We have written of the disappearance of several people before, most of whom vanish in the strangest and still unexplained circumstances. Perhaps one of the most bizarre and chilling of these disappearances is that of the entire Jamison family, a father, mother, and young daughter, all of whom vanished without a trace in 2009.
The remains of their bodies were discovered almost four years later. However, rather than shed light on the disturbing situation, it only left the questions glaringly unanswered. Just how the Jamison’s met their end remains a complete mystery. As does why they disappeared in the first place. The fact that their skeletal remains were discovered side-by-side, lying face down in a shallow grave suggests it was most certainly something sinister and untoward.
There are, as we shall examine, several theories as to what happened, based on the apparent, at times, shady circumstances that surrounded the family in the weeks leading up to their disappearance. How much of this backstory is accurate and how much is hearsay and speculation, though, remains a part of the mystery itself.
It is perhaps appropriate to say that the case of the Jamisons’ disappearance, as tragic as it is, is one of the most fascinating and intriguing of the twenty-first century. And one that a century from now, will in all likelihood, remain unexplained and just as fascinating and mysterious. Just what happened to the husband and wife and their small daughter? What unsavory ties – if any – did one or both of the parents have? And how did it contribute to their untimely ends?
A Typical But Intensely Private Family
Before we examine the events of 8th October 2009 – the last time we know the Jamison family were alive – as well as the grim discovery four years later in November 2013, we will turn our attention to what we know of the family, and to some of the apparent activity taking place in those final weeks before they simply vanished into thin air.
The Jamisons consisted of husband and wife, Bobby and Sherilynn, aged 44 and 40 respectively at the time of their disappearance, and their 6-year-old daughter, Madyson. They lived in a typical urban family area of the Eufaula region of Oklahoma. While they appeared a normal everyday family on the outside, though, behind closed doors it would appear that things were not as they should have been for some time. That they were very private meant that many people, even those who considered themselves close friends of the couple would only realize the true quirks of their relationship and existence following their disappearance.
In 2003, Bobby was involved in a car accident which would leave him with chronic back pain – something which would affect his moods considerably. On top of this, Sherilynn suffered from bi-polar, for which she was prescribed medication. However, from what we know of the case files, it would appear that she would often not take this medication. This would lead to mood swings and episodes of her own, which, unintentionally or no, would put further pressure on the household.
Eventually, it is thought because of this increasing, if self-inflicted pressure on the husband and wife, they began to look at ways to start over somewhere else. They would begin searching for an isolated plot of land where they could build a new life and that would suit their intensely private lifestyle.
A Belief In Spirits In The Jamison Home
It is perhaps worth our time mentioning at this point that as well as being a very private couple, Bobby and Sherilynn were also very religious. This, as we shall examine, might have played a big part in their disappearance. Especially when we consider that both Bobby and Sherilynn were concerned with “spirits” in the house, with Sherilynn specifically believing that these spirits were attempting to influence, perhaps even possess, their daughter, Madyson, who would regularly “talk” to an apparent invisible presence named Emily.
Whether a spirit from the other side was visiting the Jamison daughter or not is perhaps open to debate. Some schools of thought suggest that this very well might have been a coping mechanism of sorts for the young girl, who given the mood swings of her father and the episodes of non-medication from her mother, would have found life, at times, very harrowing.
This concern with evil spirits and entities, whether merely paranoia or not, would lead the couple to become friendly with a local preacher. So much so that Bobby would even ask of this person if he could obtain for him “special bullets” specifically for him to use against spirits he believed were in the roof of the house.
It would also come to light that Bobby had obtained a copy of the Satanic Bible at some point during this time of apparent spirits invading their home. It is believed he planned to use the teachings of the book to help rid them of the evil they believed was overtaking them. This is interesting and something we will come back to shortly, as claims of connections to satanic groups would surface during investigations into their bizarre disappearance.
Claims Of Being “A Witch”
It would appear that the Jamisons had discovered their getaway spot when they discovered a 40-acre plot on Panola Mountain. Here they would literally build their new home. It is believed that they planned to move a storage container to the plot which they would use as a temporary home until building their new property. The container, however, would never leave the Jamison home in Eufaula.
It was on this storage container that Sherilynn began spray painting bizarre slogans and messages. Something which perhaps first alerted their neighbors that something was not well. Although she would regularly tell her neighbors that she was herself “a witch”, even holding seances on occasion, most didn’t take such statements or gatherings seriously. However, when such things as “black cats being poisoned” and “witches did not like it when their cats were killed” they began to take a little more notice. Especially when she would declare her belief that someone in the neighborhood had been responsible for killing her cats.
