By several accounts, Genene Jones had a family and loved ones who cared about her.
But author Peter Elkind explains how Jones’ early life was pockmarked by death and misfortune along the way.
“She had a challenging childhood, there's no question about it. She had kind of a stormy early life. It obviously took on a different direction after she becomes a nurse and was suspected of harming kids under her care," Elkind said.
In researching his book, The Death Shift, Elkind wanted to learn more about Jones’ background.
He explained that she had three siblings, two brothers and a sister. All were adopted by their parents, Gladys and Dick Jones.
Her father owned a nightclub on Fredericksburg Road in San Antonio. Genene was very close with him, and they often spent time together there.
“Her father was sort of this swashbuckling character. He ran a place called the 'Kit Kat Club,' which was actually fairly close to where the Medical Center is now. He was a gambler. He ran nightclubs. He was just a larger-than-life character in San Antonio. He was kind of famous and infamous in certain quarters. He was in the news. He was a very colorful guy.
He sort of went through some boom and bust stuff of his own. Interesting guy. Interesting character. He was the sort of guy who attracted attention naturally, and Genene wanted to attract attention herself,” Elkind said.
He said one of Jones’ brothers was killed in a horrific accident while he was working on a pipe bomb in their father’s shop when she was just a teenager, and her other brother died of cancer. Cancer also later claimed her father’s life.
“She had a brother who blew himself up with a homemade bomb, another brother who died very young and she was very affected by her father's death," Elkind said.
Jones was also married after she graduated from high school to a man named Jim DeLany, whom she later divorced. At that time, Jones was working as a hairdresser. It was after her divorce that she first met Ron English.
“I said in the book that I was using a pseudonym for [English], Genene’s kids and Genene’s sister; only those four people. In the case of her kids, I didn’t think it was fair to tarnish them for the rest of their lives with that association. In the case of her sister, she, needless to say, didn’t want to be associated with Genene publicly.
The one I identified as Keith Martin, as I described, wrote letters to [Jones]. Of course, she corresponded with him. I have the letters. The reason I’m able to say his real name is because on the public radio show in San Antonio I was interviewed fairly recently for, this guy called in in the middle of the show," Elkind said.
“I think as Peter and I once talked about in the book, Genene had a hero complex, and I noticed that with her around the house. ‘Oh look what I did, I saved your dad,' and, 'Oh I saved my son.’ She wanted this type of narcissistic attention maybe is the word. I don’t know," English said on the radio show.
Naturally, we were curious to know more about English’s relationship with Genene and where he developed some of his opinions about her that seemed to be so far off from so many others.
“We had some time. She didn't have any appointments, so we got to talking. I was really fascinated by her. She had a really great personality. We got to ease up and know each other a little bit better. We started joking and laughing. I stayed there for three hours. The next thing I know, we'd arranged to go out for dinner that Saturday night. That's basically how I began to know Genene.
The relationship developed into just dating and finally into an engagement, and I was engaged to Genene for about two years after that. Genene has always had this dynamic personality. People liked her. She was very witty. She liked to tell jokes. She loved to go out, party, dance and have a good time. I never really, at that point, saw that there was anything other than someone who was a good person, loved kids and everything else. She had a 3-year-old boy at the time. Then things started developing differently," he said.