The group of people with Jessica Hamby in the hours before her disappearance have always maintained that Jessica left walking from the Edwards' home while everyone else was asleep. While people do lie, evidence doesn't. In this episode, the lies are exposed and you'll learn about Jessica's movements right up until she vanished.
Welcome to Secrets True Crime, The Disappearance of Jessica Hamby. I am your host, Amber Sitton. What is done in darkness will eventually come to light. That is the purpose of this podcast...to shine light on the disappearance of Jessica Hamby. Listener discretion is advised. The subject matter may involve violence, sexual content, murder and adult themes this episode does contain foul language. It’s not suitable for younger listeners. This is episode 3 of season 3 of a serialized podcast and the episodes are designed to be listened to in order. This episode is going to contain a great deal of very detailed information. Due to that, there is an episode transcript available to those who would find it helpful.
Jessica Lee Ann Hamby has been missing since January 3rd 2018. At the time of her disappearance, the 24-year-old mother of 3 was a beautiful brunette with big hazel eyes. She had a headful of long, thick hair, was 5’2” tall and weighed about 125 lbs. In the 4.5 years since Jessica was last reported to be seen, the stories regarding her disappearance and fate have been plentiful and the facts scarce. In Season 3 of Secrets True Crime – The Disappearance of Jessica Hamby, we are starting from the beginning and by the beginning, we are beginning with Jessica’s life 6 months prior to her disappearance. We are going to focus on the details and try to discern fact from fiction. In this season, as always, you’ll hear from private investigator Michael Fleming. You will also hear from a special guest. Private Investigator Jeff Means with Sound Mind Investigations has been working on Jessica’s case from almost the beginning. He has devoted thousands of man hours and uncountable resources to this case. Jeff’s hard work has given us a head start in this case.
Before we move into this episode, we have something we need to correct and clarify. In the last episode, we noted that Jessica’s drug of choice was heroin. That was the information we received but like many other aspects of this case, it’s another detail in which we’ve received conflicting information. Last week, Michael interviewed a friend of Jessica’s. This friend, whom you may hear from directly in the future, was adamant with Michael that Jessica was not a frequent heroin user. The friend WAS a heroin user and she described Jessica pleading with her to stop using heroin. She also confirmed what we’d already been told. Heroin was not readily available in that area at the time of Jessica’s disappearance. The woman told Michael that she had to travel to either Birmingham or Tuscumbia to obtain heroin during that time period and that most everyone in that area was using meth or ice. Maybe assumptions were made about the heroin because Jessica asked Travis Jackson if he could get it. While the easiest conclusion to reach would be that Jessica was looking for the heroin for herself, we have to also consider the possibility that she was trying to obtain it for someone else. In fact, as we looked back over Jessica’s messages after receiving this new information, we noticed that the context of Jessica’s messages about the heroin could be interpreted either way. Jessica sent Travis a message that said: Lemme make some calls. Can you get any boy? Seconds later she sent him another message that read: if so, I can borrow a car. Those messages could be interpreted in 2 ways. Jessica wasn’t interested in going to pick Travis up unless he could provide her with heroin or someone would be willing to allow Jessica to borrow their car in exchange for heroin.
Michael followed up on this new information with Jessica’s mom, Lynn. Lynn told Michael that while Jessica had dabbled with heroin use, Jessica’s drug of choice was ice and if she couldn’t get that, she’d use roxies or benzos to get her by.
In the last episode, we stepped through the rest of the night of January 2nd and morning of January 3rd 2018. We presented the many Facebook and SMS text messages Jessica sent, and some of the context and content of those messages. Those would be the last known contacts anyone had with Jessica. We showed that Jessica’s message activities indicate that she wasn’t sleeping very much if at all that night.
Other than sending messages, just what was Jessica doing during the night and the morning hours?
The traditional story has been that the group—Eric, Alicia, Derek, and Jessica—left Gilbert’s camper and traveled to the Edwards’ home on Elgin Cochran Road. Not many details have emerged about what the group did that night, although Derek told law enforcement that he and Jessica had sex in a closet at the Edwards’ home and promptly fell asleep. Louise Edwards told Jeff that was Derek’s intention and why they picked her up, because they were planning to be together however, nothing in Jessica’s extensive communications give any credence to this. We will come back to that story in a bit. In addition to Raymond, Louise and Eric, there were at least 2 others who resided at the home. Both were female relatives and both were minors, ages 14 and 17 at the time of Jessica’s disappearance. The 14 year old whom we will refer to by the fictitious name, Ann, has made numerous statements that she saw Jessica in her bathroom around 6 am. Interviews with the people living at the house do reflect knowledge that Jessica was trying to get a ride for Travis who was said to be in Red Bay. Alicia wrote in a message to Jessica’s mother:
I fucking gave her ass somewhere to stay because she said she had no fucking where to go, that’s it, she wanted a ride to her ‘dudes’ in redbay and I aint got a car. She left while we were asleep.
Louise Edwards told Jeff this: Y’all know by the phone thing that she left here that morning…Eric told me she had no, she had no minutes. That’s what he said she said she had no minutes. Now she he said she told him she had no minutes…she could have been on our Wifi ‘til she got out there and it died. (Louise 5-31, 22:51, 23:05)
For the record, we do know that Jessica DID have minutes on her phone.
What has been consistent in this story is that no mention has been made of any of the group leaving the Edwards’ home that night, except that Jessica was able to slip out of the double-wide trailer while everyone slept, and she was gone when they woke on the morning of January 3rd. The family even gave the name of a witness that reportedly saw Jessica walking down their driveway that morning while he was looking for some lost motorcycle keys in the area.
