NEW ALBANY -- Authorities are continuing to search along the Tallahatchie River to try to find a missing New Albany woman -- who has Chickasaw County connections -- who disappeared earlier this month, Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said late this week.
Meanwhile, family members said they want to see justice done, and they’re praying for a happy resolution to the case.
Jessica Swenor Stacks, 28, was reported missing just after 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 1, the sheriff said. Her parents are Cathy Jones of Okolona and Jerry Swenor of Houston.
Stacks lists her hometown as Houlka, indicates she grew up there, and lists herself as a member of the Houston High School class of 2010, according to a Missing Persons Public Group on Facebook.
School officials declined to confirm any information, citing privacy regulations.
Swenor is her maiden name, and her birthday is June 11, 1992, according to the MPPG on Facebook.
A business owner in New Albany has posted on Facebook offering a reward for information that locates Stacks.
Carla Jones, who is Stacks’ first cousin, briefly outlined the life that brought Stacks to this point.
Stacks graduated from Itawamba Community College. She and Jacob Stacks married, had three children, but then divorced about a year ago, Jones said.
Fast forward to the present. Stacks and a male companion launched a boat in the Tallahatchie River Friday morning, Jan. 1 at County Road 46, the sheriff said.
The two apparently planned to float downstream in the little tin boat. People often shoot wild hogs from the river; it’s unclear if that’s what she and her male companion planned to do, Jones said.
Stacks later got out of the boat, and authorities were notified about 10 p.m. that night after she failed to turn up.
The sheriff declined to identify the man she was with.
Stacks left several footprints behind near the river; she hasn’t been seen since leaving the boat.
Her boots were later found; they had been cut off her. Her coat and gloves were found near her boots. She didn’t have her cell phone with her at the time she left the boat; it was later located and turned in, Jones said.
Searchers combing the area later located the boat about a mile upriver from the Rocky Ford bridge at Etta. Her purse was in the boat, according to Jones.
Said Sheriff Edwards said late Friday afternoon, Jan. 8, from the search site: “There are still about a dozen of us searching for Jessica, down from about 50 when she was first reported missing.”
The searchers include two game wardens from Itawamba County, members of the Union County Search and Rescue and the Union County Sheriff’s Department, as well as an MHP helicopter and a thermal imaging drone.
The search area includes an area from County Road 46 at the Tallahatchie River bridge to the Rocky Ford Bridge on Miss. Highway 30 West in Etta.
Jones said the family is appreciative of searchers’ efforts to find Jessica, but said she has been told of people volunteering to help who have been turned away by authorities.
She doesn’t understand why the help has been refused.
Explained Sheriff Edwards: “It’s tough territory -- a lot of water and ditches, and we have people trained to do this.
“Also, some of that area is private land, and the landowner is not real crazy about people tearing it up.”
Said Jones, her voice breaking: “I remember my baby cousin running around barefoot at our grandmother’s house. Our family is seeking justice in the case. I’m trying to be a voice for her, because she’s not here to speak for herself.”