ST. LOUIS – A 29-year-old Northwoods, Missouri man was sentenced Wednesday to 45 years in federal prison for the 2019 fatal carjacking of a nursing student.

A federal grand jury indicted Anthony Jones Jr. in July 2020 on felony charges of carjacking resulting in death, discharge of a firearm during a violent crime resulting in death, and two counts of witness tampering. Jones pleaded guilty to those charges in December 2021.

According to court documents, the body of Jessica Vinson was discovered in the early morning hours of May 4, 2019, in an alley behind the 5300 block of Vernon Avenue in St. Louis City. She’d been shot multiple times and her car, a 2015 Dodge Charger, was missing. Her home in the 4300 block of Maffitt Ave. had been burglarized.

Two days later, St. Louis police officers found Vinson’s Charger and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. The driver refused to pull over and attempted to flee before crashing near an exit ramp at Interstate 70 and Grand Ave. The driver, later identified as Jones Jr., ran away but was eventually found and arrested. Police recovered a pistol from the stolen Charger.

The police lab identified Jones’ DNA on items inside the vehicle. Blood found in the car matched the victim’s DNA as well.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Missouri said Jones admitted to meeting Vinson outside a nightclub in St. Louis. Jones befriended her and drove Vinson’s car to the alley behind Vernon Avenue. He shot Vinson while she was in the car, pulled her from the vehicle, and shot her once more before driving away.

Jones gave Vinson’s house key to a co-conspirator, who then robbed her home.

Investigators later discovered that Jones—after his arrest—sent death threats to two witnesses to intimidate them from cooperating with authorities.

Two others involved in the carjacking were sentenced to prison in January. Robyn Harrison, who helped clean Vinson’s car after the crime, was sentenced to more than two years in prison. Tyeishia Adail, who replaced Vinson’s license plates with temporary tags, received a four-year sentence.