One thing Louise Edwards was right about is that we know certain things “by the phone thing.” In fact, law enforcement has used at least two tools to gather information about that night from electronic device records. One of those tools is geofencing, which uses a series of search warrants to obtain mobile device location information from Google. Geofencing is tied to a specific geographical area and a defined period of time, and can help identify who was potentially within that area during that time. Once those devices and the owners are identified, if law enforcement can articulate probable cause for additional warrants, location information for those devices can be obtained for a period of time before and after the timeframe of the original geofence warrant. In other words, law enforcement can potentially discover where those devices were before arriving inside the geofence, and where they went afterwards. In the case of Jessica, geofencing showed Jessica and Brooke’s device leaving Lakeland and arriving at Gilbert’s camper, then showed Brooke departing Gilbert’s a short time later and traveling to Cullman County.
Michael: Geofencing can reveal hyper-accurate location information for the devices caught in its net. It isn’t always reliable, however, for reasons that we won’t go into. Geofencing is a very useful and important tool for law enforcement, and we won’t go into details that could potentially help criminals thwart an investigation. Suffice it to say that we’ve seen enough geofencing results to consider the information a very valuable resource for leads, but we don’t consider it infallible evidence. Just because a person’s device does not show up in a geofence report does not necessarily mean it—or they—weren’t there. Similarly, if the geofencing report doesn’t show that a device left the area, it doesn’t necessarily mean that device is still there. This is especially important in Jessica’s case. Geofencing showed her device arriving at Gilbert’s camper, but did not show it ever leaving. Statements from the witnesses present agree that she did in fact leave Gilbert’s, and that she traveled to Elgin Cochran Road. Thankfully, there is another tool that law enforcement put to use that can confirm or deny those statements.
Call Detail Records obtained by search warrant from the cell phone carrier can reveal a lot of information. We presented some of that information in Episode 2, when we talked about the phone calls and SMS text messages Jessica sent that night. Those records usually include information about the cell towers the device was connected to, along with other information that can be used to determine the relative location of the device such as the directional azimuth from the tower to the device and the beamwidth of the transmission. What is great about this data is that it does not require GPS location services to be active on the phone, and the information is recorded by the carrier any time a registered device connects to the tower for a call, message, or to use mobile data. Unlike GPS-based location services, this isn’t precision location data, but is very useful for determining the relative area of a device. More importantly, it’s very good at determining where a device is NOT located. A very important factor in using cell tower information to determine the location of a device is signal strength, as that is the primary variable used in determining distance from the tower. Many factors other than distance can affect signal strength, including terrain, electromagnetic interference, and shielding from vegetation and structures.
Cell phone carriers have developed algorithms that account for those factors and can further narrow down the area where a device is located. Reports that use those algorithms can also be obtained by law enforcement with a search warrant. AT&T, the carrier for Jessica and Eric’s phones, refers to those reports as Network Event Location System or NELOS. As previously mentioned, NELOS does not provide precision location information, and is simply a mathematical estimation of the device’s location. The estimated position reflected by NELOS is given in two parts. The first part is a GPS position that correlates to a specific point on the ground. The second part is an accuracy range–a circular radius around that GPS position. These two data parts must be considered together, so that describing a NELOS position includes both the location and the range, as in “located within 1000 meters of X” where X is the position and 1000 meters is the accuracy range.
One caveat to NELOS is that the location information contained within the report is not a continuous track of the device’s location; location information is recorded when the device makes contact with the tower–making a phone call or sending a text message, or using data. So movement of the device can and often does occur between the times and points given on the NELOS report, and if the phone isn’t used at all it is conceivable that a round trip movement of the device would not be documented at all. Jessica was using her phone to send text and Facebook messages most of the night, which generated some 89 location points on her NELOS report, but we know from her records that there were times she was connected to Wifi rather than using cell data, so those periods do not appear in the NELOS report. Wifi signal is, for the most part, static, however–connecting to a Wifi router in someone’s home has limited range, so you can’t drive down the road from that house and still be connected to it. The exception to that is the use of a mobile hotspot–in those cases you would need the call detail records from the hotspot to obtain NELOS location information. We know that Jessica had her phone’s mobile hotspot turned on at one point in the night, which generated some of her NELOS positions because she was using and sharing data with someone else. Some of the times that she was on Wifi that night seem to indicate that she was connected to someone else’s hotspot, because the IP address her phone was using is owned by AT&T Mobility.
Amber: As we mentioned, the geofencing did not show Jessica’s phone leaving Gilbert’s camper after she met Alicia and the others there. In Episode 2, you heard that Gilbert said the group left around or after midnight and they did not return. Jessica’s NELOS positions started in Haleyville at 9 pm on January 2nd, and revealed the route that she traveled with Brooke and Jonathan to get to Gilbert’s camper. That route was confirmed by the information in the geofencing that was obtained by the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation. When Jessica arrived at Gilbert’s camper, she sent a message to Eric’s messenger saying “Here,” and then she called his phone for 34 seconds. That phone call generated a NELOS point at 10:07 PM and Gilbert’s camper is in the accuracy range of that point. Her phone generated additional NELOS points that are in range of Gilbert’s trailer at 10:11, 10:13, and 10:22 as well. In fact, the NELOS points at 10:13 and 10:22 are at the exact same position and range.
This is where statements given by numerous individuals begin to conflict with the actual evidence. Here’s Michael:
Michael: At 10:27 pm, the signal strength between Jessica’s phone and the cell tower drops. The accuracy range of the NELOS position increases dramatically, from 5000 meters to 25,000 meters. That’s an increase in the radius from 3.1 miles to 15.5 miles, so it’s conceivable she could have been anywhere from Harper’s Junction to State Rock, or halfway to Hackleburg. So you have to consider her positions before and after 10:27 to narrow that down–how far could she have traveled away from Gilbert’s trailer in those 5 minutes.
