A former Apache Junction resident is hoping the reopening of a cold case will shed new light on the disappearance of her mother.
During a phone interview last month, Jennifer Stafford said she had received a phone call from a deputy with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office who told her she was reopening a case involving Ms. Stafford’s mother, Pamela Gay Jones, whom Ms. Stafford has not heard from or seen since Nov. 2, 1993, she said.
“I’m excited they’ve reopened it, that it’s not just laying out there,” Ms. Stafford said.
Ms. Stafford, who now resides in Washington state, said her family — her mother; stepfather Kenneth Dale Jones; maternal grandmother and other family members — were living in Apache Junction when her mother disappeared.
“He ended up coming back that night and she didn’t,” Ms. Stafford said.
She said her mother, then 39, left AJ at 1:30 a.m. Nov. 2, 1993 and drove to Tempe to pick up her stepfather from work. When her stepfather returned alone, he told the family he and Mrs. Jones had argued about how long it took her to pick him up, Ms. Stafford, who was 13 at the time, said.
He told the family the couple also argued about other matters while they drove around, and Mrs. Jones got out of the car at Usery Pass and McKellips Road in Mesa, Ms. Stafford said. She said her stepfather and grandmother then got back in the car and drove to the site where Mrs. Jones had gotten out of the car. She said they drove 2 miles in all directions but could not find Mrs. Jones.
Ms. Stafford said the family then called the Apache Junction Police Department and were told officers could not consider it a missing persons case until Mrs. Jones had been missing for 48 hours.
Because Mrs. Jones reportedly walked away from her vehicle in Mesa, MCSO deputies investigated the case. Deputies questioned her stepfather multiple times but he never veered from his original statements about his wife’s disappearance, Ms. Stafford said.
Mr. Jones died in 2012, taking any information about the case with him, she said.
MCSO Detective Christina Buccaro contacted the family as part of an effort to update the cold cases in the MCSO homicide department, she said during a phone interview last month. She said she is not actively investigating the case and has no leads.
“In this particular case, we can’t say (Mrs. Jones) is deceased or has left her family. Essentially I’m just updating the case files,” Detective Buccaro said. “But we are doing everything we can to make sure we have any possible information and have it on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database in case her remains are located and if we get something that sounds familiar.”
The updates include obtaining DNA samples from Ms. Stafford and her brother in case the DNA can be used to identify Mrs. Jones’ body if it is found, Ms. Stafford said.
Detective Buccaro said the investigators who handled the case considered Mr. Jones the main suspect, adding it is possible Mrs. Jones did just walk away as her husband claimed.
“We have found people who didn’t want to be found but more than likely something happened to her. But for right now we really can’t do much but make sure we have as much information in place as we can. We want to make sure we don’t let anything slip through the cracks,” she said.
Jennifer Stafford continues to reach out to the public for help through social media.
On Sept. 17, Ms. Stafford posted a description of her mother’s appearance the day she went to pick up her husband.
She said her mother was 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds. She said her mother was wearing a black ski jacket, black jeans and white leather shoes.
People who have any information about the case can call Detective Buccaro at 602-876-3868. Mrs. Jones’ case in listed on the NAMUS website.
Reach staff writer Wendy Miller at email@example.com