Russell Todd Jones murdered roommate Dena Raley McCluskey and bragged about easy it was to get away with the crime

Mugshot of Russell Todd Jones
Russell Todd Jones eventually cracked under police questioning and admitted to murdering Dena Raley McCluskey. Pic credit: Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office

On October 13, 1999, Mark Keough reported his girlfriend, Dena Raley McCluskey, missing. The whereabouts of the Modesto, CA., resident then remained unknown for the following 8-years.

Investigators had been initially suspicious of boyfriend Keough; he had a history of assault and domestic violence against the victim. But they eventually turned their attention to the real murderer, her roommate, Russell Todd Jones.

The case had remained relatively cold for eight years until the police were prompted by a media inquiry about the case to have a closer look at Russell Jones.

Friends and neighbors reported how after a few beers Jones would talk about how easy it is to get away with murder. He would speak about using his father’s equipment “to make it quick and easy.”

Having denied any involvement in his roommate’s disappearance, Jones, under pressure from officers, told them that he had found her already dead at their shared home; he said she had been beaten about the head.

Jones then told investigators that he panicked. He was on parole and thought the police would accuse him of the crime, so he decided to bury her in a shallow grave on his parent’s property in a remote area of Tuolumne County.

Russell Todd Jones cracked under police questioning

Jones was correct; the police did accuse him of murder. After intensive questioning, he eventually confessed to punching Raley to death during an argument about a $20 bar tab.

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He told investigators that he had covered her body in tarpaulin and then doused her in gasoline to keep animals away from the body, and paced her in a three-foot grave. He claimed he checked on the grave annually to make sure it wasn’t disturbed.

After Jones had revealed the location of Raley McCluskey’s remains, authorities dug up her body for an autopsy; unfortunately, the body tissue had decomposed too much to allow for a cause of death to be determined.

In 2011 Jones was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to serve 11-years in prison. He was given credit for already serving four and a half years.

More from Betrayed

Follow the links to read about more horrific crimes profiled on Betrayed.

Donna Bocklet was killed by neighbor Anthony Libardi, a man she’d known almost all her life. When she rejected his sexual advances, he strangled the 41-year-old mother of two and left her remains in a supermarket parking lot. He then went on the run.

In a particularly horrific case, Carol Ege murdered her pregnant love rival Cindy Thompson by bludgeoning and stabbing her to death. Thompson’s boyfriend discovered her on the floor of her home with her organs lying beside her.

Catch this episode of Betrayed on Monday, April 20, at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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