At 10:29 pm her cell signal got stronger, and the accuracy went back down to 5000 meters. That’s still a big circle, but now we have more information that narrows down what she could have done. First, the accuracy range for her position at 10:29 pm means she could not have been at Gilbert’s camper. She also could not have been on Elgin Cochran Rd. Secondly, she traveled a distance of roughly 4 miles in those 7 minutes, going in a southwesterly direction, so she was moving at a speed of at least 35 miles per hour. If you account for getting into and out of a vehicle, 45 seconds on either side of the trip, that increases the necessary speed to about 45 miles per hour. There is only one road you can travel that speed on between the two points, and it’s US Highway 43. If you travel south on Highway 43 from Gilbert’s for about 5 minutes, you’ll arrive at Harper’s Junction, the area where State Route 187 intersects with US-43. There is a Citgo gas station there, which would have been open at 10:30 pm, but a friend of Shane’s also lived nearby. The area around that friend’s house is a location that Shane, Eric, and Alicia all visited at various times in the weeks following Jessica’s disappearance.
Jessica’s next two NELOS points reverse that process: first her signal strength drops, then gets better and puts her back within range of Gilbert’s camper at 10:33 pm. Based on this analysis, it appears that just before 10:30 pm Jessica left Gilbert’s and went to Harper’s Junction, then she went back to Gilbert’s camper. Her NELOS position and signal strength bounces around some after 10:33 pm but Gilbert’s camper remains in range, and by 10:40 pm her position is reported at the exact same location and range as it was at 10:13 and 10:22–back at Gilbert’s camper. Her NELOS puts her in the same spot at 10:44 and 10:47 pm as well.
Amber: None of the statements that we know about, to Jeff or Law Enforcement, mention someone leaving Gilbert’s and making a run to that gas station or anywhere else. The story has always been that they were at Gilbert’s until Shane Reynolds drove them down Elgin Cochran Road and dropped them off at Eric’s. When Michael questioned Shane Reynolds, Shane said that he wasn’t initially at Gilbert’s camper. He said that he was at a friend’s house at Harper’s Junction when Eric contacted him, asking him to pick the group up at Gilbert’s and take them to his house, which he says he did, driving his mother’s Chevy Malibu. Gilbert’s statement to Michael was that Shane was there at the camper with the rest of them the entire time, and he thought Shane was driving his burgundy colored pickup, and that Eric had driven there in either his white Tahoe or Louise Edwards’ blue Nissan. This is another one of those discrepancies in Gilbert’s statements to Michael that we mentioned in the last episode and this one is one that can be proven false by the evidence. Jessica’s cellphone records tell us two things: 1) there was someone at Gilbert’s camper with a vehicle around 10:30 pm, and 2) they drove it and Jessica’s phone to Harpers Junction, then went back to Gilbert’s.
Michael: At 10:50 pm, Jessica’s signal strength drops again. As we mentioned before, this doesn’t necessarily mean movement to a new area, it could simply reflect a drop of signal from moving around a building, getting in a vehicle, or something else that shielded the cell signal to the tower. To analyze those drops in signal strength, we have to look at them within the context of the other location points before and after the drop in signal. At 10:54, her signal strength increased, providing a smaller range of accuracy. At that time, her position moved approximately 5 miles west of Gilbert’s camper, and was at least 2 miles away from Gilbert’s and at least 3 miles away from Eric’s house. This again conflicts with the statements that have been made by the people who have admitted they were present with Jessica at that time. At just before 11 pm, Jessica’s device left Gilbert’s camper for the second time, and traveled in the opposite direction of Eric Edward’s residence. The speed necessary for those movements again indicates a vehicle was involved, and the most likely route that vehicle traveled was west on County Road 41. You’ll recall from Episode 2, this was around the time Jessica started exchanging text messages with Brooke, the woman that gave her a ride from detox. From there she likely traveled on County Road 29, getting to that road by traveling on an unpaved cutover road, either County Rd 330 or County Rd 180. Jessica’s phone remained in the area off County Road 29 for only a short time. NELOS clearly indicates that between 10:57 and 10:59 pm, her device could not have been at Gilbert’s camper or anywhere on Elgin Cochran Road. At 10:57 pm, Derek Motes sent a message to Eric Edwards on Facebook saying “Let’s go to your house bro.” At 10:59 pm Derek sent another message to Eric: “Let’s go bro.”
Amber: This would be a good time to note that the messages between Eric and Derek were found in Eric’s Facebook records but not Derek’s. Law enforcement obtained Derek’s records too. While Derek isn’t the only one who deleted messages and information in their facebook account from January 2nd and 3rd, he is the only one who completely wiped his account of most if not all of the data. To put it in perspective for you, Shane Reynolds Facebook records are 4,332 pages. Eric Edwards records are 191 pages. Alicia’s records are 154 pages. Jessica’s records are 593 pages. Derek Motes’ records consist of 4 blank pages. Of course, you have to consider that maybe Derek just wasn’t an avid Facebook user but that theory is easily disproved when there are extensive messages with Derek and others that show up on the others Facebook records.
Michael: By 11:09 pm, Jessica was moving east again, taking a similar route back towards Elgin Cochran Road. On the way, however, she stopped for about 5 minutes in the area of State Route 187, possibly along one of those dirt cutover roads.
By 11:26 pm, Jessica’s movements and phone location indicate she was likely on Elgin Cochran Rd and probably at Eric’s house. Gilbert’s camper was also within range of her location at that time, but the center point for her location is further east and south, which is only possible by traveling the 1 ¼ mile down Elgin Cochran Rd to where Eric lived. She could not have been there long though, no more than 10 or 15 minutes, because by 11:38 pm she was again outside of the range of both Eric’s and Gilbert’s, and was very likely traveling along County Rd 29.
Amber: County Road 29 runs north to south, somewhat parallel to US-43 between Hackleburg and Hamilton. On the north end, 29 terminates in an intersection with State Route 187, which leads to Hodges; On the southern end, 29 becomes Military Trail entering the city of Hamilton before terminating at an intersection with US-43. Drive testing along County Road 29 indicates a lot of variance in cell signal strength, likely due to the hilly, rocky terrain and vegetation. There are only a few paved side roads off of that stretch of County Road 29, and several unpaved roads that lead to privately owned timber plots that are leased to a hunting club. Within one of those areas west of County Road 29 is a popular destination for people to hang out and often manufacture or use illegal drugs: Rideout Falls. Although Rideout Falls is on private property and they would be trespassing to go there, many people have told us that location is a popular hangout. Shane Reynolds described partying at this location in some of his facebook messages. He spoke of the waterfall and having bonfires at their frequent parties there.