Needless to say, most people would do their best to politely avoid the Jamisons, in particular, Sherilynn. One friend who didn’t, however, and possibly one of the few people Sherilynn trusted and liked, was neighbor, Miki Shenold. Although she too didn’t take the seances and claims of being a witch too seriously, she would go along with them her Sherilynn’s sake.
It was Niki who would witness, albeit second-hand though Sherilynn, some of the events closest to the time of the family’s disturbing disappearance.
A Disturbing Account!
One of these developments was the decision of the Jamison family to take in a male lodger in the weeks leading up to their planned move. This was, it would appear, due to the amount of “heavy lifting” that was required to move the Jamisons’ belongings and furniture. With Bobby’s back already weakened from the car accident in 2003, it was clear they would need assistance.
However, it would soon come to light, after she confided in Niki, that this new lodger evoked feelings of anxiety in Sherilynn. According to Sherilynn, one day when Bobby was not at home the lodger would suddenly sit next to her on the sofa and lean directly into her face. He would, she claimed, state that he was “disgusted” by her due to her “Indian blood” (Sherilynn was indeed part Native America), and further revealed he was a “white supremacist”.
Then things turned even more disturbing.
Feeling scared and more than threatened by this development, Sherilynn would quickly leave the room. She would immediately locate the gun that was kept in the home and returned to the room where the lodger had remained. She would, she would inform Niki, point the gun directly at him and order him to leave. When he refused, she fired several rounds into the floor near his feet. This would prompt him to leave the property.
Incidentally, following the disappearance of the family several weeks later, investigators would locate the lodger in question. Whether the incident played out as Sherilynn had informed Niki or not is unclear. The man, however, was ruled out as a suspect in their disappearance due to having a “solid alibi”.
What is clear, however, is that on 8th October 2009, the Jamisons would seemingly vanish into thin air.
The Discovery Of The Jamison’s Abandoned Truck
Although the 8th October was the last time anyone could recall seeing the Jamison family, it was over a week on the 16th when neighbors began to question if something truly untoward had taken place. Although it was not uncommon for the family to “disappear” for several days on end, it was unusual that no one had seen anything of them for over a week. This lack of initial concern for their well-being was compounded even more by the fact that the family had very recently informed the local school that they were moving elsewhere and so were removing their daughter from the school in question.
In fact, it was only when several hunters on Panola Mountain found an abandoned truck and reported it to police that it became clear something was not right. When police investigated the abandoned vehicle, it would soon become clear that the truck was that of the Jamison family. And the discoveries made inside did not paint a good picture at all, not least their very frightened and starving dog, Maisy, who would survive and recover from the ordeal (eventually being rehomed with Bobby’s mother).
That the canine was seemingly the only witness to whatever events did unfold around the abandoned truck was unfortunate. As the finds were bizarre and chilling in equal measure. While none of the family were anywhere in sight, all of their possessions were.
Inside the truck were both of the Jaimson’s mobile phones, as well as Sherilynn’s purse and Bobby’s wallet. Perhaps making the matter even more intriguing was the discovery of $32,000 in cash stashed under the front seat of the vehicle. Furthermore, an 11-page letter written by Sherilynn to her husband was also discovered, in which, she attacked him for “not caring” for his family.
The Last Picture? A Crucial Clue Or Nothing Of Importance?
It was perhaps the discoveries they made when attempting to trace the pair’s last known movements with their mobile phone GPS coordinates that were most disturbing. And debated.
These signals would lead investigators up a small hill from the vehicle. They would theorize that they had become lost and had left the truck and were likely “lost in the woods”. This appeared even more the case when they found a footprint on the hill that was clearly the size of a 6-year-old and was almost certainly that of Madyson.
They would also perhaps make the most perplexing and potentially haunting discoveries of the investigation – a picture of the missing girl on Bobby’s mobile phone, seemingly taken at the hilltop. You can see that picture below.
The picture is one that many investigators and researchers have studied and offered their opinions on. Is the young girl about to laugh? Cry? Maybe even shout? Are her crossed arms a sign of fear or of being uncomfortable in some way? Was the picture even taken intentionally or by accident while whosever hands was holding the device was jostling other possessions? Or perhaps they were being attacked and captured the picture unintentionally?
Indeed, the questions, speculation, and theories off the back of the photograph are endless. It certainly doesn’t appear to be an intentional “pose” by the young girl. And is more in line with a picture that has captured a split second of an overall event – such as the girl is about the shout, cry, or even laugh? It is perhaps this that makes it possible the picture was not captured intentionally.
