Two years ago today, Jessica Stacks, then age 28, was reported missing in rural Union County.
Stacks was said to have gotten into a small boat with a male companion on the flooded Tallahatchie River early New Year’s day morning.
Her male companion, Jerry Wayne Baggett, told authorities that Stacks asked to get out of the boat onto the northern bank of the river, after the boat had been in the water only a short while. Baggett said Stacks was going to try to walk through the flooded river bottom to Highway 30, about a mile away.
She was not reported missing until late New Year’s Day night.
Over the following few months, state and local public safety workers made an exhaustive search for Stacks using state-of-the-art electronic equipment, helicopters, and cadaver dogs. Authorities spent thousands of man hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars of public resources trying to find Stacks.
They followed clues and tips, some helpful, some not. The case drew national attention and more than a little in the way of advice from social media sleuths, spiritualists and sooth-sayers.
However, two years later there is not enough physical evidence to even determine whether or not a crime has been committed. Having found no body, authorities do not know whether Stacks is dead or alive.
Certainly, there has been no shortage of suspicions and even silly allegations of official skullduggery.
Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards told NEMiss.News, Saturday evening, December 31, 2022, “It’s still an open case. We welcome any new information that may help us determine what happened to Jessica Stacks.”
Edwards and District Attorney Ben Creekmore met during October, 2022, and carefully reviewed information developed during the long investigation. The sheriff said District Attorney Creekmore determined, “I don’t think we have enough to get an indictment and go to a jury trial with it.”
Around 660,000 people are reported missing in the United States every year. On average, all but about 2,000 of the missing individuals are found, dead or alive, before the year is over.
“We’re still working the case and will pursue it until we get it resolved,” said Sheriff Edwards.
NEMiss.News published about 15 articles about the disappearance of Jessica Stacks and the search for her. Readers may read any or all of those stories by clicking the links below:
https://i0.wp.com/nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Stacks-in-window-vignette-feature.jpg?fit=1200%2C600&ssl=16001200NEMiss.Newshttps://nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/nemiss-full-logo-300x77.jpgNEMiss.News2023-01-01 03:03:522023-01-01 03:03:52After two years, still searching for Jessica Stacks
The year 2021 evokes what Dickens wrote 163 years ago in Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Northeast Mississippi was rocked New Year’s day, 2021, by the disappearance, perhaps the demise, of a not-well-known young woman named Jessica Stacks, age 28.
The year ended with the death of a beloved, gorgeous woman named Betty White, age 99, in her own words a “lucky old broad.” We find nothing to indicate Betty White was ever in Mississippi. However, her presence during 70 years on our television screens here and throughout America treated all of us to a buoyant and charming life. Her death, just 17 days short of her 100th birthday, was announced in California New Year’s Eve.
In between the first and last days of 2021, the dominant topic here and around the world was the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
As of this New Year’s Day, 847,000 Americans have died of COVID, more than twice as many Americans as died in World War II (405,399). Mississippi has the highest rate of deaths per million population of all 50 states. Several factors have made us number one in this dismal category: a public health system that has been neglected and underfunded for decades; poor leadership from the governor; too many Mississippians not vaccinated against COVID.
Alabama is in second place in COVID deaths per million residents and for the same reasons.
Municipal elections were held in most Mississippi towns this year. In Tupelo, businessman Todd Jordan was elected mayor, succeeding attorney Jason Shelton, who served two terms and did not run for re-election. Janet Gaston and Rosie Jones were newly elected as members of the Tupelo City Council. Former FBI Agent John Quaka was appointed as Tupelo’s new chief of police.
In New Albany Tim Kent was re-elected as mayor. Kent has thus been elected for five consecutive terms, a record unprecedented in modern times. Parks Smith and Drew Horn were elected to their first terms on the New Albany Board of Aldermen. Both replaced incumbents who did seek re-election.
Jessica Stacks was lost to us one year ago today.
Back briefly to the story that drew the most readers to NEMiss.News: Jessica Stacks was said to have gotten into a small boat with a male companion on the flooded Tallahatchie River New Year’s day morning. Her male companion, Jerry Wayne Baggett, told authorities that Stacks asked to get out of the boat onto the northern bank of the river after the boat had been in the water only a short while. Baggett said Stacks was going to try to walk through the flooded river bottom to Highway 30, about a mile away.
