A woman facing six felony charges in connection to a endangered person advisory and a law enforcement investigation that spanned three counties will remain in jail while her case moves through court.
Christian County Associate Circuit Judge Doug Bacon denied bond for Jammie J. White, 39, at a hearing July 2 in Ozark. White, who lives in the Oldfield area, is charged with six class D felony counts of endangering the welfare of a child and two class C misdemeanor counts of violating the state education requirement for a child.
“There is no guarantee that the court can put in place that is going to keep these children safe,” Bacon said.
At the bond hearing, Christian County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shana Mora argued that White displayed a “pattern and practice of placing her children in dangerous situations.”
White was arrested in Douglas County at approximately 6:30 p.m. June 25.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol issued an endangered persons advisory for the two girls, ages 16 and 14, at 11:18 p.m. June 24. The girls were reportedly taken by their non-custodial mother, White. The Hollister Police Department requested the advisory from the Highway Patrol.
Douglas County sheriff’s deputies shared a photo of White along with a surveillance photo that appears to be taken from a gas station. The image shows a woman standing next to a gold Chrysler Pacific minivan, matching the description of the vehicle described in the missing person’s advisory. Douglas County deputies shared the images on social media sites at approximately 3 p.m., and included some information about White being spotted in western Douglas County.
White was taken into custody later that evening.
Defense attorney Brad Hughes said that White was working to secure a job in Ozark, and that she would be willing to be placed on GPS monitoring if she could live with her boyfriend and work while awaiting trial.
“She just had a son pass away, and then the girls were taken into care right around the same time. So, Judge, while that’s no excuse, she’s had a lot of emotional trauma going on around the same point in time while she’s working on getting a job again,” Hughes said.
MEET UP UNCLEAR
Hours prior to White’s arrest on June 25, the Christian County Prosecuting Attorney's Office filed eight criminal charges against White.
“Two of those felony offenses are for a dirty camper that the children were living in in April,” Mora said.
White was questioned on April 30 by Christian County deputies in relation to reports that she allowed a babysitter suspected of sexual assault to watch her kids. That questioning led to two of her endangering the welfare of a child charges. Two more endangering the welfare of a child charges are the result of “the defendant abandoning her children for over 32 hours.”
Mora said that the misdemeanor charges are because White allegedly did not make her children attend school from January 2019 to April 2019, while they were in her custody.
The children reportedly lived in a foster home in or around Hollister from April 16-June 24.
It’s unclear how the children ended up going from a foster home in Hollister to a wooded area in western Douglas County, a distance somewhere between 40 and 50 miles.
White allegedly told sheriff’s deputies that she happened upon her daughters walking along State Route T.
“Based on further information, it’s alleged that (White) somehow came across the girls on T highway and that she took them into her custody, and took them to a heavily wooded area in Douglas County,” Mora said. “She had no right to keep those girls. The only thing she could have done was alert the authorities, and she did not do so.”
Hughes denied his client having contact with the girls prior to their disappearance from Hollister, aside from one short phone call. White denied planning anything.
“She was actually in my office prior to coming into contact with them. We had a very frank and honest, and I guess somewhat heated conversation as well, just me explaining to her that if she did know where they were, that we needed to know. She denied any knowledge of where they were,” Hughes said.
Douglas County deputies obtained surveillance images from a convenience store called the Feed Bag on State Route T.
“She should have alerted authorities at that time. I think it initially caught her off guard when she did come in contact with the children,” Hughes said.
“That is the story that is given, but that is not what authorities believe,” Mora said.
Douglas County deputies reportedly took White into the woods to find her girls on June 25. They drove into a wooded area for about 20 minutes. White allegedly yelled for the children to come out. Deputies found that the girls were hiding in the woods with a small amount of food and a rubber raft.
“The deputies would testify that there was no water, there was no cell phone, that the only things found with the girls was some snacks and a raft. At that point, the girls were taken into custody,” Mora said.
The prosecuting attorney said that White left the girls in the woods and went to her boyfriend’s house in Goodhope, an unincorporated area in Douglas County.
“The location was about 30 minutes—31 minutes away from the defendant’s paramour’s location where (White) was found and arrested,” Mora said. “She also stated that she left them in the woods and went back to the residence where she was staying with her paramour and left her children out in the woods.”
That, combined with White allegedly removing the battery from her cell phone in an effort to make the phone more difficult to track and triangulate, played into Judge Bacon’s decision not to allow White to bond out of jail.
“She’s had a chance to comply with the orders that have been issued in this case, both in juvenile court and in this court—or previous courts,” Bacon said. “She’s proven that she’s not going to comply with those orders.”
Douglas County deputies were in the courtroom in Ozark prepared to testify, but they were not called. Bacon made his ruling after about 20 minutes of arguments from the attorneys.
“I’m going to find by clear and convincing evidence there is no bond that will ensure the safety of the community, because of the defendant’s previous actions in hiding the children from authorities,” Bacon said.
PAST MURDER CASE BROUGHT UP
Mora also brought up past convictions and charges White faced at the bond hearing.
White is currently on probation for a 2017 conviction of possession of a controlled substance. In 2016, she was charged with murder in Douglas County, but was later acquitted.
A Douglas County jury found Cory Walker, then 29, not guilty of first degree murder in the death of 37-year-old Robert Koch. White was dating both men at the time the stabbing occurred. Two of her children were in Koch’s car and witnessed the altercation that resulted in Koch’s death.
“At the time that one of her paramours was stabbing—violently stabbing and killing another paramour of hers, she stood and stayed in a bathroom until she heard one of her children screaming,” Mora said.
One of White’s children described attempting to perform CPR on Koch to law enforcement agents, and unsuccessfully attempting to revive him. The child was 12 at the time.
Hughes argued that White did not know her children would be present for the stabbing.
Mora alleged in court that White had a history of taking children from foster care.
“Back in 2004, (White) was reported to have abducted her son while he was in a foster home in the state of California. Authorities were finally able to locate the defendant and her son 10 years later in Douglas County, Missouri,” Mora said.
Missouri law specifies five different ways that a person may commit the crime of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree. To be convicted, a person must be proven to have, “act(ed) in a manner that creates a substantial risk to the life, body or health of a child less than 17 years old.” The law also specifies some provisions for sex-related and drug-related offenses, which will not be applied in the White case.
Christian County prosecutors are seeking class D felony convictions on all six of White’s endangering the welfare of a child charges. Missouri law states that a class D felony is punishable by up to four years in prison or one year in county jail. A person convicted of a class D felony may also be fined up to $10,000.
White also applied for representation from the Missouri State Public Defender System. Hughes, an attorney for Martin and Wall in Ozark, told the judge that his appearance was limited to the bond hearing.