|This case has remained unsolved for 14 years, 1 months, and 29 days.|
The Jamison family seemed normal enough, living in Eufaula, Oklahoma in a lakeside home in 2009. They wanted to find somewhere more secluded to live though and they set up a viewing for a forty-acre piece of property near Red Oak, OK. The family made it to the viewing, although they requested that the realtor for the property not attend.
It took over a week for others to realize that the family was missing, and though their truck was found, they were not. It would take over four more years for the remains of the family to be located, but finding their bodies only raised more questions.
While some family members suspect a drug deal gone wrong or even ritual cult killings, others suggest that this was just a tragic accident. What really happened to the Jamison family?
Table of Contents
About the Jamison Family
In 2009, the Jamison family lived in Eufaula, OK. The family consisted of Bobby Jamison (44), his wife Sherilynn Jamison (40), and their daughter, Madyson (6). The couple had married in 2004 and Madyson followed soon thereafter. Sherilynn had another son from a previous relationship as well, but he lived with his father at the time.
According to sources, the family had a high standard of living, although they were perhaps living above their means. They lived in a lakeside home and also had several timeshares in the US and in Mexico. The family was also extremely religious to the point that they were paranoid about spirits invading their home.
Some Health Issues
Both Bobby and Sherilynn were unemployed and on disability at the time of their disappearance. Bobby had been in a car wreck in 2003 and suffered from chronic back pain as a result. Sherilynn had struggled with depression ever since her sister died in a freak bee sting accident. She was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder and sometimes didn’t take her medication.
By October 2009, the couple was considering moving out of Eufaula and finding a quieter place to live — although the town of Eufaula only had a population of around 3,000 at the time. They couldn’t have known that this decision would ultimately lead them to their tragic fate.
The Day of the Disappearance
Bobby and Sherilynn were considering purchasing a forty-acre plot of land in the Red Oak, OK area in Latimer County (roughly 50 miles from Eufaula). This area is in the San Bois Mountains.
The Jamison family wanted to move to the San Bois Mountains and live in metal shipping containers, although it’s not entirely clear why this was the plan. They were planning on visiting the property, although they did not want the real estate agent to attend the showing for one reason or another.
Due to the fact that the family’s truck was found in the area, it’s believed that the Jamisons made it safely to the area — but after that chilly October day, no one ever saw them again.
Missing Family Goes Unnoticed
The family was last seen on October 9, 2009. Weather reports for that day say it was around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is quite chilly and could induce hypothermia without proper clothing or if a person was wet. But because the Jamisons were a private family who didn’t often contact friends or relatives, no one realized they were missing for a while.
It was only when someone found their abandoned truck over a week later that alarms were raised. Inside the truck was Maisy, the Jamison’s family pet, very close to dehydration and starvation. Authorities were notified and finally, the search began.
The Search Begins
The family’s truck was found on October 17, eight days after the couple was last seen, and it had some interesting items inside. The family’s coats had been left inside, as had their cell phones, some maps, a GPS system, and around $32,000 cash. The family’s dog, Maisy, had also been left in the truck and was in very poor condition when authorities found her.
An 11-page long letter was also found in the truck, apparently written by Sherilynn. In it, Sherilynn criticized Bobby for being “a hermit” and that he wasn’t taking good enough care of his family. She also wrote that she wanted a divorce.
Authorities began the search for the missing family with everything they had, including search dogs, people on horseback, helicopter patrols, and more. Rocky terrain and some steep cliffsides were difficult for searchers to navigate, further complicated by wet and muddy conditions early on.
Regarding the truck, Israel Beauchamp, Latimer County Sherriff at the time, stated, “I think they were forced to stop and got out of the truck to meet with someone they recognize. And I think they either left willingly or by force.”
The last few pictures that were taken on Bobby’s cell phone were of Madyson sitting in front of a rock. Some say that Madyson looks frightened in the pictures, or at the very least, uneasy. Her arms are crossed and although she has a semi-smile, it doesn’t appear genuine.
Tire Tracks Leading From the Truck?
One witness said that there were fresh tire tracks leading away from the Jamison’s truck, making him believe that the family perhaps got into another vehicle.
However, another witness (and the last known person to see the family) said that he never saw the family come back down the mountain, nor did he see anyone else drive up it or down it. His home was in the mountainous region about a quarter-mile from where the Jamison’s truck was found so it is likely he would have been aware of anyone else going into or out of the area. Investigators clearly questioned this witness, but I couldn’t find information stating that he was ever ruled out completely.
Troubles in Eufaula
The couple had some issues with a family friend who’d been staying with them. Reportedly, Sherilynn had forced the man to leave at gunpoint, even shooting some bullets into the floor near his feet. This man was investigated by authorities and he was ultimately cleared in the case of the family’s disappearance.
