Jessica Stacks disappearance: a two-month follow up
Two months ago today – New Year’s Day – Jessica Stacks, age 28, of the Harmony Community in western Union County, was reported missing.
Stacks was said to have gotten into a boat on the flooded Tallahatchie River with Jerry Wayne Baggett, age 45, early that morning.
Baggett told law enforcement authorities that he and Stacks had put the motorless boat in the river at the County Road 46 bridge, about a mile south of Mississippi Highway 30.
Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said he was told that Willie Stinson, a Union County resident, helped Baggett and Stacks put the boat into the river.
According to Baggett, he and Stacks had been floating downstream only a short while when Stacks said she wanted to get out of the boat and walk out of the river bottom to Highway 30. Baggett said he let Stacks out of the boat on the right (north) bank of the river.
The river bottom was flooded at the time, and Stacks would have had to wade through flood waters to get to Highway 30.
Baggett said after letting Stacks out of the boat, he went on downstream some distance and got out of the river on the left bank.
Although Baggett said Stacks got out of the boat sometime Friday morning, it was 10:15 p.m. that night before she was reported missing.
The Union Sheriff’s Office and the 25-member Union County Search and Rescue Team started searching for her immediately.
During the two months since New Year’s Day, the search for Jessica Stacks has included not only Union County law enforcement and emergency personnel but many other resources:
- Drones with heat seeking cameras have searched the Tallahatchie River and nearby river bottom.
- Teams of trained divers and cadaver dogs from Mississippi and two other states have searched the river.
- A helicopter from the Mississippi Highway Patrol was used.
- Searchers have criss-crossed the river bottom with all terrain vehicles (ATVs).
Law enforcement efforts have been hindered more than helped by extensive speculation on social media, specifically Facebook. Individuals claiming to know something about what happened to Jessica Stacks have posted their theories and speculations on Facebook, sending law enforcement officials on wild goose chases, following fruitless “leads.”
Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards told NEMiss.News yesterday that someone posted something on Facebook on Saturday, Feb. 20, saying they “knew where Jessica Stacks was buried.”
Deputies checked on the person who “knew were Jessica was buried,” but no usable information resulted.
Then on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 21, someone called saying they were riding an ATV and saw a body under the Rocky Ford bridge.
The caller was told to stay at the scene, and county deputies raced to the scene on dangerous blacktop roads. However, when deputies got to the Rocky Ford bridge, nobody was there and officers found no footprints or ATV tracks in the snow that would indicate anyone had actually been there.
Sheriff Edwards said an attempt will be made to trace the call with a subpoena of telephone records, but, he said, even if law enforcement turns up the telephone that made the call, “I’m not sure we can prove who was holding the phone when the call was made.”
The case of the missing Jessica Stacks has drawn extraordinary interest, not just locally but from other states as well. The growth of the Internet and social media, especially Facebook, has given rise to a swarm of wanna-be detectives, “psychics,” people who have visions and see things in dreams, etc. A great many such self-anointed experts have contacted and “advised” local law enforcement with their opinions and criticisms about where Jessica Stacks might be. None have produced useful information but dealing with them has taken up a great deal of the time and energy of local law enforcement officers.
Two months have gone by. Many hundreds of man hours and many thousands of dollars worth of resources have been used, but Jessica Stacks is still missing.
“It is still an active case,” Edwards told NEMiss.News yesterday. “We will continue to follow every lead we get in our efforts to find Jessica Stacks.”