Early in the morning on April 8, 2008, 22-year-old Jamie Fraley told her friend over the phone that she was going to the hospital. It would be her 3rd time in the last 24 hours, due to the stomach flu. Fraley said a friend was taking her there.
She has not been seen or heard from since.
Initially, investigators suspected foul play, perhaps from her fiance's father, Ricky Simonds Sr., who lived in the same complex as Jamie. He had taken her to the hospital for one of her previous visits, and had strangled a girlfriend back in the 1980s, among other entries on his criminal record. However, when he died a few months later, the investigation into him dropped.
In 2015, a prison inmate confessed that he had killed her, but he had been in jail at the time she disappeared. No one has ever been officially charged in her case, and the investigation continues to this day.
THE DISAPPEARANCE AND THE INVESTIGATION
Jamie had experienced anxiety and bipolar disorders throughout her life, but had begun responding positively to prescription medications in the years leading up to her disappearance. She was attending Gaston College part-time with the hopes of pursuing a career as a substance abuse counselor.
She began dating Ricky Simonds Jr. and though she was in love with him, he had a criminal history, including several arrests for petty crimes. During a 15-month incarceration for theft, Jamie visited him and interacted with him often.
On April 7, 2008, Jamie got the stomach flu. It was very severe, and she went to the hospital 2 times. She didn't have a driver's license, and so she relied on social services workers, friends and family to take her to and from the hospital.
After the first trip, one of Jamie's friends visited her and picked up her dog, as Jamie had been watching her, and then went out to drop off Jamie's prescription at the drugstore. For her second trip to the hospital, her fiance's father drove her, and a neighbor picked her up and drove her back. Just after midnight, she thought that she might be experiencing something more serious and called her mom to let her know she thought she should go back to the hospital. At around 1:30 AM, she called her friend and said she was going back to the hospital. She said that "he" was coming to pick her up, but did not say who.
She did not check into the hospital, and since that phone call, there has been no evidence of her existence ever again.
Jamie had an important appointment the following day, and when she didn't turn up, her family went to her apartment to see if she was okay. They did not find her there, but inside, they found her wallet, purse, keys and ID, but not her cell phone. Everything else looked to be in order, with nothing else missing and no signs of struggle. (Obviously, had she been intending to go to the hospital, she would have brought her ID and wallet to check in and pay. Also, how was the door locked if her keys were inside?)
Once she was reported missing, Gaston County police launched an investigation, putting all of the investigators on the case, 3 of them full-time. They requested assistance from the state's Bureau of Investigation, and the FBI.
Her phone was found 2 days after she disappeared near an intersection roughly a mile from her apartment. The phone was turned over by police, but too many people had handled it before then and thus, fingerprints were not able to be extracted. She received a call at 5:00 AM, but police could not determine who it was from. There was no other usable evidence on the phone.
The first (and only) suspect police looked into was Ricky Simonds Sr., Jamie's fiance's father. Because her fiance was in jail at the time of her disappearance, he was ruled out. His father's 1980 manslaughter charge for strangling his girlfriend to death, his close proximity to Jamie, and his interaction with her earlier that day made him a potential person of interest. Additionally, he refused a lie detector test and was reportedly "obsessed" with Jamie.
But 2 months exactly to the day after Jamie disappeared, Kim Sprenger, a former girlfriend who had recently gotten a protective order against Simonds, noticed an odor in her car. After it persisted, she opened the trunk to find Simonds' dead body. He had stolen her purse and copied her keys a week earlier, but it appeared that his death was an accidental heat stroke. Police assumed that he had planned to ambush Kim at some point, but when the heat exhaustion set in, he became too delirious to open the emergency latch and got stuck. (Can you imagine noticing a smell in your car and investigating to find your ex-boyfriend who you wanted a restraining order against dead in your trunk?)
Though the investigation into him stopped after he died, he remained a person of interest, and both the Fraley and Simonds families believe if he didn't have something to do with it, he knew something, and took it to the grave. Jamie's mother said she believes he was hiding something.
By this point, Ricky had been released from prison and also agreed that he likely knew what happened to her. But more than anything, he was confused and overwhelmed. His fiance went missing and then his dad died in a trunk, which is a lot for one person to handle over the course of 2 months.
In 2015, Jerry Case, a man serving time for kidnapping, made a confession about being involved in Jamie's disappearance, but he was in jail at the time. He confessed that he killed Jamie and another local woman. Though he was incarcerated at the time, he was released a few weeks later, so if he had someone on the outside who could have taken her, he may have killed her weeks later, but the police largely discounted his confession.
THOUGHTS FROM INTERNET DETECTIVES
Unsolved mysteries are one of my favorite things to look up on Reddit. People often spend a lot of time deep diving into the facts, and looking for more information to resolve what seems completely unresolvable.
On Reddit, and among those interested overall, there are 3 primary theories.
Theory 1: Simonds Sr. abducted and killed her. This one makes the most sense, because he had a history of being "obsessed" with her, lived close, and Jamie trusted him. If she told a friend that a man was coming up pick her up, it could have been him. But then why didn't he kill her during the first ride to the hospital? And why is there no record of her calling him? And shy didn't she take her purse and keys with her if she was going to the hospital? And how did the door get locked if she left the keys inside - Simonds did maintenance at the complex, so maybe he went in after? Additionally, he had various charges from past crimes and was a person of interest for a disappearance, wouldn't he have been smarter than to try to get into his ex-girlfriend's car and attack her?
Another weird thing is that the shoes she always wore were left in her home, but with the laces taken out of them. The laces were never found.
Despite all of the questions this theory brings up, the Reddit user still believes that Simonds abducted and murdered Jamie.
Theory 2: Jamie went off of her medication and wandered away from her home, potentially starting a new life, dying of exposure or being kidnapped and killed along the way. This isn't a very popular theory, but perhaps she had stopped her medications and that was what was making her feel so sick.
Theory 3: She was victimized by an unknown person, but she likely knew him to some degree, as it appeared she willingly left her home to get into his car. But again - why did she leave all of her things, besides her cell phone, behind?
Personally, my theory is that she went over to Simonds' home to ask for a ride, given they lived in the same complex close by. Then she went home, and waited for him to come get her, and called her friend. Instead of beeping or alerting her that he was at her home from the car, he got out and came up to her door. Perhaps things went south there: He felt like he was leading her on, or tried to make a move and she turned him down. He used her shoelaces to tie her up in some way and brought her out to his car without startling anyone, as most people were probably asleep. Then, he killed and dumped her in some remote location where her body wouldn't be found.
Whatever happened, it is safe to assume that Jamie did not make it out alive. To go from planning a hospital visit to never being seen again within a few minutes assumes she was likely met with foul play, at the hands of her fiance's father, or someone else. But she has not been declared dead, and her case remains open, and investigators and Jamie's loved ones still hope that they will eventually get some closure as to what happened to her 12 years go today.