Death of woman whose body was found blocks from New Orleans home last August still a mystery

Jessica Easterly Durning and her sister, Audrey Gutierrez, spent hours at the telephone with every different – speaking, gazing truth TV. When their schedules were given annoying, they swapped lengthy Fb messages from side to side that most commonly incorporated track lyrics or hashtags with tough phrases or words to boost every different up.

The sisters, who grew up most commonly in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, now lived in numerous states, Jessica in New Orleans, Louisiana and Audrey in Biloxi, Mississippi – in order that they trusted their widespread telephone calls.

“Shall we communicate for hours about anything else,” Audrey instructed Dateline. “She was once so happy-go-lucky. Like, if you happen to had been feeling down, you should communicate to her and she or he would select you up.”

Audrey, in conjunction with Jessica’s perfect buddy, Maria Creel, each instructed Dateline the ones lengthy calls with Jessica are what they omit probably the most.

It was once Maria who Jessica frantically referred to as simply two days ahead of she disappeared in August of 2019.

Maria instructed Dateline she was once at house in Alabama on August 12 when she overlooked a decision from Jessica. After which a 2d name. And a 3rd name.

When the 2 in any case hooked up a couple of mins later, Jessica requested Maria to return select her up on the area she shared together with her husband and her stepdaughter, in New Orleans.

“She didn’t cross into specifics, simplest that she had to depart,” Maria stated. “But it surely was once a 2-hour pressure and I didn’t have someone to select up my youngsters from faculty. So we began creating a plan for me to select her up the following morning.”

Maria added that she spoke to Jessica at the telephone once more later that day and she or he appeared higher. Calmer.

“It appeared like she was once backtracking,” Maria stated. So their plan for Maria to select her up was once placed on dangle.

Two days later, Maria hadn’t heard anything else from Jessica, which she stated was once odd.

It was once about nine p.m. on August 14, Maria stated, when she were given a message from Jessica’s Fb account. It was once Jessica’s husband, Justin Durning.

He requested, “Is Jess with you, Grace and I are apprehensive????” Grace is Justin’s daughter and Jessica’s stepdaughter.

“Once I learn that message, my complete frame went chilly,” Maria instructed Dateline. “I knew proper then one thing horrible had came about.”

In a flurry of frantic messages, Jessica’s husband instructed Maria that he remaining spoke to her round midday that day and that she had left the whole thing at the back of, together with her mobile phone, automotive keys, cash and her ID.

Maria instructed Dateline she referred to as the New Orleans Police Division to accomplish a welfare take a look at at Jessica’s area on Basic Haig Side road. That night time, Jessica’s husband filed a lacking individuals document.

However Jessica’s 43rd birthday on August 17 got here and nonetheless there was once no hint of her.

“I’ve at all times talked to her on her birthday, I’ve at all times referred to as her,” Jessica’s sister Audrey stated tearfully. “And that 12 months I referred to as her. And I didn’t get a solution. Idea perhaps she was once simply out. However I must’ve identified one thing was once fallacious. And I didn’t… I simply didn’t assume this might ever occur.”

On August 22, every week after Jessica was once remaining noticed, Audrey, their different sister, Amanda, and their cousin, traveled to New Orleans to talk with detectives on the New Orleans Police Division. However first they made up our minds to habits their very own seek in Jessica’s community.

Audrey stated they had been using when a nasty scent brought on them to get out of the auto and seek on foot. It was once Audrey who made the horrific discovery.

Alongside the tree line of a wooded house of Town Park close to the intersection of Orleans Road and Kenilworth Side road, about two blocks from Jessica’s house, was once a frame clad in a black tank best, black shorts and black sneakers.

“I used to be devastated,” Audrey instructed Dateline. “I knew instantly it was once her. I couldn’t imagine this was once taking place.”

Audrey referred to as the police and an investigation was once introduced.

However it might be 3 months ahead of the frame was once known. On November eight, 2019, the frame was once undoubtedly known as Jessica Easterly Durning, in step with the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Place of work.

Jessica’s circle of relatives instructed Dateline they imagine foul play was once all in favour of her dying and that her frame was once positioned the place she was once discovered.

Gary S. Scheets, a spokesperson for the New Orleans Police Division instructed Dateline this week that the case stays open and energetic and is being investigated through the third District detectives.

“This factor don’t have taken this lengthy because it has had she no longer laid within the New Orleans solar for every week and a part ahead of her frame was once discovered,” Jessica’s stepfather Rick Schmitt, of Summerdale, Alabama, instructed WDSU after receiving the effects. “That’s what made the post-mortem to tough… The truth that she was once there, the whole thing issues to she was once dumped there; she didn’t die there.”

Rick Schmitt added that his stepdaughter was once a “just right lady” who made shut buddies that she saved for existence.

“She shouldn’t be useless at this time,” he stated, with tears on his cheeks.

Two extra months handed ahead of Jessica’s circle of relatives won her post-mortem document on January 15, 2020.

In line with Orleans Parish Coroner’s Place of work Spokesman Jason Melancon, the post-mortem discovered proof that Jessica sustained a nostril damage in addition to a “a small linear fracture” to her jaw across the time she died. On the other hand, within the document signed January eight, the pathologist didn’t deal with how those accidents may were sustained.

The Coroner’s Place of work categorized each the purpose and means of Jessica’s dying as undetermined.

In an electronic mail to Dateline, NOPD Spokesperson Gary S. Scheets stated Jessica’s case “stays an unclassified dying” and “ isn’t these days categorized as a murder.” He added that the investigation stays open and energetic.

This month marked a 12 months since Jessica’s frame was once discovered, and her friends and family are nonetheless left with many unanswered questions.

Maria, who has been buddies with Jessica for no less than 20 years, instructed Dateline their telephone calls stuffed a spot in her middle this is now empty.

“I nonetheless can’t imagine she’s long past,” Maria stated. “It’s been a 12 months, however that doesn’t imply we’re giving up on her. We’re by no means backing down – and we will be able to get justice for Jessica. It’s what she merits.”

Jessica’s family and friends proceed to rally for justice for Jessica, who they described as an outgoing, amusing and wonderful one that may just at all times put a grin in your face.

Her sister, Audrey, maintains a web page devoted to the case and has saved their love of hashtags going with an important considered one of all — #Justice4Jessica.

“She was once the sort of gorgeous individual,” Audrey stated. “I’ve by no means met someone that’s had anything else unhealthy to mention about Jessica. She was once a just right buddy. She was once a really perfect sister. I will be able to’t imagine she’s long past.”

Any person with knowledge is requested to touch the 3rd District at 504-658-6030 or name Crime Stoppers anonymously at 504-822-1111 and toll-free at 1-877-903-7867.

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