She was not reported missing until late New Year’s Day night.
State and local public safety workers made an exhaustive search for Stacks using state-of-the-art electronic equipment, helicopters, cadaver dogs, spending literally thousands of man hours trying to find Stacks. They found a coat Stacks was said to have been wearing but little else in the way of useful evidence.
The story of the disappearance of Jessica Stacks has attracted hundreds of thousands of readers from around the United States, Europe and Asia.
Public safety officials received dozens of “tips” about where her body might be. It was a major topic on Facebook and social media. But none of the tips produced any usable evidence.
Psychics and other amateur detectives had countless theories about her disappearance.
Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards told NEMiss.News New Year’s Eve that his office received information during the last month claiming that Stacks’s body was in a deep cistern/well in the western part of Union County. Authorities searched the well with underwater cameras with no results. Then they pumped all the water out of the 30-foot-deep cistern and still found nothing to indicate her body had ever been in the well.
Betty White had a happier life and died after 80 years as one of America’s favorite entertainers. She was an early star of television in the 1950s, playing characters that were sometimes described as “sickening sweet.”
When she was past 70 years of age, she “re-made” herself as a sexy, naughty “old broad” and achieved success that far exceeded that of her earlier career. She once said her secret to a long life was vodka and hot dogs. Her smile will always be something to recall on days when we are blue.
On a happy note, on this New Year’s Day, The Ole Miss Rebels will play Baylor University’s Bears in the Sugar Bowl.
Steve Patterson, our good friend and one of the best writers we know, sent us these two original sentences New Year’s Eve morning:
“And now we mark a new year filled with hopes and dreams and wonder and things that have never been! Happy New Year!!
– J. W. Shiverdecker
Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!
https://i0.wp.com/nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/aa-BETTY-2.jpg?fit=1200%2C630&ssl=16301200Jerry Shiverdeckerhttps://nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/nemiss-full-logo-300x77.jpgJerry Shiverdecker2022-01-01 06:11:582022-01-01 08:59:24A look back on 2021, a year of loss and change
The last provable sighting of Jessica Stacks alive was at about 6 a.m. on Friday, January 1, New Year’s Day, 2021. That was nine months tomorrow, October 1, 2021.
At that time, about an hour before sunrise, Stacks and Jerry Wayne Baggett were seen together, and their images were captured on a video at the West Union (Poolville) Quick Stop west of New Albany. The store is on the north side of Highway 30, between its intersections with County Road 46 and County Road 515.
The temperature was 66F degrees, warm for New Year’s Day in north Mississippi, It had rained in western Union County that morning. At 6 a.m., it was still cloudy and dark, an hour before sunrise.
Jessica Stacks, now missing for 9 months
Jerry Wayne Baggett later told Union County law enforcement officers that, not long after they left the store, he and Stacks put a small boat into the Little Tallahatchie River at the County Road 46 bridge. The CR 46 bridge is 1.5 airline miles south/southwest of the Poolville store.
Bagget told public safety officials that Willie Stinson, a Union County resident, assisted him and Stacks in putting the boat into the river. He said Stacks gave her cell phone to Stinson, so he could be called to pick them up later when they wanted to end their excursion on the river.
The small boat had no motor and no proper oars or paddles. Improvised objects, possibly including a small flat shovel, were apparently to be used to control the boat.
Rains had swollen the Little Tallahatchie and the current in the long straight channel, created by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project in the 1930s, was swift.
The skies had cleared a short while after the time Baggett said they launched the boat into the wild running river.
He said Stacks asked to get out of the boat a short distance after they put in. Baggett said he let her out of the boat on the right (north) bank of the river.
Friday, New Year’s Day 2021, 10 p.m.
Well over 12 hours after Stacks and Baggett were said to have put the boat in the Tallahatchie, Union County law enforcement was informed that Stacks was missing.
Baggett told public safety officials that night that, sometime after putting Stacks out on the right bank, he landed the boat and got out of it on the left bank of the river some distance downstream. Baggett said he called his son on a cell phone to come pick him up. Someone, it is not clear who, did retrieve Baggett. It is unclear why so much time elapsed before Stacks was reported missing.
