Details of Disappearance
Jessica voluntarily left her family's residence in Union, Missouri on December 26, 1995 and went to a friend's home. She was supposed to call her mother at 5:00 p.m. to say whether she'd be home for dinner.
Jimmy Hopkins picked Jessica up from her friend's home. He was 23 years old in 1995 and was the son of a friend of Jessica's mother's. Hopkins's photo is posted with this case summary.
Hopkins paid Mark Henderson to give him and Jessica ride in Henderson's aqua two-door 1994 Chevrolet Cavalier. Henderson stated that while he was driving, Jessica sat silently in the backseat with her head down. He said Hopkins told him Jessica was pregnant with his child and they were going to Niagara Falls, New York to get married. He showed Henderson some wedding rings.
Jessica's mother later denied that her daughter was dating Hopkins and stated she had a medical reason to know Jessica was not pregnant at the time of her disappearance. Jessica's best friend said she hadn't mentioned a boyfriend to her either.
Hopkins, Henderson and Jessica checked into the Dollar Inn in the 1000 block of north Main Street in Cloverdale, Indiana during the early evening hours. Jessica and Hopkins stayed in room 222 while Henderson checked into room 224. Henderson told authorities that he heard loud noises from Jessica and Hopkins's room during the night. He said the sounds were similar to a body being thrown against a wall. Henderson said Hopkins claimed he and Jessica were having sexual intercourse at the time.
Both Jessica and Hopkins disappeared by the following morning, as did Henderson's vehicle, which he reported stolen. Authorities learned that Hopkins pawned his grandmother's wedding ring in Paris, Tennessee, 300 miles from Cloverdale, later in the day on December 27.
Less than two weeks later, Henderson's car was found abandoned in Compton, California. Investigators discovered Hopkins worked for a time at a Compton-area ice cream store, and witnesses saw him with a girl matching Jessica's description; they believe she did arrive in California with him. Jessica has never been heard from again.
Hopkins returned to Missouri alone in the late spring or early summer of 1996. Investigators were unable to question him about Jessica's disappearance until November 1996. He said he had not harmed her and had last seen her at a hotel in the Hollywood, California area with a Mexican man known only as Capone. The address he gave for the hotel, however, turned out to be a vacant lot.
Hopkins allegedly told several people in later years that he had murdered Jessica and disposed of her body. In April 2008, Hopkins shot his wife to death inside their Joplin, Missouri home and then died by suicide. He was never charged in Jessica's case, but authorities and Jessica's mother believe he murdered her.
Jessica enjoys Mexican and Chinese food, as well as Pepsi, Kool-Aid, milk and tea. Her favorite movies were Dirty Dancing and the 1991 television film Sarah, Plain and Tall. Jessica's favorite sitcoms were America's Funniest Home Videos, Saved By The Bell and Full House. She enjoyed spending time with her dog, Max, as well as camping in the summer, collecting porcelain dolls and swimming. Her favorite color was hunter green.
Jessica was a seventh-grade student at Union Middle School in 1995. Her family members said she had a shy nature when interacting with unfamiliar people, but she was outgoing when with her friends.
Missouri authorities are handling Jessica's case, which remains unsolved. Her parents left Union and moved to Independence, Missouri in 1998; they still live there today. Jessica'a family held a memorial service for her in 2006. Some agencies may list Union, Missouri as the location of her disappearance, and that city's police are investigating.