Now pregnant and living with her mom in College Park, Ga., Horton said, she keeps an eye out for Jones when she’s back in Lawrenceville, hoping she’ll catch a glimpse of him and see that he is still alive and well.
But she will never get the image of the last night she saw him in 2016 out of her mind.
That brisk fall evening started like so many others for the couple. Around 9 p.m., Horton’s doting live-in boyfriend borrowed a friend’s car and picked her up at work, a nearby Papa John’s.
They were high school friends-turned sweethearts and had been dating for about six months.
“He was just a sweet person all around. He was very soft-spoken. He was a very, very caring person. He was a very genuine person,” she reminisced.
But that night, his behavior would not reflect anything like her portrayal of him, and would alter both of their lives forever.
Wearing only a pair of shorts, Jones pulls into the pizzeria’s parking lot to pick up Horton from her second shift. He gets out of the car and opens the passenger-side door for his girlfriend.
Everything seems fine.
As the pair drives down Old Norcross, Jones begins talking to her, but insists that she look directly into his eyes from the passenger seat.
“Look at me while you’re talking to me,” he says sternly.
Shocked, because he’s never spoken to her like that before, she looks at him. But as she looks away, he becomes agitated.
“Look at me. I’m fine. I can drive and talk to you at the same time,” he tells her, but his temper is beginning to escalate when she disagrees with him.
“No, you can’t,” she argues.
They quarrel back and forth, as they pull into the apartment complex where they share a home—about 10 minutes from Papa John’s.
He parks the car and tugs on Horton, trying to pull her over the console of the car to the driver’s side seat—keeping her from exiting the now-parked car.
“What are you doing? Let me go. I’m trying to get out of the car. What’s wrong with you?” she questions him.
As a struggle ensues, she fights her way off him and gets out of the car, somewhat unscathed.
She runs full force up the stairs, but he quickly catches her and throws her over his shoulder, carrying her into the second-floor apartment.
Horton knows something is not right—he’s not in his right mind.
“What’s going on? What’s wrong with you?” she begs him to answer her.
She knows that he has tried acid and believes he might be on it now.
“Are you tripping right now? What’s going on with you?” again, she questions him.
He slings her onto the couch.
“Tell me that you’re not afraid of anyone but God and your mom. Because I’m not afraid of anyone but God and my mom!” he shouts at her.
“What are you talking about?” she asks.
“My mother’s a God, and I’m not afraid of anything,” he tells her.
So, she gives in, hoping her words will calm him down.
“OK, I’m not afraid of anyone but God and my mom.”
But it’s moot.
“No, you’re lying,” he rebuts.
Horton looks at her boyfriend who’s towering over her and realizes that he isn’t looking at her as her. It’s as if his mind has shifted and he’s yelling at her but his intentions are for someone else, maybe himself. In her mind, that means nothing she says in that moment is going to halt his rage.
He begins choking her on the couch, as she struggles to break free from his clutch.
“Please, let me go. Let me go. I can’t breathe,” she pleads with him.
But he doesn’t let up and smacks her in the face.
“I’m afraid, please let me go. I will leave—just let me go!”
She fights him off her and makes her way to the T.V., stand near the door. She pushes the T.V., against him, trying to barricade him from her.
He screams at her.
“Get out! Get out!”
Already on her way out the door, he grabs her again and pushes her to the ground, choking her.
In a complete frenzy, her adrenaline kicks in and she breaks away, running out the door.
She scurries down the staircase and quickly looks for a place to hide, while dialing 911.
She’s out of breath and sobbing.
911: Gwinnett County 911, what’s going on there?
911: Where are you, ma’am?
Horton: I’m at 1595 Old Norcross Road.
911: OK, calm down so I can understand you… Why are you crying?
Horton: Because my boyfriend and I just got into an argument and he’s going f—ing crazy right now. I don’t know what’s wrong with him.
911: What exactly is he doing?
Horton: He’s grabbing me… f—ing holding me down, trying to tell me to open my mind. He keeps telling me that the devil has taken over me. I’m like, ‘What the f— are you talking about?’ He’s holding me down–but he’s literally holding me down.