Just What Happened On That Hill?
While many believe the picture is crucial in potentially unlocking the case, nothing conclusive has been taken from it. And most likely, without something else bringing out whatever clues might be there, it will likely stay that way for some time.
Had they really become lost and made their way to the hill to access their situation? Or might they have been arguing (remember the letter), an argument that saw one storm off after the other, Madyson trailing along? Might this explain the look on the young girl’s face? Or might they have arranged to meet one or more people here for unknown reasons?
Whatever did happen, investigators believe that the family would spend around a quarter of an hour on the hill before making their way back to the truck. Or did they? Did the family return to the truck or did just their mobile phones?
If, for example, the family had unwittingly arranged to meet their killers on the hill, might the picture mentioned above have been taken in a struggle to remove the phones from the parents before having them placed back in the truck as part of the plan from whoever was ultimately behind their deaths?
We will move on to some of the theories, suggestions, and seemingly further revealing pieces of information that might shed light on just what did happen to the Jamison family, and indeed if it happened on the hilltop concerned. First, however, we will fast-forward just over four years to November 2013, when a discovery would put to bed rumors that the couple were in a witness protection program or that they had even faked their own deaths.
Not Conclusive But A Real Suggestion Of Murder!
The grim discovery, again made by hunters in the area, around three miles from where the Jamisons’ truck had been abandoned, happened on 16th November 2013. The three bodies – now nothing more than skeletons, and badly decomposed ones at that – were immediately suspected of being those of the three missing Jamisons. Just over six months later in July 2014, it was confirmed to be the case.
However, due to the decomposed state of the remains, a cause of death could not be determined. Given they were found face down in the dirt, it was a pretty accurate guess that the family had been murdered. This was even more likely when a small hole was discovered in the back of Bobby’s skull. Although not conclusive, the hole could very well have been the result of a gunshot wound at close range to the back of the head. This would, of course, suggest an execution-style murder.
However, if the family was murdered, what was the motive? Remember, the thousands of dollars of cash was found in the truck only days after their disappearance, as the adults’ respective purse and wallet. In fact, nothing at all was taken from them. So, it would appear that robbery was certainly not the motivating factor.
From here, the theories would go into overdrive, as would the investigation into what was now a triple homicide case.
A Connection To Satanic Cults?
It would some come to light, for example, at least according to Connie Kokotan, Sherilynn’s mother, that the Jamison’s had connections to a satanic cult. She would apparently state to investigators that the entire family had somehow found themselves on one of these cult’s “hit lists”.
She would even go as far as to state that “Oklahoma is known for that…cults and stuff like that”. Although Connie could provide no proof of this, we know that Sherilynn had an intense interest in the occult, even claiming herself to be a witch? Had she crossed paths with the wrong people somehow in the weeks and days leading up to her disappearance and death?
We should also recall that Bobby had a copy of the Satanic Bible in his possession. A book he was going to use to help rid his home of spirits. Did he, through the book’s teachings have crossed someone from one of these speculative cults? Might he and his family have even been a bizarre sacrifice, perhaps lured to their deaths through their interest and belief in such things? As unlikely as it might be, might Bobby or Sherilynn have even unleashed a force from the other side?
Investigators would follow up on Connie’s claims, but would seemingly find no evidence of any connections between Satanic organizations and the Jamisons. And certainly, nothing to suggest any type of satanic hit list was in circulation.
One piece of intriguing evidence that did surface, though, was video footage from home surveillance cameras the Jamisons had had fitted outside the front of their home. It is there we will turn our attention to next.
Lawsuits And Protective Orders Against Own Family
Before we examine the footage, it is perhaps worth examining, at least according to Bobby Jamison’s mother, who was responsible for having them set up. According to two protective orders from November 2008 and April 2009 (only months before their disappearance), Bobby Jamison had accused his father, Bob Dean Jamison, of threatening to kill him and his wife and daughter.
In the documents, Bobby would describe his father as being involved with “prostitutes, gangs, and meth”, as well as being a “very dangerous man who thinks he is above the law”. Even more alarming, according to the November 2008 document, Bobby claimed his father had “hit me with his vehicle”.
Whatever the truth of the matter, the orders were dismissed by a judge in May 2009, and Bob Dean Jamison, who died in December 2009, was never considered a suspect in the deaths of the family, at least not officially.
It would further come to light that Bobby was suing his parents for a property he was claimed he was owed – a gas station owned by his parents that the lawsuit claimed “Bob Dean Jamison enticed his son to work for free” with the “understanding that the station would be half his” in the future.
