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Court documents detail 1991 Cole County murder investigation

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jones' age at the time of his death has been corrected.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

Cole County Prosecutor Locke Thompson filed a first-degree murder charge Thursday against William "Chris" Niemet in the 1991 shooting death of 14-year-old Greg Jones.

First-Degree Murder Charge

Cole County charges Chris Niemet with 1991 murder on Feb. 27, 2020

The probable cause statement supporting the murder charge said, at the time of the murder, Niemet lived about a mile away from where Greg Jones' body was found on June 8, 1991.

The document said Niemet, who was 14 years old at the time, arrived home on a four-wheeler around 9 p.m. on April 24, 1991, about 30 minutes after two gunshots were heard in the area by Jones' father, brother and other neighbors.

A witness told police Niemet entered the home with what appeared to be blood on his clothes and that the teen immediately washed his clothes with bleach.

Soon after, the statement said a sheriff's deputy responded to Niemet's home as part of the search for Greg Jones, who had been reported missing.

The witness described Niemet's behavior while the deputy was at his home as "unusual."

The probable cause statement said investigators found tire tracks that matched Niemet's four-wheeler leading to the area where they would discover Jones' body.

Another witness claimed Niemet told them that Jones would, "soon go missing," and expressed an intent to kill Jones about two weeks prior to the murder.

Witnesses reported seeing Niemet with a pistol on the school bus in February 1991.

Upon learning that Niemet was a suspect in Jones' murder, one of his neighbors reported a handgun stolen, and that Niemet was at his home frequently in the months leading up to the murder.

The gun which was reported stolen was a Ruger Police Service Six .357 magnum revolver and capable of firing .38 wadcutter ammunition, the same type of ammo discovered in both Niemet's home and Jones' skull.

The probable cause statement said multiple witnesses have come forward over the course of the investigation, reporting that Niemet claimed responsibility for Jones' killing. The document doesn't specify when these witnesses came forward.

"This has been an ongoing investigation for us for about seven months," said Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler in a press conference Thursday. "We try to look at cold cases from time to time to see if any information can come up so that we can resolve them."

The probable cause statement does not cite any new evidence discovered in the last seven months.

Niemet is scheduled to be arraigned Monday at 1 p.m. in Cole County.

Niemet vs. Cole County

Chris Niemet sued the county and its sheriff in 1997 over his 1991 detention in the Jones investigation

Court documents said Niemet was detained by Cole County for four weeks in 1991, as a suspect in Jones' death.

In a 1997 lawsuit he filed in federal court, Niemet claimed the county and its sheriff, John Hemeyer, deprived him of his right to liberty and pursuit of happiness by detaining him from June 14 to July 12, 1991.

As a result, Niemet claimed he suffered depression, anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, anger and a lasting paranoia about government officials and law enforcement.

Niemet's attorneys requested $3 million in damages.

According to the county's response to Niemet's lawsuit, the juvenile division filed a charge of class C misdemeanor assault charge on June 17. One day later, the juvenile officer changed that to a class D felony unlawful use of a weapon charge.

Niemet filed a writ of Hebeas Corpus on June 27, 1991, which was denied.

On July 10, the juvenile officer issued a report saying he didn't have enough information to make a 'solid recommendation' to the court about Niemet's case.

Two days later, on July 12, 1991, Judge Byron Kinder ordered Niemet to be released.

Niemet's case against the county was eventually dismissed by the western district, citing a lack of evidence.

Thompson said in a press conference Thursday, advances in forensic technology and follow-up work from the Cole County Sheriff's Department led to the new charge.

Court records link Niemet to an unsolved Fulton murder in 2005.

ABC 17 News spoke to a childhood acquaintance of Niemet and Jones who described the pair as "friends."

Callaway / Cole / Columbia / Court and Trials / Crime / Fulton / Homicide / Jefferson City / Top Stories / Top Stories
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Joe McLean

Joe reports stories all across mid-Missouri, including our WasteBusters series of reports, and co-anchors ABC 17 News at 9 a.m. with Zara Barker.

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