On October 8, 2009, the Jamison family, including Bobby and Sherilynn, as well as their 6-year-old daughter Madyson, completely fell off the face of the earth. Their case captured widespread media attention due to their bizarre actions before their disappearance.
Their bodies were all found in 2013, but it was impossible to determine the causes of death. It is believed that they were victims of homicide, but their killer, and their killer's motive, remains a mystery.
A STRANGE BACK STORY
In 2003, Bobby was in a bad car accident that left him with chronic back pain. This affected his mood, and thus, affected his marriage and his life. On top of that, Sherilynn suffered from bipolar disorder, and she often chose not to take her prescribed medication. The choice between dealing with her disease, or dealing with the medication's side effects was a tough choice, either option further contributing to the difficulty inside of the Jamison home.
Sherilynn's disorder made her susceptible to serious bouts of depression, which would cause her to angrily lash out to those close to her, including her husband. Who, as mentioned, was already dealing with his own chronic pain. All of this to say, their marriage was a bit rocky.
The couple kept mostly to themselves, though people around them knew that they were deeply spiritual. This spirituality turned a bit dark when Bobby and Sherilynn began to believe their home was being invaded by dark spirits, and they talked to their local pastor about their concerns.
Their daughter, Madyson, had an imaginary friend named Emily. Obviously, many children have imaginary friends, and it is extremely normal for most families. But for a family with a deep presence of mental heath and spiritual paranoia, they believed Emily was a malevolent entity who had entered their home.
It wasn't just Sherilynn who believed this, Bobby was also paranoid that the family was being haunted by evil spirits. He had asked his pastor if he knew where he could purchase "special bullets" to shoot the spirits whom be believed were living on the family's roof. He used a copy of The Satanic Bible to try to perform an exorcism in the house to rid it of evil.
So, they are a little weird and perhaps seriously mentally ill, sure. But does that have anything to do with their disappearance? Well, maybe.
While investigating the disappearance of the Jamison family, police came across surveillance footage from outside of their home. In the video, the couple is seen walking back an forth from their home to their truck, loading items in a "zombie-like" trance, not speaking to one another.
Now, I watched the video from some footage I found on YouTube. And I would say that it is a stretch to refer to their actions as "trance-like", primarily because the video quality is terrible and skips ever few seconds. Also, if they were in an unhappy marriage, which it seems like they were, it wouldn't be that strange for them to walk to and from their car without acknowledging one another.
I'm going to pretend the video I watched doesn't exist and that the police have a better quality video. An officer said they made 20 trips back and forth, sometimes not carrying anything at all. Sometimes, they just stood in place with "vacant" stares on their faces.
Weirder still, before she disappeared, Sherilynn had told a neighbor that she believed she was a witch, and she began spray-painting "important" messages onto a storage container outside of their house. The graffiti included some cryptic notes about God other bizarre stuff, including "witches did not like it when their cats were killed", as she believed that someone from the neighborhood had killed her cats. The neighbors stayed away from the Jamison family after this.
ON OCTOBER 8, 2009
Bobby, Sherilynn, and Madyson lived in Eufaula, Oklahoma. They had decided to travel to the San Bois mountain range to purchase a 40-acre plot of land and live in a storage shed together.
Sherilynn's son from a previous relationship, Colton, said he believed the family's plans to relocate were either spur-of-the-moment, or kept close to the chest for other reasons. He said he had just seen his mother weeks prior, and she had not mentioned any plans for the family to move away.
On October 8, they loaded up their truck in the aforementioned "trance-like" fashion and headed into the mountains. This was the last time they had ever been seen alive. When they weren't heard from for days, their remaining family members began searching. After 8 days of looking, police located the family's truck, and weird got weirder.
The truck turned up about an hour away from the Jamison home. The contents of the truck suggested that they didn't plan on being away from it for long. Their cell phones, purse, and the family's malnourished dog were inside of the truck, as well as a map and over 30k in cash. There was no sign that an accident had occurred, as the truck was still in good condition.
Family and friends could not explain the large sum of cash in the truck. The couple had been on disability at the time of their disappearance and they did not have a steady enough cash flow to have $30,000 in cash just lying around in their truck. Some believe that they were involved in drug dealing, but those who knew the couple struggled to believe that they'd bring their 6-year-old along with them to do drug-related business. However, like some have mentioned, if they had a serious enough drug problem, there is a chance that nothing in the world could have stopped them from going to get them. (But also worth mentioning... they had money, not drugs. Being broke and having $30,000 in your car would suggest someone bought drugs from you, not that you were purchasing drugs? I don't know. Walter White always had #FatStacks and he was the dealer, not the buyer.)
Even though the truck was found just days after the family went missing, it would be another 4 years before the bodies of the victims were found. Just 3 miles away from where the abandoned truck and malnourished pup were found, on November 16, 2013, the skeletal remains of 2 adults and 1 child were found. Testing confirmed that the remains belonged to the Jamison family.
