Authorities and loved ones are searching for missing mother of two Jessica Ashmore, a 34-year-old South Carolina woman last seen on May 19.
Jessica’s mother Angel Ashmore told Dateline that, at the time of her disappearance, Jessica was living in a mobile home on family property in Jonesville, South Carolina. Investigators say that around lunchtime on May 19, Jessica was at that property with her half-brother and a couple of other family members.
“She and her half-brother had a disagreement in the driveway. She took a right out of the driveway and left on foot, saying she was going for a walk,” Major John Sherfield of the Union County Sheriff’s Office, told Dateline. “She didn’t specify how long she would leave for.”
Jessica didn’t take her cell phone or any money with her, according to investigators. Her mother Angel said the road she was walking along is a rural, country road with few houses. According to Angel, the family believed Jessica was going on a walk and would be back soon.
But the next day, Jessica hadn’t returned.
“My son called me and asked me if Jessica had come by here, the day after she went walking, because she hadn’t shown back up over there, at the mobile home. And I said no, she hadn’t been by here,” Jessica’s mother Angel said. “At that point, I wasn’t concerned. Because I just figured she was at a friend’s house and she hadn’t gone far.”
The next day, more than 48 hours after Jessica was last seen, Angel received another call. Jessica still wasn’t home. She said she tried calling Jessica’s phone, but nobody answered.
“Even if Jessica don’t have a working cell phone, she’d always have Facebook Messenger and I could shoot her a message through that and she’d contact me right back,” Angel said. “But she wasn’t contacting me back. And I sent message after message after message and I wasn’t getting anything.”
A few more days went by with no word from the young mother. Union County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Scott Coffer said it was Saturday, May 25 when his office got a call reporting Jessica as missing.
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“That’s when I got [the case] and I’ve been working it ever since,” Investigator Coffer said. “We was already seven days behind the eight ball. We spoke to family members, her boyfriend, and close friends all on that Saturday night, but nothing turned up there.”
Angel said she and other family members also started searching that weekend.
“I was ready to get on it right then. So we started making up fliers and handing them out,” she said.
Investigator Coffer said authorities “decided to dig a little deeper” after Memorial Day came and went with no signs of Jessica.
“There was a couple of cameras at a house up the road [where she was walking.] We checked those and didn’t see her,” Investigator Coffer told Dateline “But there was another road she could’ve cut down before she got there -- and there were no video cameras on that road.”
Major Sherfield said authorities have since searched the family property, the mobile home, and the road on which Jessica was last seen.
“We had drones, help from neighboring counties, volunteers, members from the Union County Rescue Squad, and four cadaver dogs from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” Major Sherfield said. “We were looking for, of course, any evidence that would link us to her. But we did not find anything.”
Investigator Coffer said Jessica’s case is being treated as a missing persons investigation, and cadaver dogs were used because of the rural area and Jessica’s severe asthma condition. It’s unclear if Jessica had an inhaler with her when she disappeared.
“We don’t know if foul play is involved. We certainly hope not,” Major Sherfield said. “But we are treating it as such, just in case.”
Investigators say they’ve brought numerous people in for interviews.
“No one has been 100% ruled out, at this point. But there’s nothing solid to say one person did it,” Investigator Coffer told Dateline. “There is one person that we are kind of watching, I guess you could say. There is a person that we feel like could have information, who just hasn’t told us it yet.”
Jessica’s mother Angel also told Dateline she believes somebody has information about her missing daughter.
“People don’t just vanish into thin air without somebody knowing their whereabouts,” Angel said.
Jessica’s kids have lived with Angel since they were born, according to Angel, but Jessica never misses any of her children’s milestones.
“Her daughter had her graduation on Friday morning and she didn’t show up for that. She doesn’t miss anything for the kids,” Angel said. “I watched the door and just before the graduation was over, I started having a panic attack and I had to walk out because I knew something don’t feel right with her not being here.”
Angel said Jessica’s 17-year-old son is aware of his mother’s disappearance.
“He has been trying to be strong. He tries to put on a brave face, but he’s kind of crumbling under the pressure,” Angel said. “[Her daughter] London, she’s five -- I’ve tried to shelter her and try to keep her out of conversations I’ve had until we know what’s going on.”
Investigator Coffer said he speaks with Jessica’s mother daily and follows up on every tip they receive. Major Sherfield said it’s “very rare” for someone to go missing for so long in Union County, and he urges those with information to come forward.
“No matter how minute they think [the tip] is, please contact us so we can follow up on it,” he said. “Any information is valuable to us.”
Jessica Ashmore is described as being 5’5” tall and weighing about 145 lbs. She has brown hair and blue eyes. If you have any information on Jessica’s disappearance, please call the Union County Sheriff’s Office at (864) 429-1611. You can also contact Crime Stoppers by submitting a tip on http://www.p3tips.com or by calling 1-888-CRIME-SC.
Bianca Hillier covers missing person and homicide cases for NBC News.