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Did You Lock The Door?
Did You Lock The Door?

Episode 12 · 2 years ago

The Mysterious Disappearance of Jesse Ross

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Hi, welcome back to did you lock the door? The podcast. I'm your host, Peyton Reese. I'm going to be solo once again this week, practicing social distancing as best I can, so sadly that means no cohosts, but we're getting through it. Today I am going to be discussing the disappearance of a man named Jesse Ross. This is a case that I'm pretty sure I first heard about through the trace evidence podcast. He did a two parter with this and one other case, because there isn't exactly a plethora of information on this one. Well, I do think the more that I look into it, the more it is clear what did actually happen to Jesse. Again, this is one that isn't chock full of information, like so many other famous missing persons cases are. So, without further ADO, we'll jump right into it. Jesse Ross was born on February eighteen of nineteen eighty seven, at around four in the morning. This would make him an Aquarius. He was delivered at the University of Kansas Medical Center to parents dawn and Donna Ross, which I think is so cute. Down and Donna, like, come on. He had a brother, Andy who, from what I could find, is older than him. I didn't actually see whether he was older or younger stated in any news articles or anything, but from the pictures that I have seen of Jesse that his family has put out, it does appear that Andy is the older brother. Jesse would somehow get coined the nickname opie. That, from what I can find, absolutely everyone has called him throughout his entire life and that such a cute nickname. I love that. It just, I don't know, it's very soft, how cute. At the age of three, Jesse began attending a preschool program at a local high school in his area, Raytown, south high they actually had something called the Early Childhood Program, in which students can earn extra credit by working with preschoolers. Once Jesse aged out of this program, he was enrolled by his parents at St Regis Catholic Churches School Program, and he would attend classes here all the way through the eighth grade. Jesse and his family were all devout Catholics. The four of them would all be greatly involved with this church their entire life. His parents and his brother to this day or still quite involved in the church, even as an elementary and middle schooler. Jesse was very involved in school programs and in his community. In addition to all of the work he did for his church, he actually volunteered at a local daycare called Saint Monica's. He was a cub scout and eventually that would lead him to be a boy scout, and he ran track and played soccer. He was always a big sports fan and his favorites were the chiefs and the University of Kansas sports teams. He's described by his family and everyone that knew him as very fun and outgoing, with a heart for helping people, and he clearly lived up to this reputation. Like I've been saying, he was always out in the community helping in some way and just making sure that he was doing his part to make his community the best that it could possibly be. Once he graduated from Middle School, Jesse would go on to attend Archbishop O'Hara high and while...

...in high school he would remain active in sports, still running track and adding cross country, and he became part of his school's Yearbook Staff, as well as being part of something called the bleacher bums. This is a group that I found to be described as a pep club. So I'm assuming that they functioned as something similar to cheerleaders, like cheering on their school when it came to sports games and things like that. Also well, in High School, he at tamed a job for a local theater along with his brother. His brother had worked there at the time that Jesse got the job, and this has said to have brought the two closer as well to have gained the both of them many friends and their fellow co workers. They liked to spend a lot of time together, Jesse and his brother and all the co workers. One of their favorite things to do was going out to steak and shake after work and hanging out. And while I will admit that steak and shake has good food, they once gave me pretty violent food poisoning. So sadly, I cannot endorse this hang out spot for Jesse, but I'm glad that he loved it. Apparently he was never one to feel over extended, because Jesse also agreed at this time to work as a promoter for one of his co workers bands, a band named a dead giveaway. This job would involve organizing events for the band and traveling with them from time to time when they went to play shows. He also got a job working at target around the same time, so he was clearly a very busy boy, not one to ever sit back and relax. He would graduate from High School in two thousand and five and go on to attend the University of Missouri Kansas City, where he would major in communications and minor in political science. He quickly joined his school's Model UN organization and in two thousand and five he would attend his first model on conference that would take place in Chicago. Jesse was very excited about this conference because he had visited Chicago previously with his family. He loved it very much and he hoped one day that whatever job he got would bring him there to work. While starting college, Jesse also joined a group called the Spirit Committee, and this group helped organize on campus activities for students. Perhaps most excitingly, Jesse would acquire a job at an on campus radio station called ninety five point seven, the VIBE, and after getting to know Jesse a little bit and his fun outgoing personality, he was actually quickly given his own radio show called shorty and the boys. That quickly became very popular fellow students. In early two thousand and seven, actually sadly, he would never see this day, but Jesse was set to get a promotion at that radio station, which would mean he would finally be getting paid for his time. And in two thousand and seven he also planned on joining the lamb to Chai Alpha fraternity. This fraternity is actually one that has a house on my campus as well, so just to give you a little background on them, they are one of the largest social fraternities in North America. Founded one thousand nine hundred and nine, they quickly grew in popularity and have now recruited the third highest number of pledges ever, so that's pretty impressive. He clearly had high aspirations and I'm sure he would have reached in November of two thousand and six, Jesse would once again travel to Chicago for another Machi in conference. This conference was being held at the Sherton Hotel and towers, again in Chicago, and this hotel actually is now called the Shereton grand. However, while the conference was being held at this hotel, Jesse and his fellow students were staying at a hotel that I wasn't able to find the name of, but I have been able to find that it was about a ten minute walk from the share it...

