San Bois Mountains, Oklahoma
Bobby, Sherilynn, Madyson Jamison, disappeared October 8, 2009, Red Oak, Sans Bois Mountains, Oklahoma. Bodies found November 16, 2013
On October 8, 2009, Bobby Jamison, 44, his wife Sherilynn, 40, 6-year-old Madyson, and their dog Maisy, loaded their pickup truck, headed into Oklahoma’s San Bois mountains, and were never seen alive again. Four years later in November 2013, their bodies were found. Were they murdered, lost in the woods, was it suicide or taken out by drug dealers?
The police said they weren’t been able to ‘completely eliminate anything’. The medical examiner ruled their cause of death as inconclusive and the case has become one of America’s most bizarre mysteries.
The Jamison Family
The Jamison home in Eufaula, Oklahoma
The Jamisons lived in the town of Eufaula, Oklahoma. The family traveled 30 miles to an area called Red Oak in the Sans Bois mountain range because Bobby and Sherilynn were thinking of buying a 40-acre plot of land. The plan was to live in a storage shed that they already owned on the land.
Bobby and Sherilyn visited an associate of the landowner and when the meeting was done, the family parked up and went for a short walk for around fifteen minutes, taking their GPS unit and found a quiet spot on a hillside. After they returned to their vehicle, they drove a little further and then, with the truck left locked in the middle of a dirt track, they vanished.
The Sans Bois Mountains are a small mountain range in southeastern Oklahoma and part of the larger Ouachita Mountains. It is a frontal belt of the Ouachita Mountains and is located in Haskell and Latimer counties, Oklahoma. Sans Bois is a French term meaning “without forest” or “without wood” in English.
Sherilynn’s son from a previous relationship, Colton, saw her two weeks prior to the family’s disappearance, and he said she made no mention of their plans to move to the San Bois area.
A car accident in 2003 involving Bobby had left him with chronic back pain. Sherilynn suffered from bipolar disorder and had been prescribed medication but since her condition was poorly controlled, she often experienced bouts of severe depression. The marriage was said to be in a bad state and the family kept to themselves.
Bobby and Sherilynn spoke to a local pastor about their belief that their home was invaded by dark spirits and that an exorcism might be needed. This was because Madyson had started talking to an imaginary friend named Emily and Sherilynn believed Emily was actually a malevolent entity. At one point, Bobby asked the pastor if he knew of anywhere he could purchase “special bullets” to shoot a handful of spirits whom he said were living on the roof of the family’s home. Bobby was also planning on trying to exorcise the spirits in the home with the help of a copy of The Satanic Bible that he had purchased.
A friend of Sherilynn’s told the police that she sometimes conducted seances with Sherilynn, though Sherilynn took them much more seriously than she did. Sherilynn had also written graffiti on their storage container about her black cats being poisoned, as she believed that someone from the neighborhood had killed her cats, and “witches did not like it when their cats were killed.”
Both friends and family agreed with the Jamisons that their home was haunted, and a few have shared that they, too, experienced odd things inside the house. Niki Shenold, Sherilyn’s best friend said “But in all seriousness, that house was haunted. I don’t want to sound crazy, but whenever I went there I felt a horrible presence, I would leave feeling so down and depressed”.
In July 2009, Sherrilyn’s ex-husband from her first marriage took custody of their son, Colton and in September, Sherrilyn was hospitalized following a failed suicide attempt. During the custody hearing, 12-year-old Colton said he would prefer to live with his Dad and he gave a statement about his mother, claiming that she had seemed “Very depressed” and that she often “acted strangely”.
Messages written by Sherilynn Jamison on the family’s storage container
The search for the Jamisons
Location of Jamison bodies and truck
During their initial absence, none of their friends and family felt any cause for concern. Bobby and Sherilyn were known to fall off the radar from time to time and Madyson had already been pulled out of school.
On Saturday, October 17th, 2009, hunters on dirt bikes ran across the Jamisons abandoned truck in Latimer County, north-west of Red Oak, and called police to report the vehicle. Initially, the police assumed the vehicle to have been stolen as the report suggested the truck to have only been on the roadside for a few hours, though later that day, the same hunter called back to confirm to police that he had seen it there, abandoned for a number of days.
It was about an hour’s drive from the Jamisons’ home in Eufaula. The Jamison family was nowhere to be seen despite a large search of the area around the truck.
