Chaney suspect pleads guilty in other murder
Naomi Chaney, in one of the last photos of her alive, ties a bundle of brush. One of two accused of the murder of theformer Miss Aqua Boom has pleaded guilty to killing another woman.
By Lew K. Cohn
One of the two men accused of killing former Miss Aqua Boom and Marble Falls High School graduate Naomi Ruth Chaney in New Mexico has pleaded guilty to another killing woman in California.
Clayton Vincent Jones pleaded guilty to one count of murder for shooting 39-year-old Shalon Gheen in Slab City, California, on April 29, 2016, during an argument and to two counts of assault with a weapon for shooting at two people who tried to come to her aid.
He was sentenced Dec. 8, 2016, to an aggregate term of 37 years to life in prison, which included 25 years to life for killing Gheen, an extra 10 years for the use of a firearm to commit the crime and then an extra year each for the assault charges.
Three months earlier, Jones allegedly killed Chaney near Taos, New Mexico, with help from another man, Albert Gene Hunsaker II, who had been in a sexual relationship with Chaney despite his being married. The two men allegedly left Chaney's body in the New Mexico desert, though authorities have not reported finding the woman's corpse yet.
Gheen and Chaney were friends on Facebook, though it is not clear what further connection the two women had. Gheen, who also lived at one time near Taos, is not believed to have been involved in Chaney's disappearance and murder herself, but Facebook posts from Gheen herself and others indicate she may have known about Chaney's murder and Jones' alleged involvement.
Shalon Gheen murder
Slab City, California, is the abandoned site of former World War II Marine barracks at Camp Dunlap, about 156 miles northeast of San Diego. This is a location frequented by “snowbirds” who camp there during cooler months as well as people who “live off the grid,” like Gheen, Jones and Chaney.
Gheen and Jones left together for Slab City from Taos, arriving in that area sometime on April 26. Gheen did not expect to stay there long; she told a friend she wanted to head to Pennsylvania to her hometown with Jones and see her family.
“Soon like by next weekend. My mom is trying to stop me but she can't. Anyhow Clay says we will and if not I'm getting a bus ticket .. but I want Clayton Vincent Jones to meet my daddy,” Gheen posted.
Three days later, though, Gheen and Jones had a loud verbal argument at Slab City. A couple told police they ran over to try to see what the argument was about and that Gheen had fired a gun at the ground near Jones during the argument. They tried to break up the argument, but Jones took a shotgun out his vehicle and fired at them, fortunately missing them as the volley whistled past, before he pointed the shotgun at Gheen and fired at her face, killing her instantly.
Jones left the scene in his vehicle and was chased by the couple. Deputies were called and they were able to catch Jones and arrest him before he left the Slab City area, charging him with murder and attempted murder, in addition to assault by firearm.
On May 1, there was a post placed on Shalon Gheen's Facebook wall by a man named Dave Johnson who claims she was like “a sister” to him.
“Shalon, I wished you had gone home first, sweetie. You might still be alive. I loved you very much and always will. Clayton Jones will never be a free man as long as there's a breath of air in me. You knew he was bad news when he told you he killed crazy Naomi,” Johnson posted.
That post actually took place a day before California police detective John Beltran called Jessie Whittaker of the New Mexico State Police to tell him of Jones' arrest and his confession to having murdered Naomi Chaney on Jan. 30, 2016, and leaving her body in sage brush near the Carson Estates and the Petaca River bed, according to an affidavit.
Even more prophetic is a Facebook post from Gheen on March 25, 2016, which may indicate she may have known something about Chaney's murder.
“Since im the only one that knows the truth i cannot kill myself. .. he wont kill me because he is in love with me. Only way to keep those I love safe is to kill you. Im watching .. im coming .. im sober .. thats what is dangerous. For my friend,” she posted.
Gheen's faith in the man who was “in love” with her sadly was not returned as that man, Jones, was responsible for her murder and now will serve time in prison for that crime. He eventually may face charges as well for Chaney's murder.
Naomi Chaney murder
Chaney, who was born Jan. 30, 1980, had been reported missing after last being seen near Twin Peaks, N.M., on Jan. 30, 2016, which was her 36th birthday. The New Mexico Department of Public Safety had been searching for her and had posted her photo online since February.
While being questioned by investigators in the Gheen killing, Jones admitted his involvement in killing Chaney on Jan. 30 near Carson Estates in New Mexico and also named Hunsaker as an accomplice in the crime.
Hunsaker was interviewed by New Mexico police on May 5 and told investigators he had been having a sexual relationship with Chaney despite being married to another woman. He said Jones and Chaney picked him up at his home to go for a ride.
According to statements given by Hunsaker, the trio had been drinking on a ridge near the Petaca River when Jones assaulted Chaney. He then put a winch wire around Chaney’s neck, had Hunsaker turn on the winch and then drove through the desert, dragging the woman to death. Hunsaker claims Jones threatened to kill his family if he refused to help him kill Chaney.
The two men dumped her body along the river in some brush and left. After being arrested by police, Hunsaker tried to lead them to Chaney’s body, but they were unable to locate it. He is being held in Taos County in lieu of $900,000 cash bond on charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.
Chaney, who was the 1997 Miss Aqua Boom in Kingsland, served in the U.S. Marine Corps after she graduated from Marble Falls High School in 1998, earning an honorable discharge.
Later she moved to New Mexico, where her father, Billy “Dusty” Chaney Jr. had lived before he moved back to Texas and passed away in October 2005.
On Dec. 5, 2015, Chaney indicated on Facebook that she was in a relationship. It is believed she was referring to Hunsaker.
Chaney indicated on Facebook posts that she was working on dealing with anger issues.
“Im actually working it .... Im finding out what triggers me ... and controlling my emotions has never been a piece of cake ....,” one post read.
“I know I spiral out of control sometimes … it worries me … im improving though … able to more stable for longer periods of rime and come our of anger more easily and quickly with less damage .... ” another post read.
One of her final Facebook posts was a photo of a meal she had made and she responded to the compliments she received from her friends.
“Im so thrilled to know that the move to Taos was so worth it four years ago,” she wrote.