A search was started immediately that night, and search and rescue resources were gathered for an intensive search.
Saturday, January 2, 2021, Daylight
Extensive search and rescue resources were brought together from around the state, and an exhaustive search for Stacks started at daybreak on Saturday, January 2.
Heat seeking drones were put in the air, working a grid pattern over the flooded river and river bottom in the attempt to find Stacks.
Using boats, all-terrain vehicles and on foot, local public safety officials searched for Stacks.
Part of the night water search for missing woman, Jessica Stacks.
They were joined in the search by more than 30 members of a task force of people certified by National Search and Rescue Association (NSRA).
Baggett showed searchers the spot where he said Stacks left the boat on the north bank of the river.
Near that spot investigators found a place where someone had sat down on the ground for a period of time. Nearby they found a tree that had been cut or chopped on with some kind of sharp instrument. Some small limbs had been cut off of the tree. Oddly, a breaker fuse, about three inches long was found, stuck in a crevice of the tree.
About 50 yards from the tree, investigators found a single green LaCrosse-type rubber boot with the top cut off. Before the boot was found, Baggett had told law enforcement officers Stacks had cut the top off of the boot because it was rubbing on her leg. Only a single boot was found, a lady’s size six or seven.
A coat believed to have been similar to one Stacks had been wearing was found near the single boot.
Investigators tracked someone, presumably Stacks, about 100 yards west up the river bank toward County Road 46. The tracks then turned north some distance toward Highway 30, but disappeared into water standing in a crop field.
Sunday, January 3, 2021
A Mississippi Highway Patrol helicopter joined the search for Stacks on Sunday, but no trace of her was found.
Sunday, January 10, 2021
By January 10, nighttime temperatures in the Tallahatchie River bottom had dropped to a seasonably typical 32 degrees or below, reducing the likelihood of survival for anyone not properly clothed or sheltered.
Late January, 2021
Specially trained cadaver dog teams joined in the search for Jessica Stacks.
After three weeks of intensive searching, the focus of the search tended to change to that of perhaps recovering Stacks’s body from the river.
Early in the week of January 24, teams of searchers with boats and cadaver dogs joined the search for Stacks. Three of the teams searching for Stacks with cadaver recovery dogs were from out of state. Stacks was not found, nor were there any encouraging leads.
Monday, March 1, 2021
In early March, after Stacks had been missing for two months, Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said the investigation had become complicated by crank calls, including someone who claimed to have seen a body under the Rocky Ford bridge and another individual who claimed to “know where Jessica is buried.”
“It is still an active case,” Edwards told NEMiss.News. “We will continue to follow every lead we get in our efforts to find Jessica Stacks.”
Although the disappearance of Jessica Stacks remained an “active” case, no useful new evidence was developed except during the first 48 hours following the report of her disappearance. While public safety officials continued to focus some resources on the case, the concentrated search for her ended months ago.
Interest was kept alive by speculation on Facebook and other social media. Law enforcement officials spent countless hours pursuing “leads” that sprung from social media, but none produced useful evidence.
Curiosity about the Jessica Stacks case spiked upward after Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito was reported missing by her family on Sept. 11, 2021. The story made national news, and Petito’s body was found in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming on Sept. 19. Petito’s death was ruled a homicide. Police are still searching for her boyfriend.
Posters seeking information about Jessica Stacks continue to appear around Union County. Interest on social media and other websites continues.
Someone purporting to be Stacks’s mother, Cathy Paden, posted a notice on a website called change.org, in which the Union County Sheriff’s Department was charged with “not doing a proper investigation” and said local law enforcement “didn’t see any sign of ‘fowl’(sic) play.” That posting also complained about Jerry Wayne Baggett, saying the police “believed everything he said.”
At this time law enforcement officials have no physical evidence that a crime has been committed. That, of course, might change when and if a body is found.
Law enforcement officials spent many hours talking with Baggett and trying to determine the truthfulness of his statements to them.
Thursday, September 30, 2021
A public safety official, close to the investigation from the first hour Stacks was reported missing, told NEMiss.News, “If you go by what he says and what little evidence we found, it matches what Baggett said.”