...to hotel and towers. On the afternoon of November twenty, Jesse called his mom to check in with her and to let her know how much fun he had been having. He assured her that he would reach out again the next day when the students were scheduled to pack up and head back home. Donna, who again is Jesse's MOM, reported that Jesse was the kind of son that would check in with her so often just to update her on his day to day life, what he was up to, anything fun that happened that day. The two were very, very close and reportedly there was not much, if anything, that Jesse did not share with her. Of course, unless we hear that from Jesse, we don't know if that's true, but from everything I've heard, he did seem to be kind of an open book and everyone reports that he did in fact have a very, very close relationship with his mom and he shared quite a lot with there. So I think it's safe to say that she did know most, if not everything, about her son. At around eight PM that same evening. Sara, remember in November twenty all of the attendees were at an evening session that lasted until about nine pm. Following this, he and his fellow classmates traveled back to their hotel at which they were staying, and once back of this hotel, the of age students apparently brought alcohol for everyone, and all of the students drink together. It's important to note that Jesse was only nineteen at this time. But eyewitness accounts have stated that he wasn't drinking a lot, a lot. He wasn't drunk or intoxicated or stumbling, sluring his words or anything like that. But a couple other students have reported that they did witness him have a drink or two, which I don't want to sound like I'm shaming him for, I think, especially in college. So that's a very, very normal thing to do when you're stuck in hotel room with no adults, no supervision and there's alcohol in there. I mean, I can't say I blame him. So from midnight to just before zero in the morning, a dance for all of the mock UN conference attendees had been held. There had also been drinking going on at the dance that Jesse is also said to have taken. Pardon again, not to the point of obvious intoxication, but he was seen consuming alcohol, despite the fact that he had not seemed intoxicated. It is possible that he had been consuming alcohol at this point since around thirty ten PM. And again, like I just said, this dance went from midnight to two am. So if you're drinking continuously, even if you weren't drinking in copious amounts, from thirty to two am, it is possible that, even if he didn't seem like it, he was fairly intoxicated at the time. At two in the morning of November twenty one, an emergency meeting was called for all the machun attendees and reportedly, over a thousand students were in attendance, and they have been able to collect eyewitness reports from many of these students that confirmed that Jesse was there. I've never been to I mean, I'm a political science student myself and but I am not in my school's Model UN club. I've never been to one of these machuan conferences, but I cannot believe that they called a two am emergency meeting right after a twohour dance, where I'm sure that, I mean they had to at least guess they knew that some students there were over the age of twenty one, or at least twenty one, and would probably be bringing alcohol. So I feel very bad for the students that they had to go and party for two hours and then attend a meeting where they had to discuss like serious, real life international relations issues. I imagine that would not have been easy. I know that if I had been drinking for two to four hours at that point, my politics part of my brain is not functioning anymore. I can promise you that.

