Missing mother Jessica Dietzel turns 22, as leads fizzle after 5 months

Missing mother Jessica Dietzel turns 22 as leads empty out 5 months into case

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Albany police addressed allegations that they are not taking Jessica Dietzel’s missing person case serious enough.

Leesburg mother Jessica Dietzel, who turned 22 Thursday, was reported missing around five months ago.

She was last seen in Albany, and Albany Police, Dougherty County Sheriff, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office are investigating her disappearance.

They directed all comments on the case to Albany Police and Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Albany’s Police Chief Michael Persley said “Don’t think that we’ve given up.”

None of the few leads police had ever panned out, and Jessica's whereabouts are a mystery to this day, but APD says they haven't given up. Call Crimestoppers at 436-TIPS if you know anything. You could earn a reward...
None of the few leads police had ever panned out, and Jessica's whereabouts are a mystery to this day, but APD says they haven't given up. Call Crimestoppers at 436-TIPS if you know anything. You could earn a reward... (Source: WALB)

Jessica has faced substance abuse problems in the past, according to family members, who accused APD of viewing Jessica as an addict on the run, and not taking her case seriously enough.

Chief Persley isn’t buying it: “I would say that those allegations are untrue. It doesn’t matter about your past with us. If anything, we wan to know about your past. We want to know about any information that you may have so that it can help lead us to Jessica.”

Persley said APD is doing everything possible and legal to find Jessica.

“I don’t want the family to feel that way. I hate that they feel that way, but every lead that they’ve given us we’ve exhausted. Ms. Jessica, her disappearance, is just as important as any other disappearance.” said Persley.

Chief Michael Persley
Chief Michael Persley (Source: WALB)

He said it’s possible that people APD have already questioned in the case, could be in the hot seat again for additional questioning about Jessica’s disappearance.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office told us they get information regularly but nothing credible.

A member of their Special Victims Unit told us “we would be eternally grateful for one honest tip.”

Persley said right now APD receives very few tips and gets limited information on the case.

Mark Vanzant is one of four of Jessica’s siblings, and still holds out hope.

Mother and son, Kristina Johnson and Mark Vanzant
Mother and son, Kristina Johnson and Mark Vanzant (Source: WALB)

He said “today is her birthday and I just wan to wish her Happy Birthday, that’s all.”

Mark and Jessica are only a year and a few days apart, and like so many birthdays he was hoping to celebrate this one with his big sister, but instead he prays for answers.

“I sat down and prayed. I prayed. I asked God for a sign” said Mark.

Celebrating their birthdays together was a tradition he never thought would be broken.

He said “It ain’t easy” being apart on their birthdays.

As Mark turns 21 and Jessica turns 22, he looks forward with their mom Kristina by his side and hope in his heart.

“I’ll never lose hope. You gotta keep the faith. Always have your faith in God.”

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