Woman charged with murdering boyfriend now facing child endangerment charges

A woman previously charged with second-degree murder in connection to the fatal shooting of her boyfriend in Minneapolis has now been charged with child endangerment after both she and her baby tested positive for illegal substances. 

Vivian Jones, 39, was charged with second-degree manslaughter and intentional murder in July 2020, but is now also facing one count of child endangerment after events that happened while out on release.

According to criminal complaints, at about 7:50 p.m. on July 31, 2020, police responded to a report of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the 4000 Block of Humboldt Avenue North. When they arrived, officers found a man in his 40s dead from a gunshot wound.

Jones reportedly told police the victim shot himself in the head, and she did not know where the gun was, according to charges. She said she and the victim had gotten into a fight after he crashed her car earlier in the day, and she had locked him out of the house, but he forced his way in.

According to the complaint, Jones then told police she went into a bedroom and "was followed by the victim who held the gun to his head saying he was 'tired' and had 'nothing left.' Jones said that she grabbed the magazine from the gun, but the victim shot himself in the head. She also stated to officers that she 'could’ve' placed the gun in the nightstand, which is where it was subsequently found."

When the medical examiner’s staff examined the victim’s body, they noted a gunshot wound to the back of his upper thigh.

A neighbor told police they saw the victim walking outside the house when the "crack" of a gunshot was heard, followed by the victim limping back toward the house. Jones later admitted to police she shot the victim in the leg, charges state.

New child endangerment charges

Jones was out on a $700,000 conditional release as the murder case progressed toward trial in December 2022. One of her conditions was testing negative for illegal substances.

While out on bail Jones gave birth to a child in April 2021, who subsequently tested positive for cocaine and other drugs at the time of birth – indicating he was exposed to substances in utero, according to court documents.

Then on July 6, 2022, Minneapolis Police Officers responded to the report of a 1-year-old baby who was not breathing with blue lips at 4000 Block of Humboldt Avenue North in Minneapolis. Upon arrival, officers found the child who was unconscious, had no pulse, and was not breathing, according to charges. 

At the scene, officers spoke to Jones, who stated she had gone outside for a smoke when her child had crawled over to the door and laid down. She then noticed that his lips were blue, he was not breathing, and called 911. 

Officers began CPR, and transported the child to the hospital where he was given Narcan, which helped stabilize his breathing. An initial urine test showed positive for cocaine, and later tests showed positive for cocaine and fentanyl, according to charges. 

Based on the tests, child’s symptoms and response to Narcan, medical professionals noted there was no other explanation than he ingested controlled substances, and there was "zero medical question" he had overdosed on narcotics.

In later conversations Jones claimed the child, "must have put something in his mouth," and denied he would have access to controlled substances, stating, "No substances had been proven to be in his body, and that the doctors gave [him] fentanyl and were trying to cover it up."

On July 8, 2022, Jones’ conditional release officer requested a urine test to check for the presence of cocaine and opiates, but she failed to provide a sample until July 11, 2022 – three days after the request and five days after the incident, according to court documents.

Delay in providing a urine sample can often result in missing the period during which certain drugs may be present, and the state has argued her refusal to test was intentional and a willful disregard of court orders.

The new charges allege  Jones’ child has now tested positive for illicit substances on two occasions, and she has failed to follow through with the conditions of her release for the previous murder charges. 

As a result, the state has significant concerns for the child's health, safety, and wellbeing, as well last, significant concerns about Jones' lack of compliance with court orders, the complaint says.