The long, straight channel of the Tallahatchie River, looking west from the CR 46 bridge, where Jerry Wayne Baggett and Jessica Stacks entered the river. Photo taken Sunday afternoon, January 10, 2021.
That same source, who has extensive experience boating on the Tallahatchie and other Mississippi streams in all kinds of weather, also said, “The river was wild that morning, a fast tricky current. There is no way I would have gotten into it in that kind of boat that morning, especially without a motor.”
When will Jessica Stacks be found?
In addition to investigative efforts by the Union County Sheriff’s office, other public safety agencies, including the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security Search and Rescue Task Force, at least three teams of out-of-state investigators, firefighters trained in rescue work, etc. have tried to find Jessica Stacks and determine what happened to her. All together several thousand hours of time have been spent on the search and investigation.
About 600,000 people disappear in the United States every year, and around 90 percent of them are found dead or alive within a relatively short time. That means, of course, that around 60,000 disappear every year and are not found.
Future months may reveal more about the disappearance of Jessica Stacks. This article summarizes what is known and verifiable right now, from what NEMiss.News knows to be dependable sources.
https://i0.wp.com/nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Stacks-in-window-vignette-feature.jpg?fit=1200%2C600&ssl=16001200NEMiss.Newshttps://nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/nemiss-full-logo-300x77.jpgNEMiss.News2021-09-30 00:14:422021-09-30 00:14:42Jessica Stacks missing since New Year’s Day: a nine month review of the search and investigation
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.
Authorities say this is the ramp Jerry Wayne Baggett used to launch his motorless boat.
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 Tallahatchie slightly out of its banks this past weekend.
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.”
https://i0.wp.com/nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Tallahatchie-River-2-27-21.jpg?fit=1200%2C571&ssl=15711200NEMiss.Newshttps://nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/nemiss-full-logo-300x77.jpgNEMiss.News2021-03-01 15:51:442021-03-01 15:51:44Jessica Stacks disappearance: a two-month follow up
Jessica Stacks was reported missing from the Tallahatchie River bottom four weeks ago today. Despite having no new information, Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards is still leading an active search.
“There’s no update, nothing new,” Sheriff Edwards said Thursday.
The search for Stacks continues
The search continues, however.
Edwards said he had two boats in the river searching this past Tuesday and used a side-by-side ATV Wednesday.
Despite criticism to the contrary, mostly on social media, the sheriff said his department has followed up on each lead, no matter how unlikely.
The number of leads has essentially dwindled in the past week or so. “We haven’t had any new ones,” he said.
Edwards gave no indication he planned to stop searching. Although missing person cases usually remain open indefinitely, he cannot allocate resources to the search forever. Based on what he was told, Stacks was missing from a relatively limited area, and it can only be scoured so many times.
What are the odds?
The longer the search goes on, the less likely it is that the missing woman will be found.
According to NamUs (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System), more than 600,000 persons go missing in the United States every year. NamUs is funded by the Department of Justice and other agencies.
Data shows that between 89 percent to 92 percent of those missing people are recovered each year, either alive or deceased. According to the agency, they are often recovered in a few days.
It’s been 28 days since 28-year-old Stacks was reported missing from the Tallahatchie River bottom. Despite a massive search, her location remains a mystery.
What is known about Stacks’ disappearance?
Stacks, 28, of the Harmony community, and companion Jerry Wayne Baggett were said to be floating down the river from County Road 46 near the Enterprise community in a boat without a motor.
They were said to be looking for wild game stranded along the river.
Baggett told the sheriff that Stacks got out of the boat with the intention of walking out of the river bottom.
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. Stacks never appeared.
The sheriff’s department was not informed that Stacks was missing until 10:15 New Year’s night. Rescue efforts began immediately.
Despite use of searchers on foot, dive teams, search dogs, aerial searches and advanced technology – continuously over 14 days – Stacks has not been found. Only evidence of where she apparently got out of the boat was located.
“As heartbreaking as it is, without some new development there’s not much we can do,” Edwards said a week ago. “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.”
