Details of Disappearance
Jayson was last seen at his home in Phoenix, Arizona on April 15, 1983. He was abducted by his non-custodial stepfather, John David Grooms. A photo of Grooms is posted with this case summary.
Grooms and Jayson's mother, Napolean Pearce, had met in January 1983 and married just three days later. Napolean stated he was physically abusive towards both his stepsons and she was "deathly afraid" of him.
In March 1983, she was arrested for driving while intoxicated; Jayson had been a passenger in her car at the time. In April, she was arrested again for the same offense and served ten days in jail. When she was released from jail, she came home and found both Jayson and Grooms missing. Grooms had left a note reading, in part,
"You are an unfit parent. [Jayson's older brother] is only 6 years old and he is lying just like you. If it is possible, I will see that Jayson doesn't turn out like that. Believe me, Jayson is safe and being well cared for. I wish I could have done the same for [Jayson's brother]."
Grooms wrote other notes to friends, saying Napolean was a bad mother and he was going to give Jayson to another family, one that practiced the Quaker religion, so he could grow up in a "healthy, normal environment." He wrote that Jayson would be "safe and happy" with his new caregivers.
He was indicted for felony custodial interference in June 1983, and when he was located in Durango, Colorado in January 1984, he was arrested. Jayson wasn't with him at the time and Grooms refused to say where he was.
In the summer of 1984, Grooms was sentenced to the maximum term of 1.8 years in prison for aggravated custodial interference; the sentence was later reduced on appeal to 1.5 years. He served eight months before he was released. He had refused to cooperate with the investigation or even admit to having taken Jayson.
The child's whereabouts remain unknown and his case remains unsolved.