ASHEBORO — Kathy Gaines will lead a protest Friday to call attention to her efforts to convince authorities that her son’s death was not an accidental drowning, but a homicide.
The protest begins at 10 a.m. on Worth Street in front of the historic old courthouse.
Jesse Lee Maness, 24, from Bennett, was reported missing on Oct. 13, 2012, when he did not return from a night out with friends in Siler City. His body was found on Oct. 19, 2012, in a creek bed just inside Randolph County. He was last seen leaving a Siler City restaurant around 2 a.m. on Oct. 13.
According to the N.C. Highway Patrol investigation at the time, Maness’ 1995 Chevrolet Corsica ran off a bridge on N.C. 24/22 near Jimmy Cox Road just inside Randolph County.
Gaines said she does not understand how searchers did not see his car when they went through that area earlier in the week and why he was wearing different clothing when found than he had on when he left. “I know that my son did not lie there in that creek for six days,” Gaines said.
Gaines said she obtained a permit for a protest, but her intention is for a peaceful gathering to call attention to the grieving families of homicide victims.
“I am protesting against Randolph County and the District Attorney’s Office. They have refused to consider all the evidence in my son’s death,” Gaines said.
Gaines said she has never wanted anyone to be blamed; she just wants justice for her son.
“Justice for Jesse,” is her online blog and cry for a more thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
“So many parents have called me who have been through the same thing,” Gaines said. “If law enforcement can’t resolve these cases, at least leave them open for further investigation.”
Angela Staley did not know Kathy Gaines until she learned about Maness’ death on Gaines’ Facebook page and was touched by the mother’s grief because she has sons that age.
Staley is organizing a non-profit organization, Victims Only Initiative Coalition Effort — VOICE — to give families of victims an avenue to be heard. VOICE will be all volunteer and will accept no money, she said.
Staley will be at the protest on Friday. She has also led a petition drive to re-open the investigation into Maness’ death.
“Petitions are the voice of the people and officials answer to the people,” she said. “This is not to bash anybody, but just to give this family some answers.”
District Attorney Garland Yates said last week that he has asked the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation to review his office’s investigation and take responsibility for the case.
In an earlier statement, Randolph County Sheriff’s Office Det. Derrick Hill said the sheriff’s office had investigated the allegations Gaines had brought to them, but found no evidence to point to anything other than a tragic automobile accident.