While many, both in and out of law enforcement, view NELOS data as an inferior source of information, it has a long and established history of use in the criminal justice system. While it may lack the precision and accuracy of GPS-based location information recorded by the device, or the frequency and abundance of data points, it is well suited for confirming or denying the general area where a device was or could have been at a specific time. NELOS may not be able to prove in court that someone was inside a store when a theft occurred rather than sitting in the parking lot 100 feet away, but it is more than adequate to prove that the device was 5 or 10 miles down the road at the time of that theft. Another benefit of NELOS is that it is less susceptible to tampering with than the use of the device’s GPS–there are ways to spoof GPS location on devices and corrupt the device’s logs that record location information; since NELOS originates at the cell tower and makes use of data that is not available to the device or user, the information provided in call detail records meets a higher standard of integrity, at the expense of precision. In a mostly rural area like the area north of Hamilton, the accuracy range of NELOS is not as problematic since the relative speed of travel between points can help determine what roads are being traveled between points. The bottom line is that while NELOS might be old school and it might not be the new shiny penny that geofencing is, when geofencing data isn’t available, you have to use what you’ve got whether you like it or not.
Our analysis of Jessica’s NELOS data reveals major inconsistencies in the statements and stories that have been told over the years, and the evidence becomes more revealing at 11:42 pm on January 2nd. Remember, this is close to the time that Gilbert thought the group left his camper, and Shane told Michael that he drove them from Gilbert’s camper to Eric’s, stopping first at Eric’s camper and then going to the double wide trailer where Eric lived with his parents and cousins. It is also in the middle of the first lull in Jessica’s communications that we identified in Episode 2–from 11:34 pm on January 2nd to 12:01 am on January 3rd, Jessica was not communicating with anyone via text or Facebook.
Michael: At 11:42 pm on January 2nd, Jessica’s phone had one of the tightest accuracy ranges since she arrived at Gilbert’s camper, a range of only 1000 meters or a little over a half mile radius. Her location at that time was the area where County Road 29 and County Road 75 merge to become Military Trail, just north of Hamilton. This area is hilly and rocky, and there are only 5 roads and a handful of residences within range of her location. Her more precise location at 11:42 is within the range of her location at 11:38 and 11:44 as well, indicating she could have been at that spot or on her way to or from it at those times as well. The bottom line is, we can say with very high confidence that between 11:38 and 11:44 pm, Jessica was more than 5 miles southwest of Elgin Cochran Road.
At 11:52 pm, Jessica is still in the area of County Road 29 and too far outside the accuracy range to be on Elgin Cochran Road. In fact, her NELOS data puts her close to the hunting club areas that we mentioned, and is centered close to a church where one of the unpaved cutover roads between County Rd 29 and State Road 187 ends. Jessica’s phone remained in that exact spot for 5 reports, from 11:52 pm on January 2nd to 12:25 am on January 3rd, but she was possibly there longer since her next point doesn’t appear until 12:50 am. That point is closer, but still outside of the range of anywhere on Elgin Cochran Rd. She has several more points at that exact location, and appears to have remained there until about 1:10 am on January 3rd.
Amber: From 1:12 am until 1:20 am, NELOS was not able to determine the accuracy of Jessica’s phone location, but a minute later there was enough information to place her west of US-43 and Elgin Cochran Road, and she remained there for about 8 minutes, until 1:29 am. Drive testing of the cell network in that area revealed one point on US-43 between State Route 187 and Elgin Cochran Rd where cell signal was greatly diminished, but not entirely gone; drive testing on Elgin Cochran Road, however, revealed multiple places where cell signal was completely lost, including towards the southern end of the road where Shane Reynolds lived. While it can’t be proven with the data we have, it is interesting to note that the two poor accuracy points at 1:12 and 1:20 am are nearly on top of Shane’s residence.
At 1:32 am, Jessica’s phone again had increased signal strength, giving a location point along County Road 29. Like the point at 11:42 pm, this point was accurate to 1000 meters or just over a half mile radius. There are only 2 roads within that range, and only 10 residences; the rest is either open agricultural land or wooded timber forests. There are a number of vehicle traversable trails within the timber forest that can be accessed from the County Road 180 cutover previously mentioned, and given the time it took her to get from that area to her next point, it seems likely that she was on one of those timber forest tracks. Wherever Jessica was at 1:32, we can say with high confidence it was not on Elgin Cochran Road, and she was not there for long. By 1:39 am, Jessica was most likely on Elgin Cochran Rd and Eric’s house is within the accuracy range. That said, the center point for her location at that time is over a half mile further south than when we believe NELOS indicates she was at Eric’s at 11:33 pm on January 2nd, but that difference could indicate she went to Eric’s camper at 11:33 pm, and at 1:39 am she went to the double wide trailer where the Edwards’ family lived. This supposition is consistent with part of Shane Reynold’s story, that he dropped the group off at Eric’s camper first, then they went to the double wide trailer, although the timing and Jessica’s previous locations conflict with most of Shane’s story. It is also possible that her location at 1:39 am was at another house, further south on Elgin Cochran Rd. Either way, we believe the second time Jessica was on Elgin Cochran Road that night occurred at 1:39 am. This return to Elgin Cochran Road corresponds with the 2nd lull in Jessica’s conversations that we identified in Episode 2–from 1:34 am to 2:49 am, Jessica was completely silent. Jessica’s next NELOS point corresponds with the end of that period of silence. At 2:42 am and 2:49 am, Jessica’s location is within 1500 feet of where she was for 8 minutes at 1:29 am, an area that includes part of County Road 41 and State Highway 187, and a short cutover between the two, County Road 473. In fact, the center point for Jessica’s position at 2:42 and 2:49 am is very close to a small building and basketball court owned by nearby Shiloh Baptist Church.
