The man on the telephone tells Jeff Jones that his son-in-law has just committed suicide, and though the body is gone, the man needs someone to get rid of all the blood.
“I’m sorry that you’re going through this,” Jones tells him.
Sitting behind his desk in his cluttered north Oklahoma City office, Jones, 54, of northwest Oklahoma City, tells the man he has to ask him a few questions and that some might be difficult to answer. How did his son-in-law kill himself? What kind of a weapon did he use? What were the injuries?
After he hangs up, Jones turns to his wife, Lori, 40, sitting at her own desk, and fills her in.
Within two hours, they arrive at the home, ready to go to work.
For many, being confronted with a room full of gore might make their stomach turn.
For Jeff and Lori Jones, it’s just another day on the job.
The Oklahoma City couple own Bio-Sheen, a company that specializes in cleaning up crime scenes.
“We’re just a different breed of cat,” said Jeff Jones, wearing his trademark cowboy vest, oversized belt buckle and cowboy boots. “Not to compare ourselves with those heroes, but it’s a different breed of cat that goes out and joins the Navy SEALs. It’s a different breed of guy that joins firefighters. We’re just different people.”
Crime scene cleanup is a nearly $400 million industry in the U.S., with about 560 businesses employing about 1,300 people, according to market research company IBISWorld.
Jeff and Lori Jones founded Bio-Sheen in 2008, shortly before getting married.
By then, Jeff Jones was a cleanup-industry veteran. In 1969, his father started a carpet-cleaning business. When a church friend asked Jones’ father to help clean up his son’s suicide, the elder Jones added crime-scene cleaning to his job description.
Young Jeff Jones begged to tag along with his dad. His dad relented. He cleaned his first suicide at age 13. His dad told him not to tell his mom. Jeff was hooked. He bragged to his schoolmates.
“They wanted to know all about it,” Jeff Jones said.
Today, Jones, a religious man who attends LifeChurch.tv, considers their work a ministry. He can’t do anything for the deceased, but he can do a lot for the people left behind. Every client is going through one of the most difficult times in their life. Jones tries to limit the pain.
At the victim’s house, emergency responders are finished. The victim, a married man in his mid-30s with two kids, had invited his parents and in-laws over to visit. While everyone chatted, the man walked into the master bedroom. The relatives heard a blast. The man had shot himself in the head with a shotgun.
The Joneses arrive and introduce themselves to the surviving family members. Jeff Jones asks where the suicide took place. The father-in-law walks toward the master bedroom, but Jones stops him.
“You don’t have to go back there,” Jones tells the man. “In fact, I’d prefer if you didn’t. I can find it.”
As much as possible, the Joneses try to shield family members of victims from any additional trauma.
A shotgun creates an enormous mess. In the bedroom, blood stains the tan carpet and is splattered on the walls and ceiling.
Jeff Jones assesses the scene, then leaves the room. He tells Lori what their dealing with, so she can mentally prepare.
They haul in specialized cleaning equipment. They suit up. Blue booties cover their feet. Next comes a blue hazmat suit that protects the wearer from blood-borne pathogens. In warm weather, the suit acts like a sauna, leaving wearers dripping in sweat. Each dons two pairs of disposable gloves followed by a pair of thicker purple gloves. They each pull on white protective masks that cover their nose and mouth and slip on goggles.
Before they begin to clean, they join hands and say a prayer.