VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Clayton Jones wanted nothing more than to be a crimefighter. In late March, the 4-year-old became the newest member of the Vancouver Police Department.
Clayton was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor in November 2017. He connected with the police department through the Make-A-Wish Foundation in December — which led to his being sworn in as an officer.
His medical treatment didn’t work. For the last month his family stayed at his side at Community Home Health and Hospice in the Salmon Creek area. His parents, Taylor and Ryan Jones, said everyone there was wonderful.
Clayton died July 5. Two nights before that, though, his parents accidentally left their car window rolled down in the parking lot. Thieves took everything from their glovebox, including their 1-year-old daughter’s newborn footprints.
“It was my fault for leaving stuff in the car, but her, like, newborn footprints were still in the glove box,” Taylor Jones said. “It’s like, what are you going to do with that? You know, now I don’t have them but someone does.”
The footprints of baby Pyperann were on a pink card that they got at the hospital. They doubt they’ll ever get that card back — but it would mean a lot if somehow that happened.
Beyond Pyperann’s footprints, the thieves got their car’s paperwork, a few bills and $15.
Taylor said she hopes the thieves were just teenagers “that thought there were going to get a good hit and they didn’t. They probably just got a couple of my bills, even. They didn’t get anything good for them but they definitely got peace of mind from me.”
‘I love my brother’
Clayton was friendly, outgoing and loved by everyone who met him. His family said cancer didn’t win — Clayton did, because he was so beloved.
“I learned everything from him, just, like, how to appreciate life more and that you really don’t know how much time you have,” his mom told KOIN 6 News. “That even through, like, bad situations you can find good and you can get through it.”
When he was sworn in as a police officer there was “pure joy” on his face, she said.
“They swore him in as an actual police officer, which was great because he had a really good job,” she said. “They just had so many people come and show support for us and him, and everytime he’d see them anywhere he’d say, ‘Those are my cops.’ It was great.”
When he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in November 2017, doctors told the family Clayton likely wouldn’t beat it.
“But we had to try,” she said.
He underwent surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, but nothing really worked.
The last 6 weeks of his life, Clayton stayed at Community Home Health and Hospice and his mom stayed with him.
Everyone there was “great. All the nurses there, you have to be a special kind of person to work there.”
Shortly before he died, Clayton sat in his dad’s lap and “drove” the car around the parking lot.
“He had a good time that day. That’s like what we did. We tried to make each day as best as we could until we couldn’t anymore.”
Clayton has 4 siblings, including his 9-year-old brother Milez, who is deaf. While KOIN 6 News visited the Jones family, Milez used sign language for a message.
“He just wanted to say ‘I love my brother. I miss him, too.'”
Taylor Jones takes comfort in one thing: “Just knowing he doesn’t hurt anymore.”