Before we continue following Jessica’s movements in the early morning hours of January 3rd, there are a couple of other points from the investigation we need to share. The first comes from the information Gilbert shared with Michael, some of which we presented in Episode 2.
Michael: Gilbert said that Jessica, Alicia, Derek, and Eric left his camper as a group. He thought that happened at about midnight or 12:30 am on January 3rd. At what he believed was about 1 or 1:30 am, Gilbert says he was awoken by the sound of an ATV driving past on US-43 in front of the campers. He added that Eric’s dad had one of those off-road ATVs and that was what he thought woke him up. About 20 or 30 minutes later, 1:30 or 2 am if Gilbert’s timing is correct, he heard a machine operating down at the work site. The work site was located up the dirt road from the campers, at the job site where the new bridge was being built. The equipment was parked overnight on the job site. He says he told this to the previous investigators because it was strange and nobody had any business operating equipment at the site at that time of night and that all the workers were off. The next day, Gilbert’s “boss man” said the Track Hoe had been moved, and Gilbert said he saw off-road ATV tire tracks around the heavy equipment that had been parked overnight. If you consider that Gilbert’s recollection of the time could be off, NELOS information could indicate that Jessica was in the area at that time.
Amber: This is also a good place to talk about Eric Edwards’ call detail reports. Law enforcement obtained Eric’s phone records from 1 am to midnight on January 3rd, and the first NELOS location for his phone puts him at his house at 1:14 am, during the time Jessica’s phone had poor signal and NELOS reported no accuracy information, but did place her on Elgin Cochran Road. Eric’s next NELOS point is at 2:04 am, during Jessica’s period of silence while she was at Eric’s house. According to Eric’s NELOS point at 2:04 am, his phone was not at home or even in range of Elgin Cochran Rd. His center point at that time was over 5 miles west of his house, in the hunting club area between County Roads 29 and 75. There aren’t enough data points in his NELOS to determine what time he left home or what route he took to get there, but we have high confidence that while Jessica was on Elgin Cochran Rd not sending any messages, Eric’s phone was not there. So while we can’t say for certain from NELOS alone, it is plausible that both Eric’s device and Jessica’s were in the area of Elgin Cochran Rd close to the time that Gilbert says someone was operating a Track Hoe at the jobsite, and that Eric’s device left the area shortly afterwards. What we are certain of, especially in light of the conversations that Jessica continued to have in the morning hours of January 3rd, is that Jessica was still alive and sending messages on her phone after Gilbert heard the equipment being operated at the job site and also well after all the bridge workers arrived at the job site for work at 6:30 am that morning.
Another point we want to add here is that Derek Motes claimed to law enforcement that he and Jessica had sex that night. He said this happened at Eric’s house, in a closet while Eric and Alicia were in the bed, and that they fell asleep afterwards. When he woke the next day, Jessica was gone. If this is true, it would seem most likely that it happened during this period of Jessica being silent on messenger and text while she was at Eric’s residence, between 1:39 am and 2:42 am.
Based on the roads and time between adjacent points, it seems most likely that Jessica left the area she was in near County Road 41 and State Route 187 at 2:49, and traveled south on State Route 187 to Harper’s Junction, then continued south on US-43 into Hamilton. At 3:17 am, Jessica’s NELOS recorded another point of higher accuracy with a 1000 meter accuracy radius. This point was centered in Hamilton, near the intersection of Autumn Street and 2nd St Northwest. Accounting for the accuracy range, she was certainly within the northwest portion of Hamilton, and could not have been further south than the courthouse or police station.
Michael: Jessica’s phone didn’t stay in Hamilton very long, and by 3:22 am she was heading north and back in the area of Elgin Cochran Road briefly at 3:27 am. At 3:30 we see the next NELOS point for Eric’s device, and it includes an anomaly. At 3:30 and 27 seconds, Eric’s phone is in the same relative spot as it was at 2:04, around the hunting club area between County Roads 29 and 75, and well out of range of his house on Elgin Cochran Road. Just 30 seconds later, Eric’s next NELOS point puts him squarely at home, with a 50 meter accuracy range. This is impossible, even if Eric was flying a commercial jet at full speed. We can only speculate about how this occurred, but it occurred again at 3:31 am, this time with one point near the intersection of County Roads 29 and 75 at 3:31:02, and 2 more points at his house at 3:31:11. Notwithstanding this anomaly, Eric’s position near County Road 29 and County Road 75 is very close and has an overlapping range with Jessica’s location at 11:42 pm on January 2nd. We will revisit this anomaly with Eric’s call detail report a little later.
At 3:39 am, Jessica’s phone was back in the northwest area of Hamilton, well away from Elgin Cochran Road. Just 3 minutes later, Eric’s phone was in the same area, most likely at the end of 2nd Street Northwest and certainly between Military Trail and Bexar Avenue. The center points for the two devices were only 1600 feet apart. They also appear to have arrived there separately and by different routes.
At 3:42 am, Jessica’s phone had moved north on County Road 29, and stopped for about 8 minutes. At 3:52 am Eric’s phone is back at his house on Elgin Cochran Road, but a minute later we see the anomaly again, and Eric’s device appears in northwest Hamilton. At 4:02 am, Jessica’s device had returned to northwest Hamilton as well, with her center point again located along 2nd St NW near Academy Drive.
Amber: After we started Season 3 on Jessica’s disappearance, we received information about a story that someone overheard Shane Reynolds tell. In this story, Shane admitted to driving Jessica into Hamilton to get cigarettes at a gas station. There was only one gas station in downtown Hamilton that was open 24/7 in January of 2018, and the accuracy radius for Jessica’s position at 4:02 am would allow for her to have been there–that position was the furthest south that her call detail report indicates she traveled. If true, that would mean that Shane Reynolds was the one that drove Jessica into Hamilton at 4:02 am, and possibly was the one driving her on some of her other trips. When Michael interviewed Shane, he asked him directly about that story, asking if he drove Jessica to that store at any point that night. Shane denied driving Jessica anywhere except when he picked up the group from Gilbert’s camper and took them to Eric’s.
