Bobby and Sherilyn Jamison, and their six-year-old daughter Madyson, went missing in the Red Oak Mountain area of southeast Oklahoma in October 2009. Over 100 people were enlisted to search for the Jamison family, but no sign of them was found until November 2013, when the skeletal remains of two adults and a child were found in the woods, face down and side-by-side, roughly three miles from where their vehicle had been abandoned. It wasn’t until July 2014 that these remains were positively identified as the Jamison family, though a cause of death was never determined. Rather than provide closure to the Jamisons’ friends and family, it just raised questions as to what really happened to the them.
The Jamisons lived in Eufaula, Oklahoma, about 30 miles away from where they were found in the isolated mountain range. Red Oak is home to just over 500 people, and the Jamisons were interested in purchasing a 40-acre plot of land (although Sherilyn’s son from a previous relationship, Colton, saw his mother just weeks before she went missing and never mentioned plans to move). When their truck was found in 2009, there was no sign of distress or a struggle, and the vehicle had not crashed. Inside the car were Bobby and Sherilyn’s wallets, IDs, mobile phones, a GPS, maps, and $32,000 in cash. More disturbingly, the family dog Maizy was also in the car, malnourished from not having eaten in a week. (The dog survived, and went to live with Bobby’s mother.)
Theories surrounding what happened to the Jamison family have swirled since the disappearance, but nothing has ever been substantiated.
One theory suggests that it was a murder-suicide. Both adults had suffered from depression, Sherilyn most recently after the death of her sister. A spiteful, 11-page letter written to Bobby from Sherilyn was found in the abandoned truck, and Sherilyn’s pistol was missing. Another theory points to Bobby’s father, Bob Jamison Sr. Bobby had a contemptuous relationship with his father, stemming from the profit of a gas station that was supposed to be split between father and son when it sold. Bobby ended up suing his father. His mother, Starlet, claims her ex-husband threatened the family. Police decided it was not a credible theory – despite rumors of Bob Sr.’s alleged ties to the Mexican Mafia. He died two months after his son went missing.
Drugs were also thought to be part of the equation. Red Oak is known for producing crystal meth, and Sherilyn and Bobby both looked “emaciated” in the weeks before their disappearance. Security video of the two outside their house the day they left for the mountains showed them moving in a “trance-like state,” and the huge amount of cash in their truck made this a credible theory. Even Sherilyn’s best friend, Niki Shenold, thought that it is possible the Jamisons were possibly involved in a one-off meth deal because they were experiencing some money troubles at the time. But both Sherilyn’s mother Connie and Bobby’s mother Starlet do not believe their kids were involved in drugs, and police found no evidence of illicit substances in the Jamison home or truck.
The most interesting theory behind the death of the Jamison family has to do with cults, witchcraft, and evil spirits. During the initial investigation (before the bodies were found), the family’s pastor Gary Brandon told police the Jamisons had been involved in “spiritual warfare.” Both Bobby and Sherilyn claimed to have seen spirits in their house, belonging to a family who died long ago. Daughter Madyson claimed to speak to spirit of a child who died in the house. Bobby asks his pastor for “special” bullets to shoot the spirits with, and claimed he consulted a satanic bible to exorcise the property.
Niki admits both she and Sherilyn were interested in witches, and both had bought witches’ bibles “as a joke,” which the police found when searching the Jamison property. Despite joking about witches, Niki felt the Jamison house was haunted. “Once I was in the living room and this sort of grey mist descended down the stairs. It really scared me,” Niki told the Daily Mail. She also said that Sherilyn told her her “gentle” husband Bobby would come towards her with eyes “completely dead and black, like he was possessed.” Niki doesn’t believe witchcraft was behind her friend’s death, but Sherilyn may have been a bigger believer than Niki. She would leave notes around the house that would say things like “Get out, Satan” and was researching whether the house was built on a Native American burial ground.
Unlike Niki, Connie Kokotan, Sherilyn’s mother, believes her family fell victim to witchcraft of a religious cult. Connie claims that that portion of Oklahoma is known for harboring “cults and stuff like that,” and was told that Sherilyn was on a “cult’s hit list” around the time of her disappearance. Connie doesn’t offer the name of the cult, or any other details.
The trail in the Jamison case is now cold. Israel Beauchamp, the sheriff at the time of the disappearance, quit the force in 2011 and moved overseas. According to Niki, he couldn’t stand the guilt of not being able to find Madyson’s killer. Pastor Gary Brandon also left the area shortly after the Jamison disappearance and has not spoken to anyone about the case. Even though the Jamisons’ remains were found and put to rest, not knowing what happened has caused torment to the surviving friends and family that will probably never end.