We are super sorry to hear you had a loss.
If the aircraft was skipping images, that means that there was poor signal quality between the remote and the aircraft which is always a bad thing. You were right to summon the aircraft home. It sounds like there may have been interference in the area...
If you were below your designated Return To Home height when you pushed the Go Home button, it should ascend to that height and head for home. Also, the way we program the automated flight, it should return home upon mission completion. If the battery were to run out it should return too.
If you switched the aircraft out of F mode and took over manually, it might have hovered there for a while but should have come back when the battery died down.
We have had the signal drop out pretty frequently at our local testing field due to high levels of interference. It is never a good feeling, but the aircraft has always come home in this instance.
Is it possible that you took off before the green blinks that designate the Home Point being set? Map Pilot won't allow you to take off until there are 10 satellites locked and sets the Home Point for you but it sounds like there was a Home Point issue going on since it really should go home in all circumstances. In the presence of strong interference though all bets are off and the aircraft could potentially go anywhere... We work with a local power company and have seen some really strange behavior near power lines.
We ALWAYS recommend using a aircraft recovery device when doing automated flight missions. The Marco Polo is a cheap and effective way to recover your aircraft. We have had a couple of issues with planning missions too low and it has saved our bacon a number of times.
Again, sorry to hear about your loss.