Michael: One minute later, at 4:03 am, Eric’s device is again at his house on Elgin Cochran Road. At 4:07 am, Jessica’s device again was moving north on County Road 29, well outside the range to be on Elgin Cochran Road.
Jessica’s next NELOS point was almost an hour later, at 5:04 am, and she was back in the area of State Route 187 and County Road 41. At 5:35 am, Eric’s phone had moved to the same area, but at 5:48 am, Jessica’s phone moved further west, back to the area between State Route 187 and County Road 29, with her center point along the County Road 180 cutover.
At 6:03 am, Jessica’s phone was closer to County Road 29 and near the hunting club and New Hope Baptist Church.
Amber: At some point between 6:03 am and 6:58 am, Jessica returned to Elgin Cochran Road, most likely to the Edwards’ residence. This seems to fit with Jessica’s messages because at 5:50 am, Jessica sent a message that read “I gotta shower, let it get daylight. Ann, the 14 year old female who lived in the Edwards’ home, told law enforcement and private investigator Jeff Means that she encountered Jessica that morning. Ann was in the 7th grade at that time and said that she normally woke up at 6:00 am to go to school. She stated that even though she didn’t have school on January 3, 2018, she often woke up around that time out of habit. She has stated in numerous interviews that she woke up that morning and needed to use the bathroom and that is where she ran into Jessica. She indicated she didn’t look at a clock but she believed it to be around 6 am. Ann described opening the door to her bathroom and finding an unknown female standing there that she later learned was Jessica. She said that Jessica screamed when she opened the door. Ann told law enforcement and Jeff that she ran to her parents bedroom to wake them up to tell them that someone was in her bathroom. In an interview with a law enforcement officer named Kenny Hallmark, Ann told him that she woke her parents up but they didn’t care about this woman being in her bathroom. Per the transcript of the interview done by Kenny Hallmark, Ann stated that her parents told her to leave them alone and that they didn’t care and then her parents went back to sleep. Ann told Hallmark this: And then I walked, I walked back in the bathroom and said, “Get out of my house right now, I don’t want you here,” then I went back to sleep and woke up.”
Ann also told Hallmark that she saw Eric sitting on the floor in his room. She stated that he had a bunch of phones and tools on the floor around him. She said he was messing with a phone. In a later interview with private investigator Jeff Means, Ann and other family members gave a little better explanation of this. They said that Eric worked on phones especially when he was using meth. Ann also told him that Alicia and Derek were sitting on Eric’s bed and they were listening to music. Hallmark specifically asked Ann if she went to the bathroom before she went back to sleep in her bed and she said no. She said she just went back to her room and went to sleep. She told him that she slept until around 11:00 am and that when she woke up, Jessica, Eric, Derek Motes and Alicia Motes were all gone. Hallmark asked Ann what Jessica was doing when she opened the bathroom door. Ann said Jessica was just standing there about to take a shower. She said Jessica had on a red shirt. She described Jessica as looking geeked out. When Hallmark questioned her more about what gave her that impression, Ann indicated she thought that was the only reason Jessica would have been screaming when she opened up the bathroom door on her and she also noted that she just thought Jessica looked like she was geeked out.
Private investigator Jeff Means interviewed Ann twice. While we opted not to use the actual audio recordings Jeff made of these interviews, we do have those interviews and the following information came directly from these audio recordings. In Jeff’s 1st interview with Ann, she told him that Jessica was in her bathroom and she thought Jessica was about to take a shower. She said when she walked into the bathroom, Jessica started screaming. Ann told him she saw a pipe in the bathroom with Jessica. She said the drug in the pipe was white. Per the transcript, Ann did not mention a pipe in her interview with law enforcement officer Kenny Hallmark. Ann told Jeff that Eric and Alicia were in Eric’s bedroom. She said Eric was sitting on the floor and he and Alicia were going through phones. Louise Edwards spoke up and told Jeff that when Eric is doing meth, he always messes with electronics and another family member noted that Eric fixes phones. Ann stated that Derek was asleep on the living room couch and he did not wake up. This is another deviation from her previous statement to Kenny Hallmark. Ann told Hallmark that Derek and Alicia were sitting on Eric’s bed listening to music. Ann told Jeff that after she ran into her parents’ bedroom to tell them about Jessica being in her bathroom, she went to her bedroom and went back to sleep.
In Jeff’s 2nd interview with Ann, he asked her many of the same questions Hallmark did but he continued to get different answers. Ann again told Jeff that she saw a pipe in the bathroom with Jessica but this time she said the drugs in the pipe were brown and not white as she stated in their first interview. In this interview, Ann stated she used a different bathroom before she went back to bed. Ann told Jeff when she woke up her parents, Raymond and Louise Edwards, to tell them a woman was in her bathroom, Raymond told her to just use their bathroom so she did. In the very same interview, minutes later, Jeff asked Ann if Raymond even woke up when she went to their bedroom. Ann replied no in a soft voice at the same time Louise Edwards spoke in a much louder voice to at first say that she couldn’t remember if he woke up or not and then she came to the conclusion that she didn’t think that Raymond ever did wake up when Ann came to their room. Jeff asked Ann how long it took her to go back to sleep once she went back to bed that morning. Ann told him she stayed awake in her bed for a couple hours before she fell asleep again. In this interview, she stuck to the story that Derek was asleep on the couch in their living room. Early on in this interview with Jeff, just as she’d told law enforcement officer Kenny Hallmark, she said that when she woke up, Jessica, Eric, Derek and Alicia were all gone. However, later in this same interview, she told Jeff Means that Eric, Derek and Alicia were still home when she woke up that morning but Jessica was gone.
Jeff also interviewed Raymond Edwards and he asked him about Ann coming into his and Louise’s room that morning. Raymond stated that Louise told him that Ann came to their room that morning while Raymond was in their bathroom and Ann got mad because she couldn’t use that bathroom either.