So at around thirty am, just half an hour after the meeting had begun, Jesse leaned over to whisper something to one of his friends and then he got up and walked out of the room. The friend sadly did not hear what Jesse had said, but he assumed it was something along the lines of Hey, dude, I'm tired, I'm going to go back to her hotel, or something like that. Jesse is caught on hotel security cameras. His fiery red hair is pretty hard to miss and he was dressed in the same outfit that he had been confirmed as wearing at the meeting, and that was a white Tshirt, a green jacket and blue jeans. He did not appear to be heading towards the hotel's main exit, however. He was actually heading towards a much less utilized exit that was closer to the back of the hotel, and him seeming to walk towards this exit is actually the last footage of, or sighting of all really, that we have of Jesse. He was never caught on tape actually exiting the hotel and, as far as we know, he was not caught on any security footage out about in the city of Chicago. The Path that he would have taken back to the hotel where he was actually staying and sleeping at was littered with security cameras and street lights, a combination of things that, in my opinion, would have made it very difficult for Jesse not to have been seen by these cameras. Of course, it is possible that Jesse might have taken another route, but, considering a couple of things, I don't think that that's true. First of all, he was not super familiar with Chicago and this is the route that he was used to taking. It is, as far as I know, the route that he took the previous year when he went to the conference. It is the one that he and his friends had been taking the entire time they were there this time, and it was almost three in the morning at this point, and I find it pretty doubtful that he would have chosen to take a different route so late at night. I mean again, I am under the belief that he was at least slightly intoxicated, so maybe something in his kind of intoxicated brain told him to find a new route have some fun. But again, with it being so late, or so early in the morning, whatever you want to say, and with this being the route that he had been used to for two years now, I don't think it's likely that he would have chosen to take another way home or back to the hotel. Once the friend that Jesse was rooming with got back to their hotel room, he did not think anything was wrong because he didn't turn on the lights when he got back. He figured Jesse was already there sleeping and he actually saw a pile of clothes on Jesse's bed that the roommate mistook for him. So once he saw those clothes, he definitely wasn't going to turn on the lights because he was like, oh, that's Jesse. He's asleep, let me just climb in bed. No need to disrupt him. Once he however, he realized that Jesse was not there and, due to the undisturbed pile of clothes, likely had not s slept there the previous night. Alarm bells weren't ringing quite yet, however. At first he assumed that maybe Jesse had slept there he just gotten home and didn't want to move the clothes, we slept on top of them and now he was out with friends, or that maybe he spent the night in another friend's room, because, from what I can gather, all of these mockyen students were pretty close, pretty good friends, so it's not out of the realm of possibility for sure that Jesse could have found another friend on the way home and just decided to room with them instead for the night. Soon, however, it was time for students to pack up and a head home. Jesse was still nowhere to be found at this time, and one of the faculty supervisors was finally alerted to the fact that Jesse seemed to be missing. He would immediately call Jesse's father to let him know the situation, but to reassure him that they were going to look for Jesse and would call back once he was found, and they were sure he would be found down who remember is Jesse's father said he tried so hard to stay...

...calm, but he immediately feared the worst. Something inside him just told him that this situation was bad. Police were also notified immediately that Jesse was nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, however, thanksgiving was just around the corner at this point, so most of the witnesses that would have been in the area had travel plans that would prevent them from being immediately interviewed by the police and therefore giving the most clear recent recollection of what they had seen, if they had seen anything that night. One of the staff chaperones that had gone with Jesse's Model UN team would stay to assist in the search and to talk to police, but other than that, everyone else that was there with Jesse, fellow classmates included, people who would be key witnesses, were sent home. The police, as they often do, first lean towards the possibility that Jesse was missing of his own accord. Best case scenario, they thought he was just out having fun in Chicago. Worst case scenario, he had left to start a new life or even to end his own soon. However, due to lack of Jesse on any security footage other than a couple of minutes in the hotel, they began to lean toward the possibility that Jesse had, knowing that the Chicago River was right behind the hotel where the emergency meeting had taken place, may have decided to visit the river and have, either in a drunken stupor or on accidents, fallen in and been swept out to Lake Michigan. Jesse's parents are very big opponents to this theory. They do not believe this to be the case even in the slightest one of Jesse's fellow classmates put forth the idea that Jesse might have headed out into the city to pass out flyers for a band that he was promote promoting at the time. Well, this is not something that one would normally do, especially at this time of night, almost three in the morning. It is quite important to remember that Jesse had been drinking, like I've said. This, coupled with his outgoing and carefree personality, do lead me to believe that, despite not knowing the city, this is something that Jesse very may well have done. He might have felt fearless due to the influence of alcohol and he might have just felt, for whatever reason in that moment, that it was important to go out and promote this band and that Chicago was a great cities do that in. And had it been daytime, he would not have been wrong. Because certainly this is not the theory that I leaned towards, but I don't think that it is super far outside of the realm of possibility. If this is the case, as Jesse's parents believe it is, it's easy to see how, in Chicago, a city whose crime rates are almost double that of the rest of America's, he might have met with foul play. In the scenario, I think it would be most likely that he was mugged or something of that sort, and it either went very wrong or very right in terms of the perpetrator, for instance, maybe he didn't intend to kill Jesse, yet when things got too intense and he accidentally did, he just got incredibly lucky in the disposal of the body, or he did see Jesse, plan to Mug him and kill him and he still got very lucky in disposing of his body. CHICAGO, however, is one of this country's, America's, largest cities and even at the time was covered in security cameras well. It would have been impossible for a police to check every single camera in the city. It's likely that they would have caught him on the ones closer to the hotel and, as I've said, he was not caught on any of them. He was not even caught leaving the hotel. So that kind of points me away from this possibility. And again, had Jesse ventured out into the city to pass out flyers or something, he likely would have had to go back to the hotel that he was staying at to retrieve those flyers, because he did...

