Missing persons update

Jaqleen Amber Grimes and Joshua Chester Flanagin have been missing since early June.

WINSTON COUNTY - Law enforcement wants to assure family members of both Joshua Chester Flanagin and Jaqleen Amber Grimes, who both went missing about five days apart in early June, that investigation into both disappearances remains active and all leads are being checked.

Searches have been ongoing, and all leads  on the disappearances of Flanagin, 36, and Grimes, 33, both of Double Springs, are being investigated according to the Winston County Sheriff’s Office.

Grimes was last seen on June 1, on Highway 195 in the Black Pond area, and was believed to have gotten into an unidentified vehicle with an unknown male, according to Winston County Sheriff Caleb Snoddy.

Flanagin--who was last seen by family members around 3:30 p.m. on June 6 and is believed to have a condition that impairs his judgment--has possibly been seen walking on Highway 195 north of Double Springs near County Road 6, wearing a teal T-shirt and blue jeans, Snoddy noted.

“He may have been seen entering a maroon car but (of) unknown make or model,” Snoddy said.

Flanagin was later possibly spotted by a motorist while he was on foot in the area of County Road 8 in Black Pond, wearing the same clothing as when he was first possibly seen, according to law enforcement officials.

Flanagin has been described as five feet, seven inches in height, weighing 180 pounds with brown eyes and black hair.

Grimes has been described as five feet, two inches in height, weighing 110 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.

As two months have passed since the disappearances, the sheriff’s office has given updates to let family members know they are working any and all leads.

To this day, law enforcement say they do not have any evidence the two disappearances are connected.

Investigators discuss Grimes case
Concerning Grimes, Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jacob Eward stated they are following every lead, including every possible sighting.

Grimes was reportedly last seen in the Double Springs area, and according to family members, she was last seen by a male who informed the family she left his house at 10:42 p.m. on June 1.

“We have done several search warrants for her phone, her social media accounts. We have learned some things from those,” Eward stated. “And we are following those leads.

“We have found a few messages that led us to different areas,” Eward added.

In the interest of following each and every lead in the case, law enforcement even followed the advice given to them by a psychic, and stating that a lead came to them by a family member of Grimes.

“The psychic was advising us that (Grimes) was at a location in Lawrence County,” stated Sheriff’s Investigator Josh Bennett.

The psychic had claimed to have seen in a vision that Grimes was in Lawrence County, giving precise coordinates of latitude and longitude, which took law enforcement to some farm land, where the psychic claimed that Grimes was deceased and had been buried in a shallow grave, according to law enforcement.

“Investigators, when they got there and searched the area, that she was in a fork in the road that we would be able to walk upon,” Bennett stated.

Bennett and Sheriff’s Investigator Eric Faith responded to the specific coordinates having been given by the psychic, which took them to the Town Creek area, Bennett explained.
Investigators spent well over half a day searching the area, found the fork in the road the psychic had mentioned but none of the other details, even after an extensive grid search.

“No signs of any ground disturbed,” said Bennett, “no sign of anything.

“...It was a lead that we followed that came up with negative results,” he pointed out.

Eward noted he desired this point to be illustrated, in order to show that any and all leads, no matter how far-fetched, will be checked out.

“If we get a lead on that, we coordinate with other agencies, and say, ‘Hey, we’ve had a possible sighting of Ms. Grimes or Mr. Flanagin,’ and we coordinate and do all of this.

“There is a lot going on behind the scenes that our investigators are doing,” Eward pointed out. Possible sightings have included places from as far away as  California to more local sites such as Russellville, Lawrence County and Birmingham.

“We are not going to give up,” Eward pointed out. “We are not going to give up until (they) are found.”

Bennett added that these investigations take time, which is not usually what family members want to hear.

“It’s not like these TV shows that you see, where at the blink of an eye, you get back forensic evidence or search warrants,” Bennett pointed out.

Sometimes, evidence does not come back from forensics for five to six months, law enforcement officials said.

The day that Amber went missing, law enforcement were able to trace her cell phone to the area of Highway 195, but she was not located in that area, investigators said.

Investigators discuss Flanagin’s case
“We don’t have any evidence of foul play in either (disappearance),” Eward first explained.

“Mr. Flanagin walked off. We don’t have any evidence that he was ever in any physical danger. We don’t have evidence of him having any issues with anybody prior to his disappearance,” he continued.

“We’ve had multiple sightings of him in the Black Pond area,” Eward added.

Law enforcement did find Flanagin’s cell phone, which appeared to have been run over by a vehicle and had water damage, in a wooded area at the end of County Road 8 in the Black Pond area.

“That phone has now been sent to Tuscaloosa PD crime lab, where they are reconstructing his phone because it was so damaged and apparently run over,” Bennett said.

“Like I said, stuff like that takes time,” he noted.

This finding led to a major search effort in that area on June 17, when Aniah’s Heart, a non-profit search organization started by the mother of a girl who died tragically after her disappearance, came to Winston County, along with the VET Dyrti organization, comprised of retired military personnel, to assist  local and area law enforcement in the search for Flanagin.
This major effort, involving grid searches in wooded areas near Smith Lake at the area of CR 8, did not yield any results.

Law enforcement have used drones to fly over areas, and cadaver dogs have been brought out in search for Flanagin, law enforcement said.

“Nothing has been found, other than Mr. Flanagin’s phone in the Black Pond area,” Bennett stressed.

At some point, search efforts will be expanded to include Smith Lake, since it was close to the area where Flanagin’s phone was found, Eward explained.

“The main thing we’re waiting on with Mr. Flanagin is his phone to be rescontructed,” he added.

Law enforcement, however, has followed leads on multiple sightings for Flanagin throughout the area and region, according to law enforcement.

“Every lead we get, no matter what it is, we follow it,” Eward stated.

“Our whole office has put a lot of man hours into both cases,” Eward further emphasized. “And we’ll continue to do so.”

Law enforcement is also monitoring Flanagin’s bank account, which has not shown any activity since his disappearance, Eward stated.

“It is frustrating from our aspect, and I know it’s frustrating to the public, and it’s frustrating to the family,” Eward continued. “I just want everyone to understand that we are working as hard as we can.”

Anyone who has seen either of these individuals or who may have more information on their whereabouts is urged to contact the Winston County Sheriff’s Office at (205) 489-2115 or call emergency 9-1-1.

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