It has been 20 days since 28-year-old Jessica Stacks was reported missing from the Tallahatchie River bottom southwest of the Enterprise community. The search for her continues.
While many law enforcement agencies would have called off the search by now, Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said he is not giving up.
Stacks, of the Harmony community, was said to be with Jerry Wayne Baggett the morning of New Year’s Day, Friday, Jan. 1. Baggett told the sheriff he and Stacks were floating down the river from County Road 46 in a boat without a motor, looking for wild game. Baggett said Stacks got out of the boat with the intention of walking out of the river bottom toward Highway 30.
Much of the river bottom was flooded when Stacks is said to have left the boat. It was reported that Baggett continued down the river and was picked up later, but Stacks never appeared.
Although Stacks is said to have left the boat and set off across the flooded river bottom Friday morning, it was about 10 p.m. Friday night before she was reported missing to law enforcement officials. Union County Sheriff’s officers started a search and rescue operation for her that same night.
“We searched 14 days straight,” Edwards said. Efforts have continued sporadically since then. The sheriff has used a variety of sophisticated technology to make sure all ground and water areas have been covered. That includes tracking collars for searchers, drones with thermal imaging, side scan sonar and other means.
“I put 40 miles on my side-by-side ATV just this past week,” he said. “I’ve had dive teams from Jackson here two times, a Memphis cadaver dog once and Huntsville cadaver dogs searching for her two times.”
Edwards has even had someone in waders walk a two-mile long steep-walled dragline ditch between where Stacks is said have left the boat and headed toward HIghway 30. The deputy found nothing.
Other than evidence of where Stacks may have got out of the boat, the searches have turned up nothing.
“As heartbreaking as it is, without some new development there’s not much we can do,” Edwards said. “I’ve exhausted every resource that I have, but that doesn’t mean we are giving up. I just don’t know any more resources that haven’t been utilized.”
The sheriff has interviewed people and followed up on every lead, no matter how tenuous.
This past week someone found what appeared to be women’s clothes at the Hell Creek Bridge on CR 478. “I sent a deputy and he bagged and brought in the clothing,” Edwards said. “We looked at it, but it had been there a very long time. Grass was actually growing through it.”
One woman claimed to to “know” that someone had killed Stacks and ‘placed her body in a pond.’ Officers brought the woman in and interviewed her. It turned out that this was just what the woman “imagined” might have happened to Stacks. While the woman who “imagined” what happened to Stacks had no evidence, officers searched that pond and another nearby with a drone. They also brought a cadaver dog to search but found nothing to support what the woman claimed to know.
“There were no alerts, no evidence at all,” the sheriff said.
“We’re doing all we can do, and still get beat up [by comments on social media],” he said. “That bothers you a little, but it’s worse for the family. What they see on Facebook upsets them, puts the family through hell and the people don’t know what they’re talking about.”
The bottom line is, “Nobody has walked through the door with first-hand information of what happened,” he said.
“There is only so much you can do,” he continued. “She’s still at the very forefront of our minds. Hopefully, something will break soon. I hope and pray we get a break.”
But Sheriff Edwards plans to continue efforts as much as is practical, regardless.
See more information on this story: https://newalbanyunionco.com/sheriff-needs-facts-not-facebook-gossip-social-media-hindering-stacks-search/