Jamie Michelle Fraley was born on March 5, 1986 in Gaston County, North Carolina. From the onset, she was someone who defied the odds. She was a sickly newborn who many believed wouldn’t live past the age of one, but she did. She was later diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders. She took medication to manage both, and is said to have responded well.
Jamie was a firecracker with a big heart and a passion for helping others. While known to be feisty at times, she was a sweet and intelligent girl. This led her to pursue a career as a substance abuse counsellor, for which she was studying part time at Gaston College, alongside getting her GED.
At the time of her disappearance, Jamie was engaged to Ricky Simons Jr. The pair began dating in 2006, and not long after began living together at the Copperfield apartment complex at 1850 Lowell Bethesda Road in Gastonia. Ricky was known to law enforcement, and in 2007 was sentenced to 15 months for theft. Her family shared their concerns about him with Jamie, but she chose to stay, writing Ricky daily and visiting him in prison.
LEAD UP TO DISAPPEARANCE:
On April 7, 2008, Jamie was suffering from what doctors believed to be the stomach flu, for which she’d gone to the hospital twice. The first time was around lunchtime. When she returned home, her friend picked up a dog Jamie had been babysitting for her and offered to drop off her prescription at a local drugstore.
Between 8:00pm and 10:00pm, Jamie decided she needed to return to the emergency room, unhappy with her previous diagnosis. As she didn’t have a driver’s license or method of transportation, she called her fiancé’s father, Ricky Simons Sr., for a ride. When she arrived at the hospital, she was told the wait would be three hours. She decided to leave and called another neighbour to ask for a ride back to her apartment.
Jamie got home around midnight and called her mother. Concerned, Kim Fraley asked if she wanted picked up the next day. Her daughter declined, saying she had an appointment with the Social Security Administration. Two hours later, Jamie called a friend and told them someone was going to pick her up and take her back to the hospital. However, she didn’t saw who that person was and abruptly hung up when they pulled up outside.
Jamie never appeared at the hospital that third time.
On April 9, 2008, a healthcare provider arrived at Jamie’s apartment to take her to her appointment with the Social Security Administration, but found her door locked. When Jamie failed to answer calls to her cellphone, the provider left, but failed to notify her family for two days.
On April 11, Kim called the police and asked them to perform a welfare check on her daughter. When an officer arrived at her apartment, he found no signs of forced entry or a struggle. After numerous attempts to reach Jamie via her cellphone, Kim, Jamie’s aunt and her cousin entered the apartment and found her purse, wallet, keys and identification. She’d also vomited in several places, indicating the severity of her stomach issues. They noticed the shoelaces were missing from her favourite pair of shoes, which struck them as odd.
Kim once again called the police, this time to file a missing persons report.
The Gaston County Police Department assigned three investigators to the case full time and requested assistance from the State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. They interviewed Jamie’s friends and family, and conducted door-to-door conversations with residents of the apartment complex.
The area around the complex was searched, including a nearby wooded area. Divers and cadaver dogs also searched Lake Armstrong, located across the street, but their efforts turned up empty.
On April 13, 2008, a utilities worker repairing lines at the intersection of South New Hope Road and East Hudson Boulevard found Jamie’s cellphone. It appeared to have been thrown from a moving vehicle. When investigators looked at it, they found several calls were made at 4:30am on the morning Jamie disappeared, but none connected. They were later determined to have been dialled from her list of recent contacts and therefore not related to the case. What did interest investigators was a call made to the phone at 5:00am that same day. Unfortunately, they were unable to determine who it was from.
Due to the amount of people who had handled the cellphone, investigators were unable to gleam much from it. Search dogs were brought to the intersection where it was found, but they didn’t hit upon anything.
Jamie’s family made thousands of missing persons flyers, conducted their own searches and hired their own investigator. To aid in the search, both Texas EquuSearch and the Kristen Foundation travelled to North Carolina. In 2010, a billboard funded by the Kristen Foundation was installed along I-85 to help raise awareness about the case.
The family made attempts to enlist the help of forensic psychologist Maurice Godwin in 2012, but he was denied access to Jamie’s case file. The police department cites the ongoing investigation as the reason for the denial.
A few years after Jamie’s disappearance, an individual sent Kim a photo of a woman from a website advertising female escorts on the west coast. Investigators contacted local authorities and they tracked down the female in the picture. Unfortunately, she wasn’t Jamie.
Investigators don’t believe Jamie left of her own accord, as it is uncharacteristic of her to leave without warning. Due to the lack of evidence, no charges have been filed – however, foul play is suspected. Her DNA is available for comparison, should her body be found, and a reward is currently being offered for information that solves the case.
1) The primary theory in the case is that Ricky Simonds Sr. is responsible for Jamie’s disappearance. He’s currently considered a person of interest, and has a criminal record that includes fraud, drug charges and larceny. He served time in the 1980s for manslaughter in connection to the strangulation death of his ex-girlfriend.
Those who knew Jamie say Simonds Sr. was obsessed with her and would make inappropriate comments and advances. He lived two apartments down, would help her run errands and would do maintenance work at the apartment complex. He was also one of the last people to see Jamie, as he’d driven her to the hospital just a few hours before her disappearance.
On June 8, 2008, one of Simonds Sr.’s ex-girlfriends found his body in the trunk of her car. Before his death, she’d filed a restraining order against him for theft. She’d told police she’d noticed a foul odour emanating from her trunk and when she opened it she found his body. He had her keys in his pocket and her purse beside him. Investigators believe he’d hid inside the trunk to ambush her, but got trapped and died of heat stroke.
It was only after his death that the authorities suspected him with being involved in Jamie’s disappearance. However, there’s no evidence to prove this. Kim believes whatever useful information there is about her daughter’s case died with him, a sentiment shared by Ricky Simonds Jr.
2) A second theory, which has since been discredited by investigators, states Jamie was killed by a man named Jerry Douglas Case. At the time he came on police radar, he was serving a 22-year sentence for murder.
In 2012, he wrote a letter to the Gaston Gazette, confessing to the 1985 murder of a 17-year-old boy. Three years later, he wrote another letter, this time confessing to Jamie’s murder and that of another woman who was killed in 2008. Despite his confession, investigators don’t believe him to be involved in Jamie’s disappearance, as he was incarcerated at the time. As well, he was only able to provide details that had already been made public.
Law enforcement has also discredited his involvement in the 2008 murder, despite him being free at the time said homicide occurred.
Kim has kept a box of her daughter’s belongings, which includes a poem Jamie wrote. She’s shared she suffered from depression in the months following Jamie’s disappearance, for which she sought therapy.
The case was featured on a 2012 episode of the Investigation Discovery show, Disappeared.
The Missing Jamie Michelle Fraley Facebook page has been created to help raise awareness about the case.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Jamie Michelle Fraley went missing from the Copperfield apartment complex in Gastonia, Gaston County, North Carolina on April 8, 2008. She was 22 years old, and was possibly wearing a large white t-shirt and blue jeans. At the time of her disappearance, she stood at 4’9″ and weighed approximately 90 to 100 pounds. She has strawberry blonde hair, and either blue or brown eyes. The name “Ricky” is tattooed on her right ankle.
Some agencies spell her last name as “Farley”.
Currently, the case is classified as endangered missing, with foul play suspected. If alive, she would be 35 years old.
Thos with information regarding the case are asked to contact the Gaston County Police Department at either 704-866-3320, 704-866-3334 or 704-866-3300. Tips can also be called into the FBI at 1-704-672-6100 or anonymously via Crime Stoppers at 1-800-861-8000.
Image Credit: NBC News