“She’s still at the very forefront of our minds. Hopefully, something will break soon. I hope and pray we get a break,” he said.
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.
Sheriff Jimmy Edwards
“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.
https://i0.wp.com/nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Jessica-Stacks-2.jpg?fit=1200%2C500&ssl=15001200NEMiss.Newshttps://nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/nemiss-full-logo-300x77.jpgNEMiss.News2021-01-20 19:19:372021-01-27 13:49:17Union County sheriff not giving up search for missing woman Jessica Stacks despite 20 days without results
As the search for missing Jessica Stacks goes into its 12th day, the work of law enforcement officers is increasingly frustrated by activity on so-called “social media.”
Tens of thousands of northeast Mississippians have followed the news about Stacks and her mysterious disappearance New Year’s Day on NEMiss.News, WTVA, WLBT, etc.
Interest in the story about what happened to Stacks has triggered a huge babble of discussion on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Concerned people, including several wannabe detectives, have flooded social media with theories, assumptions, “facts” and speculation about what may have happened to the 28-year-old woman. She is said to have disappeared from a boat in which she was riding with Jerry Wayne Baggett.
Divers search the Tallahatchie River in missing person recovery attempt.
Scores of law enforcement and emergency management people have put in thousands of man hours searching for Stacks. Their work has been handicapped by loose talk on social media. The people whose duty it is to try to find out what happened to Stacks, have wasted countless hours and resources running down rumors and alleged “facts” circulated on Facebook, private messaging, etc.
Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards makes this simple request:
“If you have real information that may help us find out what happened to Jessica Stacks, call us. Call 662-534-1941. That number is answered by a trained dispatcher 24/7.
“The dispatchers will quickly contact me. I or one of my deputies, will interview you as soon as possible on the telephone or face-to-face to find out what you know and how you know it.
“We have too many people hiding behind their damned computer keyboards, spreading unreliable speculation, and it’s making our work much, much harder. If you really know something, call us. Again, the number is 662-534-1941.
During search a four wheeler was stuck, winched from mud of Tallahatchie River bottom area.
“We are more determined than ever to find out what happened to Jessica Stacks, but we need you to tell us directly if you actually know anything. Stop wasting our time and yours kicking it around on Facebook, text messages and so on.
“We need hard facts, not gossip.
“This idle gossip and speculation on social media is not only hindering our investigation, it is adding to the pain of those who have lost her.”
“Call us 24/7 at 662-534-1941 if you actually know anything about what may have happened. We thank you for any hard facts you can give us,” Edwards concluded.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sheriff Jimmy Edwards reported still no success Thursday after another full day’s search for Jessica Stacks, reported missing almost a week ago.
The Union County Sheriff’s Department learned she was missing about 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 1, and has conducted searches beginning that night and continuing daily since then.
Stacks, 28, of the Harmony community, and companion Jerry Wayne Baggett were said to be floating down the river in a boat without a motor. They were said to have put the boat into the water from County Road 46 early Friday. Baggett told the sheriff that Stacks got out of the boat with the intention of walking out of the river bottom. 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.
Officers from various agencies along with some volunteers have put in hundreds of hours searching for Stacks every day, at times using high-tech mapping and surveillance equipment to make sure all areas were covered.
Specially-equipped drones and even a Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol search helicopter were brought in and some night searches were performed, at times in rain and near-freezing weather. Although they found evidence of where Stacks got out of the river, there was no sign of her on land.
Edwards said they have also conducted several water searches and they tried using a diver. “The water was just too cold for a diver,” he said. Edwards says they have searched as far as Graham near the headwaters of Sardis Lake.
“I rode it myself yesterday from Graham down to Rocky Ford and back but didn’t see anything,” he said.
The river bottom area is rough terrain, cut up with serpentine natural ditches, filled with brush. There are also deep man-made ditches dug to drain water from crop fields.
“We’re going to try to stay hopeful,” he said Tuesday, “ but after this many days it doesn’t look good.
