Mud slows hunt for missing three in southeast Oklahoma

BY JOHNNY JOHNSON Staff Writer Modified: October 24, 2009 at 8:34 am •  Published: October 24, 2009
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RED OAK — Bobby Dale Jamison, his wife, Sherrilynn, and their 6-year-old daughter Madyson had already been missing for 14 days when search teams from across the region decided one last time to brave the mud-slick roads of the Red Oak Mountain area in southeastern Oklahoma.

The steep and winding oil and gas roads that had been bogging down pickups and horse trailers all morning were becoming too treacherous. Search conditions were poor, and black-powder deer season, which started today, meant it would be too dangerous to have search crews tromping through the woods.

After an all-out mass search with more than 100 people came up short last weekend, Latimer County Sheriff Israel Beauchamp knew Friday was probably going to be the last chance to unravel the mystery of the missing family. It was a big mountain, and the clock was ticking.

Beauchamp has been looking for the Jamison family since someone who lives in the area found their pickup Oct. 17, eight days after the resident remembered seeing the family in the area.

The pickup was parked at a well site, about 30 miles from the family’s Eufaula home. Beauchamp said the family had gone to look at a couple of 40-acre plots of land for possible purchase with what appeared to be plans to move a shipping container onto the secluded mountain land and live there.

Inside the pickup, investigators found Bobby Dale Jamison’s wallet, Sherrilynn Jamison’s purse, maps, a GPS, a "substantial” amount of cash, and a cell phone last used Oct. 8.

At first, Beauchamp said, it appeared the family had become lost because they were not at the location marked on the map, but investigators recently learned the site where the truck was parked was a second site where the family was looking for land.

Beauchamp said he was not ready to call the search effort a "recovery” for bodies at this point, but as the days have turned into weeks, some searchers have begun to prepare themselves for the worst.

Monty Jackson, a former state forester and experienced searcher said he doesn’t tend to make assumptions about what has happened or what he expects to find.

"We’re just here to do anything we can to try to help some people who need help,” Jackson said. "Nobody knows what’s going on. We’ll just look and see if we can find some clues.