What is perhaps interesting to note is that investigators at Latimer County Sheriff’s department would claim it was their belief that the Jamisons were “scammers”. They would reveal how they had sued three other people over a car accident in 2005.
The “Trance-Like” State In The Surveillance Footage
It was also noted how both of the Jamisons appeared to lose a lot of weight in the weeks leading up to their disappearance. This, combined with the large amount of cash discovered stashed in their vehicle, as well as the claims made against Bobby’s father, and the footage on the surveillance cameras would make investigators question whether the Jamison’s themselves were involved in illegal drugs, perhaps even meth.
The footage in question was taken the day of the Jamisons’ disappearance. It shows them seemingly packing their possessions into the truck that was later discovered. However, rather than showing any kind of animated state, each was seemingly the exact opposite. Each would go back and forth into the house carrying boxes, but almost in a “trance of zombie-like state”, not once speaking to each other.
They would make around 20 such journeys back and forth to the house. On occasion, they would stop and seemingly stare vacantly for several moments before returning to their work in the same robot-like manner.
Might it have been that the couple themselves were under the influence of meth, which was at the time rampant in the area, as it was in many places across the United States?
However, given the large amount of cash, investigators began to wonder if the Jaminsons were actually involved in the production or distribution of the drug. Might this have been, for example, why the couple were looking to set up home somewhere away from prying eyes on a large estate?
Perhaps one of the most important discoveries in the video footage is of something that remains missing still today, a brown briefcase that Sherilynn was seen placing into the truck, seemingly ready for the last fateful journey.
You can view that surveillance footage below.
How Important Was That Mystery Brown Briefcase?
Was that brown briefcase of importance? If so, what did it contain? If they were involved in the production and distribution of drugs, was this payment to be made to someone else? Someone who ultimately killed them. And if so, was that the plan on their part all along, or had the Jamisons attempted to double-cross them or underpay them for services unknown? We should recall the feelings (based on years of experience with the family) of the Latimer County Sheriff’s office investigator, Israel Beauchamp who suspected they were “scammers”.
It is Beauchamp’s view that the suitcase likely “held a lot of cash”. And what’s more, the family either left their vehicle where it was found of their own accord to meet an unknown person at a prearranged place, or they were seemingly ambushed at that point and forced to leave the vehicle.
It would seem apparent that the contents of the suitcase were of importance, either to the Jamisons or the unknown perpetrator.
Might the Jamisons’ disappearance and deaths, ultimately have been the result of a “botched drug deal” or an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of someone else in the same area of interest who was perhaps much more ruthless than they?
This is perhaps even more likely when we consider that the mountain ranges the family were looking to escape to are known to be rampant in “meth-labs” where old and out-of-the-way buildings, away from prying eyes, are discreetly set up to produce the drug en masse. What’s more, records show that Bobby had actually made a report of just such a meth lab previously to police. Was the Jamisons’ death an act of revenge for this? Did Bobby do such a thing to clear the way for his own potential enterprise?
A Murder-Suicide? Unlikely, If Not Impossible!
There are other possibilities to the mystery. Some investigators, for example, point to the 11-page hate tirade in the letter written by Sherilynn to her husband. Might it have been, perhaps not on her medication (we do not know if this was the case, just speculation) that Sherilynn might have murdered her husband and her daughter before killing herself?
This theory appeared plausible at first until the discovery of their bodies – in a place that was hard to gain access to and only deer hunters and ramblers would even venture to anyway. This, then, as well as the manner in which their bodies were lined up would suggest the murder-suicide theory is not very likely.
This is even more unlikely when we consider that even if Sherilynn had managed to get her family to go to this isolated destination of their own accord before killing them and then herself, the gun would have been left with the bodies. As it happens, no gun has ever been found. What’s more, only Bobby had even a tentative sign of a bullet wound.
Perhaps we should turn to the words of Niki Shenold once more, who would claim in response to the discovered letter that her friend, in part due to her bipolar condition, would simply write things down that were bothering her at the time (this is a coping mechanism used by many people with bipolar) but would then simply “move on”. In short, it was Niki’s belief that Sherilynn loved her husband deeply, despite the contents of the letter. And would certainly not have harmed her daughter.
Perhaps, then, we should return our attention back to the claims of white supremacy for a moment.
More Apparent Connections To “Hit-Lists!”
Although the lodger who Sherilynn had claimed was a white supremacist was ultimately cleared of suspicion, the issue came up again when a documentary was shown on Investigation Discovery regarding the case. A caller would contact Shenold and state that she herself once belonged to a white supremacist group. Furthermore, she would claim to have seen a book that contained a “hit list” of people who members of the group “had a problem with”.
