Private investigator & Dateline expose shed new light on woman's - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Private investigator & Dateline expose shed new light on woman's disappearance

(Source: WAFF 48 News) (Source: WAFF 48 News)
Jennifer Marshell White (Source: Dawn Hendricks on Facebook) Jennifer Marshell White (Source: Dawn Hendricks on Facebook)
(Source: WAFF 48 News) (Source: WAFF 48 News)
Jennifer's family (Source: WAFF 48 News) Jennifer's family (Source: WAFF 48 News)
(Source: WAFF 48 News) (Source: WAFF 48 News)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

A Moulton woman's disappearance has her family growing more worried by the minute.

Jennifer Marshell White, 55, has been gone for more than three weeks.

As part of the ongoing search effort, Dawn Hendricks, a seasoned private investigator, has been working the case pro bono.

Hendricks was busy with her other caseload looking into a number of murders and she had final exams at UAB, but when she heard that White had vanished without a trace, she felt compelled to get involved.

“I felt like the family needed some help because I did not feel that every resource was being used to locate her. We're in day 23,” Hendricks said. “I really didn't have the time, but I kept hearing the stories and seeing posts about this case. For some reason, the story just wasn't adding up.”

A former Huntsville police officer and former Secret Service agent who worked foreign mission, Hendricks has been volunteering her time, offering her expertise and assistance to White’s family and local law enforcement. Now that the case has been profiled by Dateline NBC’s “Missing in America series,” some more tips are coming in.

“I've got areas based off of social media and after Dateline came out, I had information come in to check. There was a truck driver that had seen what he thinks could possibly have been the vehicle. I have people checking different areas that I think could be of concern,” Hendricks stated Tuesday at her office in Huntsville.

Jennifer Marshell White was last seen filling up her 2007 Chevy Tahoe at a gas station near her home. Jennifer's daughter, Allison Cross, revealed there were domestic problems between her mother and stepfather and says her mother suspected that he was having an affair. But the family doesn't know what, if anything, that has to do with her disappearance. They just want her back.

“We're here to keep this case alive, to get law enforcement to push forward, and to get answers as to where my mother is and to find my mother and bring her home. That's our only goal and that's all our family is trying to do,” Cross said.

Large areas, ravines and a lake have been searched and helicopters and drones have been used to look for White.

“What we do know is that's where she was last seen. The family told me there was a ping on her phone in the Double Springs area. People have been out and searched that area and I was out there over the weekend and we were unable to locate anything. I was also at Smith Lake over the weekend,” Hendricks said.

She's looking into what happened between the time Jennifer was caught on surveillance at a gas station, the Warrior Mountain Trading Post, near her home and then hours later, when she sent a series of vague texts to relatives before vanishing.

“There's a 12 hour time frame from when her family says they received text messages from when she was last seen on video. There's 12 hours no one can account for. It's going to be telling of what transpired during those 12 hours and what happened,” Hendricks explained.

Jennifer's daughter says family members are starting to wonder if she was the one who wrote the texts telling them not to worry about her because of the odd wording. They know she would never abandon her family, especially her grandchildren. They grow more worried with each passing minute.

Hendricks continues to push for clues as local and state authorities investigate the missing persons case.

“The longer that it goes, the likelihood of something being good at the end is typically not the answer that we wanted. But I don't give up hope. I do still believe that there's answers and I believe that somebody has them. I also believe that united, all of us working together, that we can find out what happened and get this case resolved,” she added. “The family needs to be interviewed. Cell phones need to be checked and we continue to search until we have used every resource available.”

She’s worked with Leland Chapman, son of Dog the Bounty Hunter, in the past on fugitive recovery and reached out to him about Jennifer’s disappearance.

“I've called him and got some advice from him and sent him a message to possibly help check some areas,” Hendricks said.

White works in risk management for Decatur Morgan Hospital. The president, Nat Richardson, issued a statement saying "Our thoughts and prayers are with Jennifer, her family and our community at this time."

Hendricks and family members continue sharing Jennifer’s picture and information on social media. Dateline also shared their article in the hope of getting her loved ones some answers.

“I haven't blamed anyone. I don't know that she didn't harm herself. I don't know that she didn't have a car accident. But we just need to check everything and make sure that nobody is missing anything,” Hendricks said. “This is someone's spouse. This is someone's daughter and mother. Everybody deserves their fair shot at being found and located. It's not time to pick sides. Locate her, and then we move on and figure out all the rest of it. We have to locate that Tahoe and we've got to locate her.”

Hendricks not yet talked with Jennifer's husband, Moulton City Councilman Brent White.

Her daughter has asked him to take part in interviews with media outlets, but he has declined. We have requested an interview with him and we're waiting to hear back. Dateline indicated they were unable to reach him for comment for their report, but added that “he has consistently shared and posted updates on his wife’s case on his Facebook page since her disappearance.”

In their article, Dateline reported that on April 8, Jennifer texted her daughters Allison and Emiley “Beth” Gilchrist asking if they could help her, saying she needed to move out of the house she shared with her husband. Her daughters said that she was packing up her belongings in a hurry.

Allison later discovered the gas station footage that showed Jennifer paying for gas around 1:40 p.m. It shows her in loungewear getting gas about a mile from her home. She was driving a black 2007 Chevy Tahoe with the license plate “42AT756.” It has an Auburn front tag. There’s also a pink bumper sticker that says “Salt Life.”

Neither of Jennifer’s daughters heard from her again until 1:17 a.m. the next morning. They received a group text from Jennifer, telling them she loved them and to take care of her grandchildren.

“She said she loved us and not to worry. That she was finally gonna have peace. And that was it,” Allison told Dateline.

They could not get back in touch with her after that and started searching the area, looking for her at local hotels to see if she had rented a room.

Police would later determine that the last cell tower ping from Jennifer’s phone was at 1:38 a.m. on April 9, 2018 in the Double Springs area, 20-25 miles away from her home in Moulton.

Her daughters then reported her missing. Ground searches have been done around Double Springs, which is in the wooded Bankhead National Forest. Smith Lake was searched this past weekend with sonar equipment.

The State Bureau of Investigation is now assisting with the case.

If you have any information on Jennifer’s whereabouts, please call the Moulton Police Department at (256) 974-3961. 

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