Latimer County Sheriff Israel Beauchamp at first thought the truck had been stolen but soon realized something far more serious had taken place. He launched a huge search operation and combed the area with over 400 volunteers, horses, mules, ATVs, 16 teams of cadaver dogs and an unmanned drone. They found nothing. During the searches, the cadaver dog teams repeatedly found scent near a nearby water tower, which was promptly drained, though no evidence concerning the missing family could be found.
Police searched the truck and found Bobby and Sherilynn’s cellphones, $32,000 in cash, maps, a GPS, Sherilynn’s purse, and wallets. In addition, they found the family’s thirsty and malnourished dog. The vehicle was in working order, had fuel, and hadn’t been in an accident.
The $32,000 in cash stuffed under the driver’s seat was puzzling as the family was on disability benefit at the time. Was it to buy the land or something more sinister like drug dealing?
In the truck, investigators found an 11-page “hate” letter from Sherilynn to Bobby. She said he didn’t care about his daughter. She listed all the things she hated about Bobby, including that he was a loner and hermit and she wrote that she wanted a divorce.
During their initial investigations, the police found no signs of a struggle either in the vehicle and on the soft ground around the truck. There was no blood and no broken glass, although rubbish was strewn around the truck.
The Jamison Truck
Discovery of remains
On November 16, 2013, just 2.7 miles from where the truck was located, deer hunters discovered the skeletal remains of two adults and one child. They were in the Smokestack Hollow area of Panola Mountain. The area was extremely remote and the three bodies were severely decomposed and the remains consisted of three skulls, a number of bones and bone fragments, the victim’s shoes and some scraps of clothing.
Forensic testing confirmed eight months later that the remains were Bobby, Sherilynn, and Madyson Jamison. It had been four years since the Jamison’s had vanished from the truck.
When questioned why the initial searches had found nothing, despite their size, Assistant special agent of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation told reporters, that “Falling leaves potentially obscured the bodies”.
Due to the extensive decomposition that had occurred in the four years since their disappearance, it was deemed impossible to determine a cause of death, though one of the skulls, that of Bobby, had a small hole that was initially suspected as being a bullet wound. Later the police dropped this line of inquiry, but the hunters who found the bodies disagreed.
The local Sheriff’s department and FBI agents spent months chasing down leads and questioning potential suspects but all leads came to a dead end.
Speaking after the disappearance, Sheriff Beauchamp summed it up, saying: ‘A lot of investigators would love to have as many leads as we do. The problem is they point in so many different directions.’
The police found surveillance video footage from outside the Jamison’s home. the video shows Bobby and Sherilynn walking back and forth around 20 times from their house to their truck, loading items in a zombie-like trance. Sometimes they weren’t even carrying anything at all. At times, they stopped and stood with a vacant look on their faces.
The odd behavior in the CCTV video suggests that drugs may have been involved. But with severe depression and paranoia looming large over the family, it’s not hard to imagine that the house had a “heavy” feel to it.
When police checked the phone records of the mobile phone found in the truck, they found it had made an outgoing call to voicemail on November 12th, though it would have been locked inside the abandoned truck at the time.
Autopsy of the Jamison family
The bodies discovered were so badly decomposed, with no soft tissue present, with significant animal predation that a cause of death could not be determined. A hole that potentially could be a bullet hole was discovered in Bobby’s skull, but this could have been caused by animal activity.
What happened to the Jamisons?
Initially, Sheriff Beauchamp had thought that foul play was involved, but he left the service and the incoming Sheriff Jesse James told press when asked about the line of enquiry the case was following simply stated: “It’s a very strange deal, you know, the way this case has unfolded. We’re looking at a lot of things. A lot of things have crossed my mind.”
Later, after leaving the police force, Beauchamp said, “Normally, you can go through an investigation, and one by one, start to eliminate certain scenarios, we haven’t been able to do that in this case. With this family, everything seems possible.”
Lost in the woods. Perhaps the Jamison family decided to go for a quick hike in the woods and lost their way and died from hypothermia? The trouble with this theory is that the bodies were found lined up, side by side with their faces down. It looked like they had been execution-style. They were also found 3 miles from their truck, and given Bobby’s back problems it was unlikely he would have wanted to go walking in the hills.
Also, the Jamison’s truck was parked in such a way that it appeared that they were leaving and were stopped by somebody.
Murder-Suicide. Sherilynn was known to own a .22 caliber pistol that she carried with her in the truck. The coroner found a small hole in Bobby’s skull that might have been from a bullet, but neither Sherilynn nor Madyson had any gunshot evidence. The gun has never been found. and if Sherilynn had used it to kill her family and then shoot herself, why haas’t the weapon been located? Perhaps it was removed by someone else who came across it?
