The children’s father, Timothy Ray Jones Jr., 32, was in custody in Mississippi, where police stopped his blood-soaked Cadillac Escalade over the weekend, a prosecutor told NBC News.
"I know at this point that my children, that my grandchildren are in heaven," he said. "I don't want no one to think that my son is the animal that they're going to put him to be. Because there's something wrong with him. There's no way he could've did this in the right state of mind."
His son has not been charged in connection with the deaths of the children, who ranged in age from 1 to 8. He was being held on a charge of driving under the influence while the investigation continued, said Daniel Jones, the district attorney of Smith County, Mississippi.
The DA said it was likely he would be prosecuted in South Carolina, where he has already been charged with child neglect. He does not yet have a lawyer, the DA said.
“What we believe has occurred is he killed the children in South Carolina and drove to Alabama with them,” he said.
He said that the father, who was allegedly high on synthetic marijuana when he was detained in Mississippi, confessed and gave investigators the information that led them to the bodies in Alabama. Notes referring to violence against the children were also found, he said.
"I think he probably just went mad."
“I think he probably just went mad,” he said.
Timothy Jones Sr. said the last time anyone had seen his son at work or the children at school in Lexington County, South Carolina, was Aug. 28.
The six of them were supposed to travel to Mississippi for a family gathering on Labor Day weekend but never arrived, he said. He said that on Sept. 3, he made a missing persons report.
Meanwhile, the mother of the children also reported them missing on Sept. 3 after she could not reach her ex-husband, who had custody of the kids, according to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office.
Jones Jr. was not heard from until Sept. 6 when he was stopped at a checkpoint, where he encountered a sheriff’s deputy who “had been around long enough to know the smell of death,” the DA said. “He picked up on it immediately.”
The deputies opened the doors of the Escalade and “saw he had taken bleach and poured it all over the back of the Escalade,” the DA said. “You could tell where it bleached the carpet but the blood was still there and there were maggots. They took him into custody at that time and as he came off the synthetic marijuana he began to talk about what happened.”
Police searched all day Tuesday before they found the remains in the woods near Camden, Alabama around 4 p.m. The bodies will be brought back to South Carolina for identification and autopsies.
"Detectives will return Jones to Lexington County to face charges in connection with the disappearance of his five children," the Lexington County Sheriff said in a statement.
The elder Jones said his son had no history of violence or emotional problems. He had primary custody of the children after his divorce was finalized a year ago.
“He’s been a really good dad,” he said shortly before getting the tragic news from Alabama.