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‘It’s her second birthday missing and she’s not here’: Jessica Dietzel’s mom wants answers to daughter’s disappearance

Dietzel’s disappearance still a ‘high-priority’ investigation for law enforcement
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 7:04 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Friday marked Jessica Dietzel’s 23rd birthday — another birthday passing by since the young mother went missing in February 2020.

WALB News 10 spoke to Kristina Johnson, Dietzel’s mother, about the strife she’s feeling at a time she’d normally watch her daughter blow out birthday candles.

Kristina Johnson, Jessica Dietzel's mom, reflects on her daughter's 23rd birthday. Dietzel is...
Kristina Johnson, Jessica Dietzel's mom, reflects on her daughter's 23rd birthday. Dietzel is still missing. (WALB)

“It’s her 23rd birthday. It’s her second birthday missing and she’s not here,” said Johnson.

Dietzel has been missing for over a year now. She didn’t have a cell phone of her own and used others’ phones frequently. She used social media to connect with friends and family.

Investigators last tracked her to the 5 Points Inn in Albany on February 18, 2020.

Johnson said time does the opposite of heal her pain.

“All I know is that the more time that goes by, the harder it is. Logic tells me that something happened that, of course, until I know, I can’t accept anything that she’s not here but she’s not here,” said Johnson.

She said not knowing has been the hardest thing to cope with.

“Just wanting to know what happened. So, that we can even, possibly, try to deal with the fact of her not ever being with us again,” said Johnson.

Where is law enforcement at with Jessica’s case?

Lee County investigators said they’re working further to identify DNA evidence found on a man’s property.

Investigators said they’re having discussions about sending the hair sample to the FBI, with a sample of hair from Johnson to compare the DNA.

Lee County law enforcement has identified Gary Potter as a person of interest in the Jessica...
Lee County law enforcement has identified Gary Potter as a person of interest in the Jessica Dietzel case. (WALB)

Lee County law enforcement said Gary Potter, a person of interest, denies knowing Dietzel. However, investigators said she logged into her Facebook account using his cell phone on a previous occasion.

“It’s just bewildering because if he took her somewhere and he didn’t do anything, didn’t harm her, just come forward with it. Just tell us. We need to know,” said Johnson.

Investigators said Potter isn’t cooperating with the investigation.

Johnson said her family, friends, and even strangers have been a huge support system.

Johnson asks that if anyone knows anything to speak up.

“If you seen her or if you heard somebody talk about her — anything — report it. If you think it’s just little, maybe it don’t matter, whatever it is, big, little — report it. It might be the little piece of the puzzle,” Johnson said.

Lee County Sheriff's Office Lt. Danny Alday is the lead investigator in the Jessica Dietzel case.
Lee County Sheriff's Office Lt. Danny Alday is the lead investigator in the Jessica Dietzel case.(WALB)

Lee County Sheriff’s Office said hours of hard work is being put into the investigation.

Lt. Danny Alday said if someone knows something and is afraid of coming forward, they can give them protection.

He said this is still a high-priority investigation for the sheriff’s office.

”Each day, we try to determine new leads for it. We go over information over and over again. We’re not going to stop, we’re not going to allow this to be a cold case. We’re not going to allow this investigation to stop until we find Jessica and what happened to her.” said Alday.

Alday said they started out getting tips multiple times a day, every day. Now, tips have slowed down to about one to two tips a week.

They want more.

Albany Police Department said they are at a standstill on the case.

Police Chief Michael Persley said this is a classic example of law enforcement needing the...
Police Chief Michael Persley said this is a classic example of law enforcement needing the community’s help. (WALB)

Police Chief Michael Persley said this is a classic example of law enforcement needing the community’s help.

Persley asked if you know something, come forward.

”I know somebody knows something and it’s people who know Jessica and who dealt with Jessica, but they’re not providing the information. It’s probably somebody who we’ve interviewed and they’re holding it. They need to think about Jessica and her family,” said Persley.

If you know anything that could help with this investigation, call the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at (229) 759-6012 or the Albany Police Department at (229) 431-2100.

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