One other thing to note. In one of the interviews with Louise in which other family members were present, they stated that Jessica stole the 17 year old minor’s shoes that had been left in the bathroom. Raymond also mentioned this when he spoke to Jeff. Interestingly enough, the stolen shoes were not mentioned to Kenny Hallmark or in any of the other numerous interviews Jeff did with Louise and family.
It’s difficult to know what to make of the major variations in Ann’s accounts of the morning of January 3rd but I do know this. The truth doesn’t change and it definitely doesn’t change to the degree you’ve heard here.
Michael: At 6:10 am, Eric’s phone was most likely near the intersection of County Roads 20 and 29. He was still in that area, likely further south and within the hunting club again, at 6:20 am, when we see the anomaly happen again, this time only 1 second apart. At 6:20:08 Eric appeared at home, and at 6:20:09 he appeared in the hunting club area. 10 seconds later, he pinged at home again at 6:20:19. This anomaly is unique to Eric’s phone–we don’t see it occur at all with Jessica’s phone, which was on the same network and in the same general area during this time. While we can’t say for certain at this point, one possible explanation for the anomaly with Eric’s phone could lie in the statements about what Eric was doing when Ann discovered Jessica in her bathroom. He was working on phones. It seems possible that Eric’s phone may have been cloned, and that one phone was at the house and in use, while the other was traveling around the area near County Road 29. We don’t have enough data from the cell carrier to determine if this explanation is possible, but it does seem plausible. If that is the case, either Ann is mistaken about who was present when she found Jessica in her bathroom, or there was another person with an Eric phone that was away from the house that morning. If you are listening to this podcast and happen to be an expert in cell phone forensics, please contact us. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this anomaly.
Amber: At 6:58 am, Jessica was still within range of Eric’s residence and was most likely there finishing up her shower. At 7:31 she was on the move, and by 7:33 am she was in northwest Hamilton once again. We are extremely confident that the times Jessica’s NELOS indicates she was in Hamilton are accurate because all but one of them have accuracy ranges better than 1000 meters, including the one at 7:33 am. Because of that tight accuracy radius, it is nearly impossible for her to have been anywhere on or even close to Elgin Cochran Road, and the travel time clearly indicates that she was in a vehicle.
From Episode 2, you’ll recall that at 7:51 am, Jessica broke her silence with Eric’s Facebook account. You’ll remember that she had been communicating with Alicia over Eric’s account on her way from Lakeland to Gilbert’s camper, but had stopped messaging that account after she arrived. The message was “Hey they ain’t gonna shoot me for walking.” Jessica’s next position point came at 7:52 am and she had very poor signal, so that point only indicates the cell tower’s location on Buttahatchee Drive, off US-43. At the same time, Eric’s NELOS reported two positions with different accuracy ranges, but both were located at his house on Elgin Cochran Road. 1 minute later, at 7:53 am, Jessica tried calling Eric’s phone directly, but he did not answer and her call went to voicemail. That call triggered Jessica’s last NELOS position, which had a 5000 meter accuracy radius and was centered in the hunting club area off County Road 29 near New Hope Baptist Church, nearly 5 miles west of Eric’s home.
For over 4 years, in multiple interviews with Jeff Means and law enforcement, relatives of Eric Edwards have consistently commented that Jessica walked off their property that morning while they slept. In some of those interviews, they’ve stated that Jessica wanted to watch the sun come up, and even that Eric cautioned her not to go in a certain direction because there are bluffs around the property. They have offered an explanation for Jessica’s message at 7:51 am, that people had stolen from Raymond in the past and that if he caught someone wandering around the property they might get shot. At least two people have offered the name of a man that worked for Raymond at the time, who allegedly saw Jessica walking down the Edwards’ driveway while he was looking for his lost motorcycle keys. In another story, that man supposedly saw a vehicle in the area of Elgin Cochran Road that may have picked Jessica up. The reality is that Jessica’s position and accuracy radius at the time she sent “Hey they ain’t gonna shoot me for walking” and then called Eric’s phone, she could not have been anywhere on Elgin Cochran Road.
Jessica’s call to Eric at 7:53 also triggered a NELOS position for him, even though the call was not answered and it was automatically forwarded to voicemail. That new position also placed Eric at his house, with an accuracy radius of 25 meters. 14 minutes later, at 8:07:17, a new NELOS position put Eric’s phone traveling north on Elgin Cochran Road. One seclouond later, we see the anomaly again, with Eric’s phone in very close proximity to where Jessica’s last NELOS position was. In fact, Eric’s center point is only about 2000 feet from where Jessica’s last position was centered. This is an important fact. While the Edwards family has claimed all this time that Jessica left their property walking when she could not have been on their property when she sent her last message to Eric’s phone, someone with Eric’s phone knew exactly where Jessica was at that time, and hastily drove to that location–Google Maps indicates it takes exactly 14 minutes to make that drive.
At 9:01 am, Eric’s device moved northeast and was centered on County Road 180 just north of New Hope Baptist Church. At 9:27 the anomaly happens again, and Eric’s device is still around County Road 180 and also at home, nearly 4 miles away at the exact same time.
Based on the NELOS data from Jessica and Eric’s devices, we can say with certainty that Jessica was not hanging out or sleeping at Eric’s house all night. In fact, Jessica was on the move much of the night, and had to have been traveling in a vehicle. She made several trips into northwest Hamilton that night, including after the sun came up on January 3rd. Even more telling is that Eric’s device does not appear to have traveled with Jessica on those trips, and the two devices being in close proximity to one another only happened a couple of times. This information conflicts greatly with the traditional story about that night and the statements made by the people who have admitted to being present. At a minimum, the accounts given by Eric Edwards, Shane Reynolds, and Alicia and Derek Motes have been nothing but a farce. Maybe this explains something Jessica’s dad, Keith, told us. Before you listen to what Keith said, you are going to hear him mention Robbie. Robbie was an SBI investigator who sadly passed away. Keith often says that when Robbie died, this case did too. Here’s Keith.
and then you get to the other, the other four knuckleheads that took the polygraph. That would have been Eric Edwards, Derek motes, Alicia Motes, and David Shane Reynolds.