The mystery woman would further claim that she often memorized some of the names in the book – one of whom was the Jamisons – and upon researching them at home on the Internet, she would discover that many of them were now part of “missing persons” cases.
The caller would even inform Shenold of details she had learned while listening to some of the members of the group speak in the weeks following the family’s disappearance. Perhaps most startling of these were details of a unique insignia on Bobby’s wedding ring, which she claimed hearing several members discussing. According to Shenold, this is a detail that not many people outside of the immediate family and friends (of which there were few) would have known about.
Of more concern, however, was the insinuation that at least one member of the group had an unhealthy interest in Madyson, claiming he stated it “made him feel good” when he sat the young girl on his lap. This would, incidentally or not, tie in with theories expressed by some that the young girl was the target of kidnappers, and the parents’ deaths were a consequence of this, although there is no solid evidence that this is the case.
A Rabbit Warren Of Possibilities
Even if these suggestions are accurate, even in part, what lured the family to their deaths in such a remote spot, and what state of mind were Bobby and Sherilynn in at the time? And if the target was indeed the young girl, why did she end up in the same “graves” as her parents? Of course, they might not have been killed straight away, and the decomposition of the remains means a “time” of death will remain unknown.
There are some theories, at least initially, that the family simply became lost and so left their vehicle to get help. Following that, they got themselves even further lost in the woodlands and mountainous terrain and ultimately perished due to exposure. However, according to most research on the case, this is also unlikely. Perhaps not least due to the seemingly purposely arranged way the bodies were discovered like, side-by-side.
Furthermore, all those who knew the family would state that Bobby would have had little chance of walking very far such was the severity of his back pain and troubles.
The fact is, that leads and areas of suspicion go off in all directions. And while none of these leads offer any conclusive finds or indeed appear stronger than the others, they all have to remain in the picture in the event that further information comes to light.
There is, though, perhaps one outcome that we have examined that is more likely than others. And as speculative as it might be, it is worth out time in quickly pondering it.
The Most Likely Scenario?
Although there was the discovery of $32,000 in cash under the front seat of the truck, by all accounts, the Jamisons were struggling financially in the months leading to their disappearance. It is the belief of some researchers, whether by chance or perhaps through an introduction by his father (if there is any truth to Bobby’s claims) that the Jamisons saw a temporary involvement in the drugs trade as being able to help them leave the neighborhood they so despised. It is also possible that they began using meth during this time, perhaps through anxiety or experimentation, which resulted in the gaunt, this appearance.
Perhaps, with this in mind, they placed “pay-off” money in the brown suitcase believing they could “leave” the industry. Of course, knowing this, their potential contact would kill them, lest the family give up their identity. We should note that the way the truck was parked – veered over on to one side of the road – suggested that the stop was not a planned one. Perhaps, then, they met their potential business partner by pure chance. Or perhaps this speculative partner pursued or confronted them purposely once they realized the family’s plans.
Perhaps we should remind ourselves once more of the “last photograph” of Madyson. What was she watching or witnessing when that was taken? And what happened in the moments after?
Unanswered Questions And Endless Speculation
So, what should we make of this most bizarre, chilling, and undoubtedly horrific affair? That the family was murdered, while not proven, would seem almost beyond doubt. Just who might be responsible for such an act, however, remains unknown. And with no suspects on the radar, it appears this case will become one that will be pondered over by generations of researchers and even investigators for years to come.
Were the Jamisons attempting to nudge their way into the illegal drugs trade and drastically underestimated the response to this from those already working the regions? Did they become involved in one of these networks only to be double-crossed and murdered? If so, what was the purpose? After all, nothing of value was missing – accept, of course, that brown briefcase. With that in mind, then, was it they who attempted to double-cross someone, a move which resulted in their untimely deaths?
Or were they indeed involved in some kind of satanic cult? After all, they appeared to have a genuine fear of “evil spirits” in their home? Did they arrange to meet some or all of this group on the day of their apparent move and ultimately become kidnapped? Might this have been why Bobby appeared to be the only one who was shot? Were the mother and daughter murdered in a sacrificial way?
The questions will continue to arise and, in turn, will most likely remain unanswered. Like many unexplained cases, only someone stepping forward with new information on what happened will likely cast more light on the Jamison family case. Perhaps the fact that it happened so recently means there is still time and the possibility that this might happen. Until that time, however, all that remains is speculation.
Check out the documentary below.
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