The incident has drawn a great deal of social media speculation, but Edwards said they had no evidence to contradict what they were told and could not act on speculation.
https://i0.wp.com/nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/sardis-lake.jpg?fit=1030%2C533&ssl=15331030NEMiss.Newshttps://nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/nemiss-full-logo-300x77.jpgNEMiss.News2021-01-07 19:22:542021-01-07 22:00:24Woman still missing with no new clues after nearly week’s search
Twenty-eight-year-old Jessica Stacks of the Harmony community still had not been found late Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 5, Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said. She was reported missing somewhere along the Tallahatchie River Friday, Jan. 1, in a case that has drawn considerable public interest.
The Union County Sheriff’s Department learned she was missing about 10 p.m. Friday and has conducted searches beginning that night and continuing intermittently since then.
“We’ve done all we could on land,” Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said Tuesday afternoon. “I’m going to meet with emergency management director Curt Clayton and we are going to concentrate on the river.”
“No developments have led anywhere else,” he added. “That’s all we can do.”
Stacks and companion Jerry Wayne Baggett were said to be floating down the river in a boat without a motor. They were said to have put the boat into the water from County Road 46 early Friday. Baggett told the sheriff that Stacks got out of the boat with the intention of walking out of the river bottom. 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.
Edwards said about 50 volunteers searched on foot during the day over the weekend, also using boats, ATVs, thermal imaging drones and a Mississippi Highway Patrol helicopter. Some night search was done as well, sometimes in rain and near-freezing weather.
Searchers found footprints and some other evidence of where Stacks may have been, but high water prevented further tracking. The river bottom area is rough terrain, cut up with serpentine natural ditches, filled with brush. There are also deep man-made ditches dug to drain water from crop fields.
The search continued on a scaled-down basis Monday and Tuesday, because fewer volunteers and officials from other areas were available.
“This is certainly difficult on the grandmother, on the family,” Edwards said. “But we can’t make something out of nothing.”
The sheriff did not want to refer to the search as a recovery effort yet.
“We’re going to try to stay hopeful,” he said, “ but after this many days it doesn’t look good.
He added they have conducted interviews concerning the search, but said, “We can’t do much with speculation.”
https://i0.wp.com/nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Jessica-Stacks-2.jpg?fit=1200%2C500&ssl=15001200NEMiss.Newshttps://nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/nemiss-full-logo-300x77.jpgNEMiss.News2021-01-05 17:38:592021-01-06 01:14:13Officials exhausting options in search for woman missing in Tallahatchie river bottom
Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards reported no new results late Monday night, Jan. 4, in the search for 28-year-old Jessica Stacks. She was reported missing somewhere along the the Tallahatchie River late Friday, Jan. 1, 2021.
Edwards said about 50 volunteers searched during the day over the weekend using boats, ATVs, foot searchers, specially-equipped drones and a Mississippi Highway Patrol helicopter. Some night search was done as well.
Although searchers found footprints and some other evidence of where Stacks may have been, there was no sighting of her and high water prevented further tracking. The river bottom area is rough terrain, cut up with serpentine natural ditches, filled with brush. There are also deep man-made ditches dug to drain water from crop fields.
The search continued on a scaled-down basis Monday because fewer volunteers were available. Edwards said another boat search of the area was planned for Tuesday, Jan. 5, but that the water level was quickly going down and might be too shallow for a boat.
Stacks and companion Jerry Wayne Baggett were said to be floating down the river in a boat without a motor. They were said to have put the boat into the water from County Road 46 early Friday. Baggett told sheriff that Stacks got out of the boat with the intention of walking out of the river bottom. Much of the river bottom was flooded when Jessica Stacks is said to have left the boat. It was reported that Baggett continued down the river and was picked up later.
Officials were not alerted to the situation until about 10 p.m. Friday, and began the search, some of which occurred in rain and near-freezing temperatures.
This Google Earth photo shows the Tallahatchie River running from lower right to upper left. County Road 46 crosses the river at lower right and Highway 30 at Etta is at upper left. The area where Stacks left the boat appears to be about halfway between the two roads.
https://i0.wp.com/nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/river-looking-glum.jpg?fit=1030%2C565&ssl=15651030NEMiss.Newshttps://nemiss.news/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/nemiss-full-logo-300x77.jpgNEMiss.News2021-01-04 19:49:442021-01-04 20:20:42No success yet in search for woman missing along Tallahatchie River in Union County
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