Jessica Stacks missing ten days; Sheriff says “not ready to quit looking for her”

NEMiss.News Tallahatchie River at CR 46


It has been ten full days since Jessica Stacks, age 28, disappeared somewhere along the Tallahatchie River in the western part of Union County, Mississippi.

The law enforcement search for Stacks has been continual since then. However, Union County Sheriff told NEMiss.News late Sunday, “I’m not ready to give up on finding her.”

It was Friday, Jan.1, early New Year’s Day morning, when Stacks is said to have been in a boat on the Tallahatchie River with Jerry Wayne Baggett.

However, the Union County Sheriff’s Department was not informed until 10:15 p.m. Friday night that Stacks was missing.

Baggett told law enforcement officers he and Stacks put a boat without a motor into the river near the County Road 46 bridge early Friday. Baggett said they had floated only a short distance down the river when Stacks said she wanted to get out of the boat and walk out of the river bottom toward State Highway 30.

Baggett said he let Stacks out of the boat on the right (north) bank of the river and she started toward Highway 30.

NEMiss.News North bank of Tallahatchie near CR 46

North Bank of Tallahatchie just below the CR 46 bridge, fully back in its main channel, afternoon, January 10, 2021.

Heavy rains had fallen in the last days of December. The river was out of its banks and much of the bottom land was flooded. Had Stacks taken the shortest straight-line distance to Highway 30 (about 35 degrees north/northeast), the distance would have been about a mile. However, that most direct route would have taken her through standing water and heavy brush, as well as natural and man-made ditches.

Those would have been challenging obstacles even to a well-equipped, military trained ranger. Stacks was said not to have been warmly dressed. A coat she may have been wearing was found near one of the deep man-made ditches.

If she had tried to walk a route more to the north or northwest, the distance to Highway 30 would have been far greater, and the obstacles much more formidable.

NEMiss.News Union Co.

Searches of the rough terrain along the river were performed.

The search for Jessica Stacks has been one of the most extensive and intense searches ever made in northeast Mississippi.

Law enforcement personnel and assets from around Mississippi and at least one neighboring state have been involved in the search.

NEMiss.News Helicopter searches for Stacks

Special search helicopters and heat imaging drones were used in searches.

Starting Saturday, Jan 2nd, drones with thermal imaging cameras began searching the river bottom between the Tallahatchie and Highway 30. The drones grid-searched several square miles; thus, a few million square yards were combed over.

A Mississippi Highway Patrol helicopter searched the river and river bottom downstream from County Road 46.

Besides Union County Sheriff’s officers, personnel from Mississippi Wildlife and Fisheries, Union County Search and Rescue, Mississippi Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies have searched the river and river bottom on foot, using ATV vehicles and boats, putting in altogether a few thousand man hours.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has aided in the search.

As days went by, and with temperatures in the river bottom reaching freezing or below over the last ten days, the search has sadly become more a recovery than a rescue operation.

NEMiss.News Divers searching the Tallahatchie

Divers searched the 42 degree waters of the Tallahatchie River as part of the attempt to discover the fate of Jessica Stacks.

All day Saturday, Jan. 9, six professional divers from the Ridgeland, Mississippi, fire department searched under water. The divers worked in 42-degree water until 9 o’clock Saturday night. Sheriff Edwards said the divers concentrated their search in that portion of the river between County Road 46 and Rocky Ford.

Two cadaver dogs from Huntsville, Alabama, and their handlers searched the river during the past weekend.

NEmiss.News Cadaver dogs in Tallahatchie search

Specially trained cadaver dog teams joined in the search for Jessica Stacks.

NEMiss.News has not learned of any evidence of a crime at this point. Baggett is said to have had a hunting gun when he and Stacks launched into the River on Jan. 1st. That gun is in the custody of the Union County Sheriff.

Sheriff Edwards was asked by this reporter if Jerry Wayne Baggett had helped in the search. Edwards said, “We have seen him riding the roads.” Edwards indicated that Baggett has been cooperative, but that only trained law enforcement and emergency personnel have been actively involved in the search.

NEMiss.News Divers warming themselves

Divers warming themselves by a fire after searching 42 degree water Saturday night Jan. 9, 2021.

Temperatures dropped below freezing early this morning in the Tallahatchie River bottom. It snowed in Union County last night.

The search for Jessica Stacks still goes on.

“We’re still going to follow every lead we can,” Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said last night.


A few more details about the boat trip:

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