Carbon monoxide suspected in Russell Boulevard fatalities

Saturday, August 20, 2011 | 7:22 p.m. CDT; updated 1:18 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 22, 2011

COLUMBIA – Police found the bodies of William "Mack" Jones and his wife, Ruth Ann Jones, in their home Thursday morning. Fire Department Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said their house contained high levels of carbon monoxide.

At 11:41 a.m., Columbia firefighters responded to a reported natural gas leak at 209 Russell Blvd. Ameren personnel were also dispatched to the scene. However, firefighters using a gas monitor found “extremely high” levels of carbon monoxide instead of natural gas, Sapp said. As a result, Sapp said, the Ameren personnel didn’t take action.

Natural gas is commonly used for heating homes and cooking. Sapp said carbon monoxide is a byproduct generated by machines that run on fossil fuel, such as cars and electric generators.

Sapp said he could not identify the cause of the carbon monoxide in the home.

Their obituaries are here:
Ruth Ann:

If you have memories of Mack and Ruth Ann, the Missourian would love to hear them. We invite you to comment below, or to email us at

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Mike Bellman August 21, 2011 | 6:31 p.m.

Mac Jones was an amazing person. I only met him over the years when called me over to repair minor computer problems. It was always a delight to go and visit while we talking about his family, their music and lives.

He will be missed by many.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer August 22, 2011 | 3:24 p.m.

Mike, thanks so much for your comment. We're hoping to hear from more people who remember Mack and Ruth Ann.
— Joy Mayer, Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer August 23, 2011 | 9:00 a.m.

Posted on behalf of Susan Leddick:

No one who took his Shakespeare class ever forgot Mac Jones' gangly impersonations of the nurse in Romeo and Juliet or Bottom's braying in A Midsummer Night's Dream. I was in Mac's classes, worked with him on student-faculty committees, and enjoyed his mentorship during my years as an undergrad at Mizzou in 1966-70. When my husband Jack came to visit Columbia from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in my senior year, Mac ungracefully clambered over rows of seats--in the middle of the lecture hall--to shake hands. With his wide grin he demanded to know "Is this him? Is this him?" There must be a thousand stories like this that show Mac was a caring human being and a gifted teacher. The loss of Mac Jones and his wife of so many years from such a needless accident is no less than a tragedy.

— Dr. Susan (Price) Leddick, BS Ed., 1970

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer August 24, 2011 | 6:56 a.m.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Marjorie S. Roberts, Mary Jo Roberts and Merlin Wood:

Mac & Ruth Ann Jones were as my mother Marjorie Roberts said to the Tribune reporter who called, the perfect couple both in their looks & personalities.

My mother had Mac as a student when she was getting her doctorate degree and she & my father got to know Mac & Ruth Ann from church, besides Mother's class. They enjoyed both -- so it was a shock to learn of their deaths.

I was also lucky to have had a course under Mac when I was at MU & my mother had just gotten her doctorate after my father, J. Frank Roberts had received his. Mac was well known for being the most popular teacher in the English Dept.

Mac always had a smile on his face & had that warm Southern way. I remember that he was thoughtful enough to bring me a start of a flower that he had gotten at his Mother's in AL as he knew I loved gardening.

It was a double flowered variety that was still "new" up here -- a small gesture, but it is the small ones we always remember.

Our thoughts go out to their 3 "cherished" daughters & their families.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer August 26, 2011 | 9:37 p.m.

Posted on behalf of Rev. Catherine Tyndall Boyd, BJ 1980:

I have schlepped my 15-lb. "Riverside Shakespere" around on every move I have made since graduating from Mizzou 30 years ago. Dr. Jones brought the Bard to life. May he rest in peace.

(Report Comment)

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