New Castle News

March 16, 2013

Mother talks about her daughter’s disappearance

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A woman whose daughter disappeared in January harbors a dread that life in the streets could have led to her demise.

Linda Whitesell said she last saw her daughter, Jessi Machell Brumley-Short, when she stayed with her for two nights at her Shenango Township home in January, then left again.

The 25-year-old brunette with brown eyes and short hair suffers from severe addiction to crack cocaine and heroin, and as a result has been known to engage in prostitution on the city’s South Side to support her habit, her mother said.

She also is prone to seizures from injuries she sustained from a past injury to the back of her neck and skull.

She doesn’t drive, and unless she gets rides from friends or strangers, she walks everywhere. Her mother believes she frequents the South Side and the project areas in town and has been known to stay at a motel that border’s Pulaski Township and Coitsville, Ohio.



HER DOWNFALL

Short and her mom moved to the Lawrence/Butler county area from Ohio when Short was a bubbly 19-year-old.

She became addicted to opiates about five years ago when she took up with a boyfriend who introduced her to the life of drugs, Whitesell explained.

Short has tried to kick her habit and has been on and off drugs, unsuccessfully, for the past five or six years, her mother said.

“She has tried to stay well.”

It’s not unusual for Short to disappear, sometimes for two weeks at a time, but in the past she has never stopped contact with her mother or other family members, her mother said.

This time, she has.

No other family or friends have heard from her, and Whitesell is becoming increasingly alarmed.

“She always checks in and calls me. She asks for a ride or to stay at my house or she asks for money,” Whitesell said, emphasizing that they have a good relationship and Short has confided many private matters to her.

“She can’t go without calling me.”



EYES AND EARS

Although she knows her daughter has fallen in with the wrong crowd, she gives her friends credit for jumping in to help by putting up “missing” fliers around town with Short’s picture, hoping she will contact someone or someone will hear of her whereabouts.

Whitesell grew worried after not hearing from Short two weeks after her last visit around Jan. 27.

She reported her missing to the police and the district attorney two weeks later, on Feb. 10. Then posters then went up all over town.

According to Whitesell, Short was last seen wearing a white, long-sleeved terry cloth blouse, blue jeans, gray work boots and a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt.

“No one has seen her anywhere,” Whitesell said. “It’s not like her at all. I think something has happened to Jessi. I’m trying very hard to be strong.”

It has been 1 1/2 months, and Whitesell is reaching out again to the police and the public through the newspaper, Facebook, posters and other avenues, to see if anyone, anywhere, has seen her Jessi.

She envisions different bad scenarios and hopes that despite her nagging fears, her daughter is safe somewhere.

Short has a strong faith and has written poems about her lifestyle, expressing that she faces death in the face every day, Whitesell said. She claims she has drawn her own strength from God to endure this.

“She came from a loving family and she’s a good girl,” her mother said. “I don’t want to go through the not-knowing. If she’s dead, let me get past it.”

“I’d hate to think her mother’s right,” Shenango Township police superintendent William Phillips, commented Thursday about the possibility of Short being dead.

“We’ll keep looking for her and hopefully something will come up,” he said.

Since Whitesell reported her missing, the Shenango police have had Short listed in the National Crime Information Center as a missing and wanted person. She also was entered into the state police intelligence unit.

“We’ve contacted everyone we can contact,” he continued, noting that he has interviewed all of her friends, family and associates — including family members in Ohio and Portersville.

“We keep going back to these people and talking to them,” but there are no clues.

The police also have checked the South Side and other areas, “and we haven’t found hide nor hair of her, which says to me she’s not around,” Phillips said.

Short has had run-ins with the law and is wanted on bench warrants in Lawrence and Butler counties for misdemeanor offenses. In Lawrence County she’s wanted primarily for drug violations, Phillips said.

As far as conducting a physical search, “I’d have no idea where to search,” because there are no clues about where she disappeared from, he said.

“This is a tough one, because we got it a couple weeks afterward. We’re already running two weeks behind. No one’s been able to pinpoint when she was last seen. We’ve just about exhausted everything we can,” Phillips said. “Unfortunately, with her lifestyle, she’s an at-risk person. All we can do is keep going back to her friends and check out any rumors we might hear.”

Anyone who sees or knows anything about Short is asked to contact the Shenango police immediately at (724) 654-2243.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)