MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Alexis Jones McDaniel, the mother of murdered Northwest High School Student Jai’lyn Jones, describes her son as nurturing, wise, and a genius in his own right.

Jai’lyn went missing in January, three months shy of his 18th birthday. He was found days later dead in a creek with multiple stab wounds. Jai’lyn’s mom says what the killer did to her son was beyond murder.

“Head open so bad that they suggested that we have a closed casket, but I kept his casket open because I wanted people to see,” said Jones-McDaniel. “I wanted Jai’lyn’s death to sound the alarm. I wanted the way they left him. I didn’t want it to be covered.”

17-year-old Ta’Quawn Henderson and Jai’lyn’s Northwest High School classmate is charged with first-degree murder in connection to Jai’lyn’s death. Jai’lyn’s mom says she suspected Henderson was all along because Jai’lyn told his friends if something happened to him, that’s who did it.

“I don’t want another parent to have to get this news, and I don’t want to lose another child to the system either,” said Jones-McDaniel. “This child’s life is ruined because of his actions, so it’s a loss either way it goes. It’s a loss to the community when these people could have been productive members of society.”

Jai’lyn’s mother blames bullying and growing school gang violence for her son’s murder. She says Ja’ilyn was tormented every day and attacked once before. She says she met with northwest high school’s principal asking to transfer her son, but the day before that was set to happen, she got a knock at her door from homicide detectives 

“MCPS there’s things you just can’t you can’t bring him back,” said McDaniel-Jones “You can’t just say well, you know, sometimes we make mistakes, this was bigger than a mistake. It was a human life that we overlooked and we could have helped.”

Jai’lyn’s mom says the disturbing trend of murders involving teens under 18 starts at home.  She advocates for more services and mental health support to help parents, so other families don’t experience the same pain. 

“Make this a county for families again because when I moved here 17 years ago, this was a county for families; today, it doesn’t feel like that. but we can get back there.”

Henderson is being held without bond and expected back in court next week. After his arrest, northwest high school’s principal sent a letter to families saying there would be mental health support for students and a community meeting soon.