Alabama Woman Sentenced in Kidnapping Case
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 18, 2014|
JACKSON, MS—Jessie Mae Brown Pollard, of Northport, Alabama, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court to serve a total of 25 years in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit kidnapping, kidnapping, and obstruction of justice, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen. She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,400. A jury found Pollard guilty of the charges after a November 2013 trial before U.S. District Judge William Barbour, Jr. in Jackson.
The proof at trial showed that Pollard decided to kidnap Jashayla Hopson from East Kemper Elementary School, so she contacted Wanda Faye Dancy, a secretary at East Kemper Elementary School, who agreed to assist with the kidnapping. On April 30, 2013, Pollard and co-defendant Shamarious Ruffin traveled to East Kemper Elementary School in a car rented by Pollard. Pollard called Wanda Faye Dancy to determine the location of Jashayla Hopson within the school building. Dancy said Jashayla was in the library and described the clothing she was wearing. Pollard told Ruffin to go into the library to get Hopson and to tell the librarian that “Miss Wanda said it was all right.” Ruffin went into the school library, gave the librarian Dancy’s message, and took Jashayla Hopson. Ruffin returned to the car with the child.
Thereafter, Jessie Mae Brown Pollard drove to Bessemer, Alabama, with Shamarious Ruffin and Jashayla Hopson, where they checked into a hotel. Later, Pollard went to a store in Bessemer and purchased a cell phone. She activated the phone and sent the following text message to Jashayla’s mother: “don’t call the police I will call you later if you call the police u won’t see her again.”
Meanwhile, Jessie Mae Brown Pollard’s son, Devonta Pollard, drove to Boligee, Alabama, picked up Shaquayla Johnigan, and took her to meet Jessie Mae Brown Pollard. Jessie Mae Brown Pollard then gave the child, Jashayla Hopson, to Johnigan, who took the rental car and traveled to Laurel, Mississippi, where she checked into a hotel room. Later, Jessie Mae Brown Pollard called Shaquayla Johnigan and told her to send a text message to Jashayla’s mother from the cell phone, which was still in the rental car, stating, “since you called police, I want $50,000 by 3 p.m., I will tell you location later.”
Shaquayla Johnigan then met Joyce Johnigan in Vossburg, Mississippi. Together, they drove Jashayla Hopson to a remote location near Enterprise, Mississippi, and dropped her off near an unknown residence, telling her that “her mom was in the trailer and to run up to it.”
Jessie Mae Pollard called Shaquayla Johnigan and told her to take the rental car to the USM campus and leave it, but instead she and Joyce Johnigan drove it into a ditch and threw the keys into a pond. Shaquayla Johnigan gave the black gym back containing the broken cell phone and other evidence to James Shurman Johnigan and told him to “get rid of it.” She also threw the key to the Laurel hotel room in the garbage. James Shurman Johnigan burned the black gym bag containing the broken Samsung phone.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Cirminal Division John Dowdy and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry Rushing.