The Jamisons Were Members of a Satanic Cult. Sherilynn’s mother, Connie Kokotan, claims her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter was on an Oklahoma cult “hit list.”, “That part of Oklahoma is known for that…cults and stuff like that…from what I’ve been told and from what I’ve read. I was told (around the time of Sherilynn’s disappearance)…that she was on a cult’s hit list.” Connie didn’t provide the name of the alleged cult, nor have police found any links to one.
Drug Deal went wrong. The area of Oklahoma where the Jamison family lived, as well as the area they were hoping to move to in the San Bois mountains is well-known for its drug activity, namely meth labs involving the drug, methamphetamine. Bobby had recently reported someone in the local area for running one.
In the surveillance video where Bobby and Sherilynn were seen packing their truck in a trance-like state, the two also look thin, gaunt and unwell. Drugs would also explain the large sum of money found in the Jamisons’ truck.
Drug abuse could also explain the couple’s erratic behavior. One theory is that the Jamisons came upon illegal drug activity, saw more than they were supposed to, and were killed to keep them quiet. But why didn’t the dealers search the truck and take the valuables?
But after a search of the house, police found no evidence they were taking meth or any other illegal substances. There was no drug-related paraphernalia.
Bobby’s Dad Killed the Family. The family had filed a protective order against Bobby’s dad, Bob Dean Jamison claiming that he had threatened to kill them over some business dealings. In the protective order filed in April 2009, Bobby alleged that his father had intentionally hit him with his car on November 1, 2008, and that he was a “very dangerous man who thinks he is above the law” and that he was involved in “prostitutes, gangs, and meth.”
Prior to his death, Bob Dean had a long running feud with his son. It came to legal action when Bobby accused his father of reneging on an agreement to give him half the proceeds from the sale of a gas station he owned. Bob used to get Bobby to work at the gas station. Bob threatened the family and there were also rumors he had connections to the Mexican Mafia.
Bobby’s father died two months after the family went missing in December 2009 at the age of 64 and Bobby’s uncle, Jack Jamison, said Bobby’s dad was “either in a hospital or rest home” at the time of the disappearance, and that he was a disturbed individual but not capable of murder. Even if he didn’t commit the murders himself, did he pay someone to do the crime? Investigators said Bobby Dean had a solid alibi and dismissed him as a person of interest.
White supremacist Prior to the Jamisons’ disappearance, a handyman and family friend called Kenneth Bellows stayed with the family. In August 2009, upon finding out that Sherrilyn had Native American heritage, Bellow’s white supremacist leanings were uncovered. Arguments between the two broke out that resulted in Sherrilyn firing a .22 caliber pistol into the ground by his feet.
Sherilynn pointed a gun at him and forced him to leave the house.
The man had a solid alibi, so police dismissed him as a suspect, but it’s at least possible he had true connections to white supremacists and that Sherilynn’s name wound up on a hit list.
Family kidnapped by pedophiles. Perhaps the family was kidnapped so that the kidnapper or kidnappers could get to Madyson?
When police examined Bobby’s phone from the truck they found a final picture of Madyson, taken up on the mountain. Friends and family believe it was not taken by Madyson’s parents. ‘“In the picture, Madyson is looking away from the camera, she looks unhappy and she has her arms crossed… if that had been Bobby or Sherilyn behind the camera, she would not have looked like that”. It is debatable whether She really looks unhappy enough to determine whether the photo proves anything.
Madyson’s last picture
Witchcraft and possession. The family’s pastor Gary Brandon told police during the initial investigation that the family had been involved in ‘spiritual warfare’ and that both Bobby and Sherilyn had told him they had seen spirits at their home. Sherilyn said the spirits of a long-dead family lived with them.
At one point, Bobby asked Gary whether he could obtain ‘special bullets’ to shoot the spirits. He later said he had consulted the ‘satanic Bible’ to rid the property of the evil presence. A ‘witch’s bible’ was found in the house after their disappearance. Then strange messages were found written on the side of the container the family had planned to move into, sitting outside their house.
One read: ‘3 cats killed to date buy people in this area … Witches don’t like there (sic) black cat killed’. Sherilyn’s neighbors had apparently been poisoning their cats so wrote on the container to scare them off’
An abandoned wreck of a vehicle was found near where the family truck was found. It was used for shooting practice by locals and written on it were satanic messages.