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Real Name: Jesslyn Rich
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Frontera, California
Date: November 11, 1984
Details: Thirty-five-year-old divorced mother of two Jesslyn Rich was a security guard at Frontera Penitentiary in California, one of the largest penitentiaries for women in the United States, when she vanished in 1984. Some former employees believe that she may have been silenced because of what she knew about a prison drug ring run by other guards.
She was last seen at a country-western bar with friends on November 11, 1984. Her friend claimed that she had looked straight at the door with great fear, excused herself to the bathroom, and mysteriously vanished. Her family believed that she may have been kidnapped and murdered because she would have contacted her family and friends after being gone for a certain amount of time. Jesslyn's brother found several clues in her house that made her family suspect that she knew about the illegal activities, that she was receiving several threats by other guards, and may have been murdered because of that. The case went cold until three years after she vanished, when a prison inmate named Terry Lucas told prison guard Betty Thompson that she had been threatened by guards to keep quiet about what she knew. Terry turned up dead herself; her body ignored in her cell for three days. She had been brutally beaten and blades of grass were in her hair. Her death was ruled complications to diabetes.
Thompson was subjected to threats and intimidation after trying to get Terry's death to be investigated as a murder, and was told "what happened to Jesslyn Rich could happen to her." Following a threatening phone call to her home, Thompson received the same veiled threat from another prison official. After seven months of similar calls, Thompson was shot at from a moving car in June 1988. As the police at her home were taking a report, she got a phone call saying "next time, we won't miss." The resulting scandal covered several front page articles in the Orange County Register over insider accounts of drug-dealing and corruption. Betty and five other guards testified in State Senate hearings over the alleged offenses. When Unsolved Mysteries were taping their segment, prison officials declined to comment. A spokesman for the California Department of Officials claimed that there was no evidence for the incidents described. Jesslyn Rich remains missing and Terry Lucas' death remains unsolved.
Suspects: The Frontera Prison Guards who were suspected of being involved with the illegal activities are suspected in Jesslyn's disappearance and Terry Lucas' death.
Extra Notes: This segment originally ran on the November 4, 1992 episode.
Results: Unresolved. In 1992, Jesslyn's remains were reportedly identified. Police believe that Jesslyn was murdered, but her killer has not been caught. Surprisingly, Jesslyn's daughter, Leslie Grace, recently wrote on a forum that the remains supposedly identified as her mother's were not actually that of Jesslyn. Leslie claims that she gave police DNA that later confirmed that the remains were not Jesslyn Rich. Rich's case remains unsolved, but the Orange County Sheriff did locate a suspect that as part of a "deathbed confession" revealed he had killed Jesslyn. This person has not been identified and has since died, making it difficult to pursue more details.
- Jesslyn Rich at Unsolved.com
- Los Angeles Times article
- Justice for Jesslyn and Terri Facebook Group
- Jesslyn Rich at Find a Grave