State police charged an Augusta man with murder tonight in connection with the stabbing death of 24-year-old Jillian Jones.

Justin Pillsbury, 38, was taken into custody as he was being released from MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta, where he had been treated for what police described as self-inflicted stab wounds.

He was taken to the Kennebec County jail and is expected to make his first court appearance on Monday or Tuesday, according to a press release from Maine Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland.

On Wednesday, police were called to 32 Crosby St., where they found Jones dead and Pillsbury injured. Neighbors reported the couple had been fighting, but no one thought it was serious enough to call police.

On Friday, friends remembered Jones as a woman who was trying to better her life and the life of her daughter, Brooklyn. It was a simple dream, but it was all Jones wanted.

“She wanted Brooklyn to be happy,” said Jones’ lifelong friend, Kassandra Strickland of Richmond. “She wanted a life with her daughter.”

Two days after the murder, Jones’ friends were still coming to grips with the loss of the woman they say lived for her daughter and brought a smile to anyone who met her.

“There’s so many people that are hurting right now,” Strickland said. “We love her.”

Jones grew up in Bingham, graduating from Valley High School in 2008. Jones was studying to be a beautician in Waterville, state police said in a Thursday news release.

“She was so happy to be back in school,” Strickland said.

Jones made headlines in 2011 after she was arrested along with her then-boyfriend after Brooklyn, then 18 months old, swallowed cocaine.

In February 2012, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail after a conviction. Jones sobbed as she expressed her sorrow and shame during her sentencing. Her attorney, Sherry Tash, said at the time that Jones had sought counseling for substance abuse soon after.

There were setbacks on the road to recovery. Jones was back in court later in 2012 after Skowhegan Police found her in a parked car with alcohol on her breath and a marijuana pipe next to her. She was sentenced to another 33 days in jail. Family members continue to care for the child, police said this week.

“Jillian ended up moving in with me in 2011 after all that stuff happened,” said Jones’ friend, Leroy Brown, adding that since he met Jones in 2006, they’ve talked almost every day. “She made mistakes, just like everyone else has. I helped give her the confidence that she was an independent person. She was on a road to gain control of her life.”

Friends say Jones never wavered in her commitment to making the best future possible for Brooklyn and herself.

“She was a great person and a great mother,” Strickland said.

Jones was an optimistic about the future, according to Whitney Mayou, who met Jones in the fifth grade.

“She was fun, loving and always brought the best out of people,” Mayou said, adding that she and Jones were like sisters.

Jones wanted to work in the fashion industry and move to a big city, Mayou said.

“She wanted to do hair and makeup and dress people up,” she said. “Jillian always had a fashion sense about her. She always wanted to move out of Maine and get to a city full of life.”

Mayou last heard from Jones about two weeks ago, when Jones sent her a text message out of the blue.

“We haven’t seen each other in a while, but we’re the type of friends that can go months without talking and pick things up right where they left off,” Mayou said. “She texted me saying that she loves me and misses me, and that we should get our little ones together for a playdate.”

Jones was also remembered Thursday afternoon by friends, family and co-workers at Empire Beauty School in Waterville. On the school’s Facebook page, a post about Jones was “liked” more than 100 times and commented on repeatedly, with people sharing their thoughts and sympathy.

“Today at Empire our day is heavy with broken hearts over the loss of a beautiful, caring, dynamic young lady,” the post read. “Her laughter, smiles and enlightening interactions in the class room and on our clinic floor will always live within our walls… We send our sincerest thoughts and hugs out to her family.”

The post got more than 20 comments as of Friday afternoon, with Jones’ brother, Jeremy, thanking everyone for the sentiments.

To benefit Jones’ daughter, Mayou set up a savings account at Skowhegan Savings Bank, where people can donate money for Brooklyn Jones. Checks can be made payable to Skowhegan Savings Bank.

Jones leaves behind parents, as well as three brothers, two sisters and a sister-in-law. Strickland said the entire town of Bingham, and the 17 other students who graduated with Jones from Valley High, have been leveled by the news of her death. Friends are organizing a candlelight vigil for Jones at 5 p.m. Sunday at Quimby Middle School. The public is invited.

“I will remember our childhood,” Strickland said. “We spent every single second together growing up. She’s what I remember.”

Morning Sentinel reporter Jesse Scardina contributed to this report.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642[email protected]