The Jamison’s pastor came forward as well, giving over information to the authorities about what Bobby had told him in the weeks leading up to the disappearance. Reportedly, Bobby had been seeing spirits around his home and asked the pastor if there “was a bullet they made that would kill them.”
Bobby also had a “Satanic Bible” that he was supposedly reading to help ward off the spirits. It was unclear if Bobby was suffering from mental health issues, although this information makes it more likely.
Lastly, Sherilynn claimed someone had poisoned her cats in the weeks prior to the family’s disappearance. She spray-painted some phrases onto the side of the shipping container that the family planned on living in, writing, “Witches do not like it when their cats are killed.”
The Jamison family had some troubles with the Eufaula School District as they’d pulled their daughter Madyson out of kindergarten and were planning on suing the school district. What the couple was planning on suing about is unknown, but Madyson had indeed been removed from classes which was why the school didn’t alert anyone that she was missing.
Bobby had also filed suit against his parents in 2009, claiming that his father had tricked him into working for free. The deal reportedly was that Bobby would get a half-stake in the business at some point in the future. There were also some claims made by Bobby that his father had threatened to “kill him” and his family on several occasions.
Investigators looked into both lawsuits and claims to see if there was any connection to the family’s disappearance, but they couldn’t find any links. Furthermore, Bobby’s father was in a nursing home when the family vanished, so investigators were able to rule him out rather early. He passed away only a few months after the family went missing.
Were Drugs Involved?
Some rumors circled that both Bobby and Sherilynn were meth users, so investigators looked into the drug angle. Surveillance footage recorded at the Jamison’s home on the day they disappeared was very odd, perhaps furthering these rumors.
The Jamisons were loading up their truck in what appeared to be a “trance-like state,” leading some to believe that they were on some sort of substance on the day they disappeared. Ultimately, investigators were unable to find any evidence that the Jamisons were either buying or selling drugs, even after searching the truck and the family home.
Another notable point about the surveillance footage is that Sherilynn can be seen loading a brown briefcase into the truck. This brown briefcase was not found with the truck, nor has it ever been located. It’s not clear what was in the briefcase or where it might’ve ended up.
Was This a Kidnapping?
Some friends and family of the Jamisons were convinced that someone had kidnapped the family, perhaps even at gunpoint. This theory made some sense because of the important items that the family had left behind in the truck — that is, it seemed like they left in a hurry to leave so much cash, their phones, and the family dog behind.
However, authorities were never able to reveal any information or clues that pointed to a possible abduction.
Years Later, Remains Found
In 2013, some deer hunters were in the Smokestack Hollow area when they discovered what they thought were human remains. They reported the discovery to authorities who confirmed that the partial remains were indeed human, at which point they were sent to the medical examiner. Where the remains were found was about 3 miles from where the family’s pickup truck had been left.
Reportedly, the bodies were found lying side-by-side, face-down in the dirt. This is an odd position for the bodies to be found in and many people raised suspicions about the bodies having been intentionally left that way by nefarious perpetrators.
It took the medical examiner until July 2014 to formally confirm that the bodies found on the mountain were those of the Jamison family. However, no cause of death was able to be determined due to the advanced stages of decomposition of the bodies.
The medical examiner released the autopsy results, stating that there was no evidence of trauma and the cause of death for the family was unknown. However, the remains were incomplete due to weather and predation by animals, so foul play could not fully be ruled out.
One item noted in the report was that Bobby had a small hole in the back of his skull which could have been from a bullet. However, this also could have been due to animal predation after death.
Theories on What Happened
Because of the amount of time that has passed since the start of this case, theories are all over the place when it comes to what happened to the Jamison family. Some suggest that the family was being plagued by demons and that’s why they ended up dead in the mountains, although I’m not sure we need to go looking for any supernatural explanations for their deaths.
They Died Due to Exposure
It’s possible that the family wandered off and ended up succumbing to the elements in this case. The weather was chilly and, if they were outside all night without their coats (because their coats and jackets were found in the truck), it’s possible that they froze to death.
That being said, 40 degrees Fahrenheit is chilly but not overly cold, even though it’s still possible to get hypothermia when the weather is around 40 degrees.
Clearly, there were troubles in the Jamison marriage given the long letter that Sherilynn had written to Bobby. Sherilynn was also said to have had mental health issues including bipolar disorder, and that she always carried a .22 pistol with her.
In addition to the letter found in the Jamison’s truck from Sherilynn, another letter was located in their home that discussed death. Israel Beauchamp, Latimer County Sherriff at the time of the couple’s disappearance, stated, “They were certainly a family obsessed with death.”
