I just spent the longest time trying to follow descriptions for the location of this strange vanishing. Apparently we are looking at a place near Highway 30. This spot is about a 15 minute drive, south-west of New Albany, Mississippi.
On New Year’s Day 2021 Jessica, 28, was with a man called Jerry Wayne Baggett. It was a little before dawn and they are on CCTV security footage at the West Union Store on the 30 . The story goes that they then drove a couple of miles and put a small boat on the Little Tallahatchie River. This was near a bridge on County Rd 46. There they were assisted by another man, just a local guy. He was given Ms Stacks phone. The idea was that the couple would go downstream and ring this guy when they wanted picking up.
After a while Ms Stacks wanted off the boat. She was put ashore on the north bank. Later her tracks would be followed towards the highway. It was not until 10 pm that the law was told she was missing.
Despite searches, and all the usual effort, she has not been located since. I said in the title this was a strange case and here is why.
The boat was a small one and it did not have an engine. It did not have proper paddles or oars. The reports say the couple were steering it with a small shovel. Rain had ‘battered’ the area in late December and the air temperature was 66f. Now to us, in the UK, that is an outstanding New Year’s Day temperature. Apparently that is about right for this part of Mississippi. That is still a bit cool if you went in the water. Also a bit too cool to wander about without footwear and your coat…yes those were found during the search. So wherever Ms Stacks went she was hardly dressed for the season.
In the NEMiss News article it suggests she had got out of the boat not much after getting in ( others vary the time). So she should have been found. Normally you would have to allow for her falling into the river, maybe, but the footprints counter that idea to a good degree. The distance between the County Rd 46 bridge and the highway is just short of two miles (3km), yet the prints went off into water logged fields. Why would someone walk through mud when they were not far from a road?
The family are not convinced this is a case of misadventure. A family member told Dateline:
‘She didn’t just walk away and if she was hurt, we would’ve found her. Someone did something to her. I know it.’
When it comes to the law enforcement of the area they say they have done everything to find this woman. They say there is no trace of foul play and so their search continues.
If you know better and any of the above is wrong just let me know. I have tried to cross reference sources to find the locations I have given.
Four possibilities occur to me when it comes to the plight of this poor woman and the family.
- Ms Stacks got out of the boat, walked towards the highway, got wet and fed up and then walked back only to fall in. Of course the boots and the coat don’t support that.
- She never got out of the boat there yet ended up in the river. The footwear being found along with the tracks doesn’t support that. In addition, one report says the search teams found a place where someone had sat down for a while near where she got out.
- She did walk towards the highway and met with some awful low life who took her.
- She vanished of her own accord. The clothing does sort of put a big hole in the idea. In an NBC article it was confirmed that she left her car keys and her purse in the boat. What woman would walk off without her purse and car keys if her intention was to ‘disappear’ and start a new life? Something happened to her surely?
In the NEMIss article a local expert is quoted as saying he would not have gotten into that boat without a motor. The current was tricky and the water was wild. In another source it was speculated that the pair might have been hog hunting from the river, but I have seen no confirmation of that.
As I scanned around for information on this there is a lot of speculation and frankly I cannot repeat it without knowing the original source. It has some similarities with the case of Rebekah Barsotti in Montana. A total vanishing while near or in a river. Rebekah Barsotti has been found after 10 months where as Ms Stacks has now been missing for 18. The search involved agencies from in and out of state. Heat seeking drones were used and divers did their thing. So where is she?
If you know anything do the family a favour. By any means let someone know what you do. Below are a couple of ways. Of course I would like you to deal with the US agencies, but you can tell me and I will get the information to who needs it if you would rather.
Union County Sheriff’s Office at 662-534-1943