911: OK, where is he now?
Horton: He’s upstairs. He’s taking all of my shit out of the house, telling me that I need to get out because I’m trying to protect myself, and I’m f—ing scared.
911: Quit yelling, OK? Take a deep breath for me. Can you make yourself safe and go into another room?
Horton: I’m outside! I can’t go back in there. He’s going crazy!
911: When you say he’s going ‘crazy,’ what exactly is he doing?
Horton: I don’t know what’s wrong with him! He’s hitting me; he’s grabbing me. He keeps holding me down like something was wrong with him. I keep telling him to let me go ’cause I can’t breathe and he keeps holding me down… like he doesn’t care.
911: OK, what does he look like? Black, white, Hispanic, Asian?
Horton: He’s black and he’s tall.
911: What’s his name?
Horton: DeCorrius Jones.
She tries catching her breath in between sobs and sniffles.
911: OK, he’s in the house now?
911: Can you get into a car or hide somewhere?
Horton: No, I’m sitting outside. He hasn’t come out here yet…
911: What’s your name?
911: What’s your last name, Deona?
Horton: Horton. H-O-R-T-O-N.
A police car drives past the apartment, but Horton doesn’t flag them down, fearing Jones will see her and come after her again.
Still hiding, with a fat lip from the altercation, Horton calls Jones’ mom, Shacora Jones, who lives about five minutes away.
“He’s not in his right mind right now,” she tells his mom. “He just went off on me. We just got into an argument. He was hitting me.”
She warned him, “You don’t need to fool with that, because No. 1, you don’t know what to take. This stuff affects people differently.”
He told her that acid was opening his mind and he could see everything clearly.
“He wasn’t acting any kind of erratic or violent or aggressive behavior. He was just talking like his mind had just been opened up,” Shacora recalled.
But that would change that same day.
“I never thought it would go this far,” she said.
01 / 04
Shacora arrives at the apartment where her son is still livid, and now, downstairs. She tells a terrified Horton to go sit in her car while she talks to DeCorrius inside.
He rushes to his mom.
“Mom, don’t listen to her. She’s the devil! She’s the devil! She’s the devil!”
Shaking and scared, Horton goes to Shacora’s car—still in disbelief that her gentle, kind boyfriend would ever lay his hands on her.
While she sits in the car, she fears for his mom’s safety, knowing now what he’s capable of.
About 10 minutes pass and she leaves the car.
She knocks on the door.
Shacora opens the door and instructs her to stay outside and sit on the stairs.
While sitting on the steps she can hear them shouting at each other. She wants to open the door to help, but she fears what will happen.
“DeCorrius, I thought you would never hurt me! I thought you would never hurt me! Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this?”
Horton overhears his mom’s screams through the closed door.
Inside, DeCorrius is holding his mom down, trying to pour acid into her mouth.
Holton can no longer hold back her compulsion to break through the door.
She sees DeCorrius holding his mom down on the ground—his knee is in her neck and he’s viciously choking her.
“What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing!?” Horton screams at him.
As DeCorrius turns to look at Horton, he lunges at her.
She sees nothing short of an inhuman presence come over him.
And she runs.
In tears, she flies down the back staircase to the second set of apartments, and hides under the staircase. After a minute, she runs again, this time to the other side of the apartments and cowers in the shrubbery, and calls her mom.
DeCorrius runs out of the apartment, down the stairs and into the vast woods behind the apartments.
Horton makes a second call to 911.
911: Gwinnett County 911…
Horton: Yes, I need a police to, um, 5… 1595 Old Norcross Road, please.
Horton: You guys just came here… Hello?
911: Yes, what happened?
Horton: Um, I just need someone here. I’ll explain when you guys get here. But, I need someone here, like ASAP.
911: We need to know why they are coming back out.
Horton: I couldn’t get any contact with my phone right now, but he’s going crazy! He just tried to suffocate his mama. I don’t have time to explain! I need someone to come out here now. Like, now!
911: OK, ma’am, I understand that, OK? But I need to know what’s going on. Why they’re actually coming back out.
Horton: I need someone here now! Like, right now!