If Sherilynn planned on murdering her husband and child before killing herself, I believe a firearm would have been involved so that she could control the situation. Bobby is listed as 6’3 and 170 lbs. while Sherilynn was 5’7 and 105 lbs. I doubt that she would have been able to overpower her husband with just her hands. A .22 bullet (the type that Sherilynn supposedly carried) could pierce a human skull, so again, this theory is certainly possible.
However, no evidence of gunshots was found on the bodies according to the autopsy report, unless you believe the small hole in Bobby’s skull was absolutely due to a bullet wound. And, to be fair, it very-well could have been. One would think though that the bullet would have been found in the skull cavity or that there would have been some evidence of an exit wound somewhere else on the skull.
Additionally, wouldn’t Sherilynn and Madyson have evidence of gunshots on their remains too if a firearm was used? And if Sherilynn used a gun to end their lives, surely a gun would have been found at the scene — but no firearm was found.
Ritual Cult Killings
Some have suggested that the bizarre deaths of the Jamison family are due to some sort of ritual cult killings. Sherilyn’s mother, Connie Kokotan, believes that a religious cult killed the family. She’s said of the situation:
“Like I’ve said from the very beginning, I think somebody killed them. There’s just no way that Bobby and Sherilyn would ever let anything happen to Madyson unless something had been done to them.”Connie Kokotan (Source: The Oklahoman)
While Kokotan maintains that a cult had something to do with the Jamison family deaths, she has not named a specific cult. However, she has stated that her daughter was on some sort of a hit list that the cult maintained.
Bobby’s uncle, Jack Jamison, has also stated that he thinks foul play was involved. However, it’s not clear if he thinks it’s due to a cult or any sort of ritual killing.
Drug Deal Gone Wrong
Others have said that the Jamison family deaths are due to a drug deal gone bad. If authorities had found evidence of drugs in the family’s home, I’d be more inclined to believe this theory, but they haven’t released any information to the public indicating that the family was involved with drugs.
And, again, if this was a drug deal that went badly, why didn’t the perpetrators take the $32,000 in cash from the truck before leaving?
What Do I Think Happened?
This entire case is a strange one for a variety of reasons. Even when the bodies of the Jamison family were found and identified, it only raised more questions about what happened to them.
While family members of the deceased believe that they were murdered, others aren’t so sure. The autopsy report was inconclusive, leaving many to speculate on what exactly happened. I certainly can’t say for sure what happened to the Jamison family, but I’m not convinced foul play was involved.
Foul Play Possible
There is certainly a case to be made for foul play, although perhaps a weaker one than the other theories. What happened to the briefcase that Sherilynn put into the truck on the day of the family’s disappearance? The briefcase has never been found, nor do we know what was in it.
That being said, if there was foul play involved, surely the perpetrator(s) would have taken the $32,000 in cash from the truck. Additionally, it seems likely that a perpetrator would have used a firearm to subdue the family and there were no signs of obvious bullet wounds in the autopsy report.
Even if you believe that the hole found in Bobby’s skull was a bullet wound, why were there no injuries to Sherilynn’s body or Madyson’s body? Did the perpetrator shoot the father and then strangle the mother and child? Why wouldn’t they just use the gun a few more times?
Mental Illness Probably Played a Role
Ultimately, I think it’s more likely that the Jamison family wandered off in to the wilderness (perhaps due to mental illness) and couldn’t find their way back. This doesn’t explain why the bodies were found side-by-side, but with a lack of any trauma like gunshot wounds or stab wounds reported on their bodies, it’s hard for me to believe that foul play was involved.
Sherilynn’s son from a previous relationship stated that he’d seen his mother just a few weeks before the family went missing and she didn’t mention anything about moving to the San Bois mountains. Why wouldn’t she have mentioned such a big life change to her son?
Overall, this case is a confusing and sad one where we may never find out exactly what happened to the Jamison family. The long years the bodies spent in the San Bois Mountains took their toll, with the elements and predators obfuscating any real answers that we might’ve had in this case. If the bodies had been located sooner, within a month or so, then the Jamison family deaths probably wouldn’t be the a big mystery that it is today.
Regardless of what happened, the remaining family members and loved ones deserve closure and answers. Perhaps someone out there can give them that peace.
Unfortunately, there haven’t been many updates on the Jamison family deaths since the release of the autopsy findings in 2014.
December 2010: Investigation Discovery
Investigation Discovery aired an episode of Disappeared called “Paradise Lost” which documented the case of the Jamison family.
Do You Have Information?
Although their bodies have been found, there are still many unanswered questions about this case. If you have any information about what happened to the Jamison family, please contact the Latimer County Sheriff’s Department at (918) 465–4012.
Cold Case Questions
- Who do you think killed the Jamison family?
- What role did mental health play in this case?
- Was anyone outside the family involved in the killings?
Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!
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