...not have anything on his person when he exited the meeting. It was just the clothes on his back and that is all. And again, as I stated earlier, I don't think that Jesse would have taken an alternative route back to the hotel. So I think we would have seen him heading back to his hotel and then exiting that with the flyers, had that be what his plan was for later that evening, or later that earlier, early morning, whatever you want to call it. Jesse's mother, Donna Ross, has been quoted as saying that, quote, aliens took him away and, quote, well, she admits that the sounds ridiculous. She is certain in her heart of hearts that foul play is the reason for Jesse's disappearance and the lack of evidence, she feels, kind of points her in this direction. She soon knows that if he had met with foul play in the city, it likely would have been can camera, or at least Jesse would have been caught on camera. While she is also quoted as stating that she knows how ridiculous this explanation sounds, so I'm not sure if she truly believes it, it is one that she has brought up. That's just something I thought I would mention. I do not believe that Jesse made the decision to either start a new life that night or to end his own. So I will not spend that much time on this theory, but I will say that, well, again, I do think it is unlikely. I will acknowledge that it's certainly not impossible. I'd lean away from this one, especially because, again, if he had gone to start a new life, I'm sure he would have been seen exiting the hotel and walking through downtown Chicago. I think it's likely that he probably would have gotten back to his hotel and at least gotten his things, like his wallet and his phone. And again, I just don't think. I think the lack of surveillance in this case points me to one very specific theory, and that coupled with the fact that Jesse had so much going for him and he really seemed to be actively building a life and preparing for his future. While someone can certainly be doing all of that and still completely go mia one day to build their own new life somewhere else or make the decision to end their life, very sadly, Jesse, you just really strikes me as someone that was so happy and so looking forward to where his life was heading. At this point, I really do not lean towards this theory. I personally always like to look to the craziest possible explanations when it comes to unsolved cases. In this case, so would probably be Donna's alien abduction theory. However, sadly for this one, I do believe that the explanation is fairly straightforward. Jesse was last seen heading toward a hotel exit that was not widely used and therefore there was much less security in terms of cameras. Due to this, I think it's entirely possible, if not probable, that Jesse exited the hotel through an area that just had fewer cameras and therefore, fiery red hair and all, he was just able to slip through unnoticed. It is simply a fact that Jesse had been drinking that night and, as we all know, like I think I've said before, even a bit of alcohol in our systems can cause us to make decisions that normally our entirely sober brains would not make. It is also worth noting that Chicago is very cold in November. I've been there in November myself and I promise you, it is freezing, and this means that the Chicago River would have been both freezing and covered in a thin layer of ice. So if Jesse did in fact fallen, it is likely that the sudden freezing temperatures, his body would have been engulfed and would have prevented him from getting out of the river, and they might even have prevented him from being able to scream and therefore alert someone to his predicament. It's likely that, had he fallen in his body would...

...have been swept out to Lake Michigan, and Lake Michigan, according to statistics that the podcast trace evidence put forward, is almost as large as the entire country of Ireland. It makes perfect sense why, in a lake this fast, his body would not have been found yet, if that is where he resides. Chicago is such a huge and therefore heavily surveiled city that had Jesse ventured out into the night to somewhere other than the Chicago River through the back of the hotel, I'm almost certain that he would have been caught on CCTV. As much as his parents wants to believe that the explanation is not this simple, this is one of the few missing persons cases where, truly I do believe that the simplest explanation is in fact the correct one. Jesse was a very intelligent young man. Sadly, that would not necessarily have prevented him from succumbing to a fate such as falling into the Chicago River and just not being able to climb out. Jesse's parents are definitely the most heartbreaking aspect of this case. I mean, aside from Jesse probably losing his life, obviously they have never and will never give up on their son. They've stated that the not knowing is so much worse for them than had he been found dead. At least done they would have a son to bring home. Donna is quoted as saying, quote, we pray for a sign, anything. We pray if he is in heaven with you. That's not my first choice, but God, please give us a sign. Send me an email, a phone call, something. We have to know that he's okay in with you. When you lose someone you love, they pass on, you grieve and then you move on with your life. We are nowhere. We are still stuck in that revolving door. We know nothing more than we knew that first day. If you do have any information on the disappearance of Jesse Ross, who was nineteen at the time, please call the Chicago Police Department at one, two, seven, four, four, eight, two, six, six. You never know what information might crack this case wide open and bring Jesse home to his family that so desperately desperately Miss and love him. As always, thank you so so much for tuning in. I so appreciate it. You can follow me on instagram and twitter, both at lock the door pod and stay safe, stay social distancing, stay washing your hands and make sure you lock your doors by.

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