Justice for Jesse Help us get Randolph County Officials invite the SBI to investigate the death of my son, Jesse Maness
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My son, Jesse Maness, age 24, went missing on October 13th. He was last seen in a parking lot of a restaurant, Compadres of Siler City at 2:30am. They found Jesse on October 19th face down in a creek off Hwy 22/42 in Bennett, Randolph County. It appeared that he ran off the bridge (no guardrail) and landed on the creek bank. The police propose that he crawled out the window onto the dry land, and then pulled himself into the water. His body was found 30 ft. away from the car, upstream, in about 18 in. of stagnant water. This creek is very shallow and does not flow. The water is black with sediment. There were no apparent injuries to his body that would determine cause of death. He did have a severely fractured hip.
When we identified Jesse's body, he looked like he was just sleeping. No marks on his body that would be cause of death, no bloating, decomposition, or discoloration. His hands looked wrinkled as if they had been in water a long time. The coroner said that he didn't think that Jesse had been dead long (1-3 days at most) and did not look like he had been in the water long (less than 24 hours). Jesse was found with no pants, shoes, and just one sock on. The shirt he was wearing when he left was a light cream color. They found him wearing a dark slate blue thermal underwear shirt like what he usually slept in. The creek and bridge where he was found had been searched earlier in the week. His car and body were not there. I have signed and recorded statements of the people who checked the bridge and actually walked under it and saw no evidence of Jesse or his car.
I also talked to the medical examiner in Chapel Hill who did the autopsy. Although she had not officially released the report, she told me that Jesse’s cause of death was drowning and that he had been dead anywhere from 24 hours-3 days. She also said that he had not been in the water more than 24 hours. There was clear water in his lungs and 300 ml of dark fluid in his stomach. She did not test for diatoms because she said she was not told that there was any question about his death. Her understanding was that Jesse was found in his car, overturned in a creek. She was not told that he had been missing for several days. I feel that several pertinent details about the scene of his death were not relayed to the ME's office. A detective with the RCSO assured us that he would escort Jesse's body to Chapel Hill and inform them of the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. I have contacted the chief medical examiner and she agrees that there needs to be a review of the autopsy results. Although they ruled Jesse’s death as a drowning, there were several indicators that contradict that theory.
I also contacted several experts in forensics and indicators of drowning. In examining pictures of Jesse and the scene of the accident, they reported that there were no signs of lividity, blood pooling, or decomposition that would indicate that Jesse had been in the water over 24 hours. They also pointed out characteristics of Jesse’s rigor mortis and body that might indicate that Jesse did not die in the water. Other details of the scene of the accident were not consistent with a drowning. The tilt of his head was noted as an indicator that Jesse died on land and was later put in the creek. The degree of wrinkling on his hands and feet were not indicative of a person who had been in the water more than 12 hours. In fact, he said that the "washer woman" wrinkling effect on Jesse's hands were normal for just a few hours in the water.
The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department has closed the case and ruled it as a "simple traffic fatality." However, we feel that there are too many unanswered questions and suspicions of foul play. I contacted Randolph County Sheriff’s Department in order to ask them for a copy of the report. I talked to a Capt. Derrick Hill. He told me, “Get over it, that it was a simple traffic accident.” He also made other hurtful and insensitive comments about Jesse’s death. I called Sheriff Maynard Reid in order to report this unacceptable behavior. He was extremely rude and told me that since I was not a citizen of Randolph County, he did not owe me anything. He then hung up on me. My husband, who is a former Chatham County Deputy Sheriff, called Capt. Hill the next morning. He denied speaking to me in that manner, but said that he could not release the report. He did send the missing person’s report, which was not what we had asked for.
We have given the Randolph Co. detectives a list of names of people who checked the bridge and creek where they found Jesse. Each of these people reported that there was no car in the creek earlier in the week. We have also given the detectives a list of names of people who could possibly have more information about what happened to Jesse. These people have not been questioned. We do not understand why this police department is being so uncooperative. My ex-husband is a convicted felon and tried to kill Jesse twice before by shooting at him. He has family working at the Randolph Sheriff’s Dept. I can’t imagine why else we would be treated with such disrespect and lack of compassion. An acquaintance of my ex-husband came to my house twice in the past two months, stating that he was a witness to my ex-husband killing Jesse. He stated that after Jesse was killed, he was put in a freezer. They later removed Jesse from the freezer and placed him in his car, pushing it off the bridge. This bridge is less than a 1/4 of a mile from my ex-husband's house. Recordings of the witness's statement have been provided to both Chatham and Randolph County detectives. Also mentioned in the audio recording were statements about certain buildings in Chatham County that were burned down my ex-husband. The second time my ex-husband's acquaintance came to my house, he told me that he wanted to clear his conscience and make an official statement to the police. We called Det. Jeffrey Goins and asked him to come to my house. We waited for several hours. During this time, I did not allow him to drink any of the alcohol, which he had brought with him. When Det. Goins arrived, he explained his rights and asked permission to record his statement. I was asked to leave them during this session. Det. Goins stated that the statement was basically the same as earlier statements recorded.
I talked to Randolph County District Attorney, Garland Yates on Friday, November 1st. I had been trying to reach him for several months. He told me that he had heard about my son's case, and quite frankly he didn't see enough evidence to warrant any further investigation. He felt that as far as he was concerned, Jesse drowned as a result of a car accident. When I tried to tell him about some of the suspicious details of his death which did not clearly indicate that he wrecked and drowned on the night he went missing, he told me that he didn't see anything suspicious. He even suggested that perhaps Jesse committed suicide, and I didn't want to accept that. He finally told me that he would look into it and get back to me, but not to expect to hear anything from him for a few weeks.
I have contacted NCSBI agents who are aware of the circumstances of Jesse's case but are waiting to be invited by either RCSO or the DA to investigate Jesse's death. I also have an officer of the U.S. Marshall's Office who has reviewed the wreck report completed the NCSHP officer. He found several inconsistencies in the report and the narratives, along with missing pertinent information. We will be requesting a review of the wreck report. I have contacted the NC Medical Examiner's Office and requested a review of the autopsy. Because they were not told the circumstances of Jesse's death and background information, several tissue samples and tests were excluded from the autopsy procedure.
Our family asks that you please look into the actions of the Randolph Co. Sheriff’s Dept. and investigate why they issued a "hush order" the night we found Jesse. They wouldn't even let me touch Jesse, telling me that he was part of a crime scene. I waited a month before I finally called them and was told that they closed the case, ruling in as a "simple car accident" which resulted in drowning. The accident report or autopsy reports were not even completed at this time. We also ask that you contact the appropriate officials who can call in the SBI to investigate Jesse's death, as we do not trust our local authorities to handle it properly or with integrity. We do not feel that we can find closure as long as there are so many unanswered questions. We need someone to please help us get the Randolph County DA or RC Sheriff Maynard Reid, ask the SBI to investigate my son’s death. If they are convinced that Jesse died as a result of a "simple car accident" then why will they not turn the investigation over to another agency?
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