Derrick, Eric and Alicia. Well, they did get their name right when I asked him, but yeah, they failed miserably. And around the middle of it, of Eric's. He stood up and screamed out in the jail. Don't tell them shit. They don't know nothing.
Yeah, they did. Robbie said. He said he just jumped up and started screaming don't tell them shit. They don't know nothing. Or they don't have nothing. That's what they said they don't have nothing. So those three failed miserably. And then you got David Shane Reynolds who is the nephew of Raymond, who lives down the road with his mommy and daddy. He's like 50 years old. He lives down there on the left, about a about a half mile down the road. He got his right, for the most part. He passed except for two questions. The two questions he showed deceit on was Do you know what happened to Jessica Hamby? And do you know where she is? Those two questions they showed deceit on.
The evidence clearly shows that Jessica spent very little time on the Edwards property. While she drove to many different locations, there is one location that you might have noticed came up over and over again. Jessica spent far more time in the general area of the hunting club between County Roads 29 and 75 than anywhere else. While we often reference the hunting club when mentioning this area, we think it is highly unlikely that the group was actually at the hunting club or Ridout Falls. The basis for this theory is because according to Jessica’s facebook records, she was often connected to an IP address while in this area and from the limited information we are able to obtain about this IP address, it appears it was a residential broadband connection through Century Link. We should note that Alicia Motes’ facebook records show that she was also connected to this same IP address on January 3rd at 12:46 am and 2:49 am. Eric Edwards was connected to this IP address January 3rd at 5:14 pm and again on January 7th at 7:10 am. While we aren’t able to obtain the customer information for this IP address, one or all of the law enforcement agencies involved in this case could and this would most likely not only reveal the specific location where Jessica was for much of the night and morning but also her location when she sent that message to Eric Edwards: They ain’t going to shoot me for walking.
Why would the Edwards and the rest of the group rather lie and place Jessica at their home instead of being honest about her true location for much of the night and morning hours? Typically, if someone wanted to lie in an investigation of this nature, you’d expect them to want to place the missing person as far away from their home as possible. All of their stories have indicated that Jessica left walking from the Edwards home that morning when she sent that last message to Eric. They ain’t gonna shoot me for walking. Since Jessica was NOT at the Edwards and did not leave there walking, we now know the claims of that story being about Raymond are false but Jessica clearly thought Eric would know exactly what she meant by that message and it appears she was right since he drove directly to the same area where Jessica was located when she sent that message. While we aren’t to a point that we are willing to accuse this group of doing harm to Jessica, there is no doubt about this. All of them are lying. All of them have been lying and hiding critical information since day 1 of this investigation. Jessica had known Alicia and Derek Motes since her childhood. Some great friends those 2 turned out to be because it’s obvious that both those 2 and the rest of the group we’ve been discussing know exactly what happened to Jessica Hamby.
There is one more piece of information that needs to be shared because it is highly likely that someone witnessed it and may not have thought to share it with investigators. To cover that, we must go back to the geofencing performed by the SBI.
Michael: At approximately 6 am on January 3rd, a new device appeared within the geofence at Gilbert’s camper. It disappeared shortly after stopping there, then briefly reappeared around 8 am before vanishing again for the rest of the search warrant period. A follow-up search warrant revealed that this device traveled from Belmont, Mississippi, made a brief stop in Red Bay, AL, and then drove directly to Gilbert’s camper. The device then disappeared from Google’s logs. Around 8 am, the device reappeared at Gilbert’s camper, and promptly traveled back to Red Bay, AL, making a brief detour through the loading dock area of the Sunshine Mills dog food plant, then crossing the state line and returning to Belmont, MS. We believe that after arriving at Gilbert’s camper, this device or its location services were turned off until the device reappeared before it left the area. Based on her messages during that time to people like Nate Dunstan and her continued movements around the area, we do not believe Jessica was aware that the person with that device was in the area but the timing of that device leaving closely coincides with Jessica’s device going dark. Subscriber information for that device obtained by the SBI’s search warrant revealed that this person is connected to many of the same people that Jessica and the others were involved with before the events of January 2nd and 3rd.
Amber: In the next episode, we will take you back to 2017 and the months before Jessica went to the detox in Haleyville to explore and explain those connections and how Jessica got to know Travis Jackson and came to be with Alicia, Eric, and Derek that night.
Join us next time as we continue to investigate as we push for justice for Jessica.
If you have any information that could help to solve the disappearance of Jessica Hamby, please call email me at email@example.com or call our confidential tip line at 205-282-0740. Michael and I will ensure that all information gets to the right place right away. If you are left still wanting even more content, please check us out on Patreon. We have it filled with great information about Susan and Evan, Eric and Gypsy and we will be adding additional content about Jessica. This podcast is an independent podcast. That means that everything that goes into making this podcast is done and funded by me. All the investigative tools and resources are provided by Echo 7 Foxtrot and in this case, also Jeff Means with Sound Mind Investigations. The tragedies we highlight and investigate have had a tremendous impact on the victims' loved ones and friends. We don't burden them with additional expenses to cover their cases--we donate our time and talents because we want to help and hope to find the answers they need that are long overdue. For as little as $5 per month, you can receive exclusive access to members only photos, videos, early access to episodes and much, much more. By becoming a patron, you too are helping us help these families. www.patreon.com/secretscrime. I’ll also post the link on our Facebook page. If you are enjoying this podcast, be sure to follow or subscribe in your podcast player of choice and by giving us a 5-star rating and review in Apple Podcasts. We are active on social media and will often share photos of Jessica. Follow Secrets True Crime on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. @secretscrime. This episode was cowritten by me and Michael Fleming. This audio production for this podcast is by Kane Power at precisionpodcasting.com.