to tie a hangman’s noose with a blanket.”

Does this scuttle any notion that Danyé didn’t hang himself? Is this the silver bullet that proves once and for all that County investigators, despite apparent flaws and biases, got the answer right? Or is there something more to it? In our next article, we explore what this search input really means to the death of Danyé Jones.

For more in-depth analysis of the information unlocked from Danyé’s phone, be sure to check out the eighth episode of the ‘After the Uprising’ podcast, and follow ‘After the Uprising’ on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for further updates and insights on Danyé’s story.