A Georgia family is still searching for answers in the disappearance of a now 22-year-old mother Jessica Dietzel. Jessica went missing in mid-February last year before nation-wide attempts to lock down the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic began. Now, nearly a year later, law enforcement is reportedly no closer to finding the missing mother.
Jessica Dietzel was reported missing in mid-February, 2020 after losing contact with her family. She had been having problems with her cell phone, but had been using Facebook Messenger and other people’s cells to contact her mother, Kristina Johnson. Recalling their last conversation, Johnson said it was nothing out of the ordinary. “We spoke on the phone and she seemed fine,” she told Dateline, “But over the next few days, I tried to message her on Facebook and…nothing. She just never responded. It’s been a nightmare ever since.”
From the onset of the investigation, getting answers in the disappearance of Jessica Dietzel has been challenging. Due to the nebulous circumstances of her disappearance, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office has stated that the date of Jessica’s disappearance is unknown, projecting it to be any time between February 16 and March 1. According to Dateline, “APD authorities were informed that Jessica had been planning to visit someone who lives in a tent near Radium Springs Road next to the Flint River in Albany.” This lead resulted in LCSO working in tandem with Albany police to interview witnesses and follow up on a reported sighting of Jessica in Albany. In a joint effort between law enforcement and community, a search for Jessica was launched in the wooded area close to the river. Despite these efforts, no evidence was turned up of Jessica’s location.
By July 2020, all available leads in the disappearance of Jessica Dietzel still hadn’t yielded any answers. With so much time passing without answers, members of Jessica’s family began to question whether or not the LSCO was taking her case seriously or not. These family members have alleged that because Jessica has a history of substance abuse issues in the past, law enforcement is not prioritizing her case. Their suspicions are not out of the realm of plausibility—police departments have been known to drag their feet on missing person cases involving persons who have a history of substance abuse. Sometimes it’s the personal bias of the investigator against addicts that slows investigations, but investigators can also develop tunnel vision in cases where addicts go missing. Investigators may assume that the missing person is in the full swing of addict behavior and that they will eventually turn up. Whatever the reason, the amount of resources and attention on cases involving missing persons with any history of drug abuse can be severely lacking.
Chief Michael Parsley of Albany Police wants both the family and the public to know that they have not given up on Jessica’s case, “I would say those allegations are untrue. It doesn’t matter about your past with us. If anything, we want to know about your past. We want to know about any information that you may have so that it can help lead us to Jessica…I don’t want the family to feel that way. I hate that they feel that way, but every lead that they’ve given us, we’ve exhausted. Ms. Jessica, her disappearance is just as important as any other disappearance.” As they continue their investigation, APD has said that they might be re-interviewing relevant subjects in the case with new questions regarding the disappearance of Jessica Dietzel. In September of 2020, APD confirmed that new evidence had come to light that developed additional leads, but were not able to disclose what that evidence was.
In addition to raising a young child, Kristina Johnson also must budget her time and energy to multiple jobs and participating in the search for her daughter. Since her daughter’s disappearance, Kristina has been caring for her three-year-old daughter, Elena. Kristina told Dateline, “She looks exactly like Jessica…the same smile. It’s really heartbreaking. I don’t want her to grow up without her mommy.” It’s a truly wrenching sentiment after a year of missed holidays and special occasions that were punctured by Jessica’s absence. In addition to many other worry-stricken family members, Jessica’s disappearance is also deeply felt by her younger brother Mark, 21. Their birthdays are only a few days apart, and this year Mark was forced to celebrate a special day without his big sister. Despite the hole left by Jessica’s disappearance, the family remains hopeful that she will still be found.
Jessica is described as being 5’7”, 150 pounds with green eyes and long, straight blonde hair. The name “Elena” is tattooed on the left side of her chest near her collar bone. She has a nose ring in her right nostril, and a stud below her lower lip on the right side.
Anyone with any information on Jessica’s whereabouts is asked to call the Albany Police Department 229-431-2100, the Albany Area Crime Stoppers at 229-436-TIPS or the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at 229-759-6012