A woman accused of illegally taking her biological children out of foster care and hiding them in the deep woods of Douglas County has a preliminary hearing set for the end of August.
Jammie J. White, 39, appeared in court in Ozark briefly on Aug. 13. Associate Circuit Judge Doug Bacon gave White a preliminary hearing date of Aug. 27. 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.
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.
With an endangered person advisory from the Missouri State Highway Patrol out for the girls, ages 16 and 14, Douglas County deputies reportedly took White into the woods to find the kids 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,” Christian County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shana Mora said at a hearing July 2.
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 about a half hour’s drive from where the children were hiding.
In a preliminary hearing, Judge Bacon will decide whether or not probable cause has been established to proceed with trying White on each of her eight charges. If probable cause is found, the judge will bind the case over for trial. If probable cause is not found, a charge may be dropped. It is possible that some of White’s charges may be dropped while others proceed to trial.
White remains in the Christian County Jail, where Bacon ruled that she be held without bond at the July 2 hearing.
“There is no guarantee that the court can put in place that is going to keep these children safe,” Bacon said.
Hours prior to White’s arrest, the Christian County Prosecuting Attorney's Office filed eight criminal charges against White.
“Two of those felony (endangering the welfare of a child) 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.
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 romantically involved with 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.
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.
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.