Okay, so I told you the facts of the case. But I didn't tell you... what on earth happened? And to be honest, I have no idea. So it is time for my favorite segment... theories!
The first theory is that the Jamison's were members of a Satanic cult. Sherilynn's mother said that she believed the family was on some sort of Oklahoma cult hit list, though police have never been able to trace their death back to any alleged cult. She did not believe that they would knowingly put their daughter in danger, and thus, they must have been met with foul play by someone who wanted them dead.
Others theorize that their deaths were a result of a meth/drug deal gone wrong. The area where they lived was moving up in the world in terms of meth distribution. Some believe that the video of the family packing their truck in a weird way indicated that they were on drugs. And despite the actual specifics of what happened, drugs are typically a good explanation for having a wad of money in your car when you are struggling financially.
But, were they distributing meth? Nothing in the investigation pointed to this, so if they were just meth users then you would imagine they'd be even more broke, not cashing in on it. Meth could also account for their erratic behavior, such as believing a mere imaginary friend was a malicious spirit or spray painting a storage container about cats.
People close to the family don't believe that they would ever put their child in harm's way in the spirit of drugs, but again, addicts aren't always seeing with the clearest lens. And not to make another Breaking Bad reference, but Walt never intended to put his family in harm's way, and yet, he definitely did. So things can get out of hand when you're dealing with meth, I guess.
They also could have just been going to the mountains and got the money in a different way and stumbled into the drug world. The San Bois mountain range was known for its many meth labs, and allegedly, Bobby had recently reported someone for running one. They could have been killed in a drug-fueled revenge plot.
Another theory that doesn't have much to do with the family's odd behavior is that Bobby's father killed the family. He had allegedly threatened to kill them before, and Sherilynn had even filed a protective order against him. Bobby alleged that his father was a dangerous man who was involved in "prostitutes, gangs, and meth". He died just 2 months after the family went missing. However, he was in poor health for quite some time before they went missing, so pulling off a triple murder may have been tricky.
But even so, if he was involved in the meth game, they might have been killed a result of some of his business dealings, or used their connection with him to get in the door of their own meth business.
A murder suicide is also a theory, that is far less sexy but still definitely possible. The Jamisons were not a happy couple or a happy family. Investigators even found an 11-page "hate" letter from Sherilynn to Bobby in the truck. She called him a loner and a hermit who didn't care about their daughter, and she wrote that she wanted a divorce.
Sherilynn did keep a gun in their truck, but it was never found. Had she used it, or if Bobby used it to commit a murder suicide, it would have had to have been around somewhere. Her friends claimed that, sure, she had gripes with her husband and would write them down often, but she always moved past it because she loved Bobby.
I think that, perhaps, Bobby was angry that Sherilynn was going to leave him, and her words about him being a bad father led him to believe she would get custody, and drove her out to the woods to kill them. He may have killed himself as well, though I am not sure how.
Another theory exists that they just... got lost and succumbed to the elements, which is honestly pretty plausible. It was getting colder, and they could have frozen or starved to death if they were left out for too long.
However, some point out the way their truck was parked, and the things left inside of it, indicated that they didn't intend to stay wherever they were for too long. Why would they have walked 3 miles away from their car, where their money, dog, phones, etc. were? Friends said that with Bobby's back problems, walking 3 miles would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible.
The bodies were also found side-by-side and face-down in the dirt. It would be pretty crazy for them to all have died in the same way, and to end up lying like that.
The bodies were all so badly decomposed, and so many animals had been feasting on their bodies for the years they lay there, that a cause of death wasn't possible to determine.
The author of the article I used to get this information, which was awesome, believes that they were meth users (explaining the odd behavior and paranoia) and dipped into the drug trade for some extra cash while they were struggling financially. She believes that they went to meet someone that they worked with in a remote spot in the mountains to tell them that they were no longer interested, as they had made the money they needed, and it went over poorly and they were killed.
It seems like as good a theory as any, but I don't know. I don't think that serious meth users who are unable to keep their behavior under control would be excellent drug dealers. Drug users, sure. But involved enough in the operation to be carrying around 30k with them? I'm not sure.
This is a case where I do believe their actions beforehand were very important in determining what happened to them. But with so many leads and theories and bizarre happenings, it is frustrating that we will probably never know who killed them. I think all possibilities are possible, and don't think we'll ever know which one actually happened.
Whether it was a murder suicide, a satanic cult, or a drug-meet gone bad, 6-year-old Madyson was brought into a situation she didn't deserve. I do feel for the parents, who likely never intended their actions to lead to the loss of their lives, but Madyson was an entirely innocent person in everything, and it breaks my heart that she did, likely because of the decisions her parents made.
This was a fascinating one, and I will be storing this in my "I hope I get to find out what happened in this case when I die" bucket.