Missing in Sin City: The Disappearance of Jessica "Jessie" Foster
It was late 2006. As the plane began to descend and banked south toward Las Vegas, Glendene Grant sat in her assigned seat looking out the window. While approaching, she could see the city lights in the distance, and the vast darkness of the land surrounding one of the most famous cities in the world.
Las Vegas sits like a beacon of light on the floor of the Mojave Desert and is surrounded by mountain ranges on all sides. Though beautiful, the Mojave Desert is harsh and unforgiving, reaching temperatures of over 100 degrees in the summer months, and in Death Valley, only two hours away from Las Vegas, it reaches temperatures of 134 degrees. Likewise, the dangerous streets of Las Vegas can be equally merciless.
It is Glendene’s first trip to the city. The crowd on the plane is excited, most of them traveling to Vegas to gamble and drink in the glitz and glamour of Sin City. As the plane makes the final approach to the McCarran International Airport, Glendene thinks—where is Jesse? Where is my daughter out there?
All Glendene can remember is feeling trepidation on the plane as she entered a world that was unfamiliar to her.
Dwight Foster, Glendene’s ex-husband, flew into Vegas a few days after Glendene and reflects, “Everyone on the plane was going there to have fun and make lots of money,” said Dwight. “I’m sitting there and all I’m feeling is apprehension and dread, and hopelessness. Las Vegas represents a totally different headspace for me.”
Both parents arrived in Las Vegas to search for their missing daughter Jessica “Jessie” Foster, 21, who vanished in Las Vegas during the spring of 2006.
Jessica Edith Louise Foster was born May 27, 1984, and was from Kamloops, British Columbia, a small city in Canada, about 300 miles north of Seattle. She grew up the second of four girls and described as an “absolutely gorgeous and popular” teenager. She was full of love and life.
“She had these sayings. You know, things that would just make us crack up,” her father Dwight said. “It was just what she would say but how she would say it and that’s what I remember were the best of times.”
Jessie blossomed in the close-knit community she grew up in and went to school right across the street from her family’s home. Her mother describes her as well-behaved and responsible as a child. A beautiful all-Canadian girl, Jessie had a fun personality, was a great big sister and she was close to her family growing up.
At age 16, Jessie moved to Calgary to live with her father—who had separated from Glendene when their daughter was only a year and a half old. It was a blow to Glendene who realized, as Jessie grew up, she had less control over her daughter’s decisions.
Jessie Begins Traveling
In 2005, Jessie moved back to Kamloops but a few months later she left to visit the United States. In May, Jessie and her friend traveled to New York City, Atlantic City, and Miami.
According to Glendene, Jessie had called to tell her mother she had used some of her savings in her bank account to fly to Las Vegas. She said she planned to stay there with a few of her friends until her birthday on May 27.
Jessie insisted on staying there for her momentous 21st birthday but promised her mother she would return afterward. “It didn’t matter what I said, I couldn’t get her to come home any sooner,” Glendene told Dateline.
Her birthday came and went, then days, weeks and months with Jessie always making a new excuse why she could not return. On top of her parent’s concerns about their daughter staying in Vegas too long, Jessie was also an illegal alien and was only supposed to “visit” the United States.
“The next excuse she gave us was ‘Oh, I met a guy. Oh, I love him. Oh, I am going to live with him. Oh, he is wonderful. Oh, we are engaged! He’s everything,” Glendale said.
In November 2005, Jessie flew home to Kamloops to visit her family, but she complained she wanted to return to her life in Las Vegas. On Christmas Day, her family drove her to the airport, and she boarded the 2 p.m. flight back to Sin City.
That was the last time her family saw Jessie. “She walked through security,” Glendene said. “And we have never laid eyes on her since.”
The family did receive phone calls from Jessie—but only for a couple of months.
March 29, 2006, Jessie’s older sister Crystal talked to Jessie on the phone. That was the last time her family heard from her. Her cell phone has not been used and her bank account is untouched, along with her credit cards.
On April 9, Glendene finally reached Peter Todd who told her Jessie had left him early in April and he had not seen or heard from her since. Eleven days after her last phone call, Glendene made a missing person report with the North Las Vegas Police Department (NVLPD) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
According to NLVPD Detective Carey McCloud, police immediately drove out to see Peter Todd and questioned him. According to Dateline, Peter apparently told police that he had tried to make a missing person report a few days earlier.
When police entered Peter’s residence, he showed the officers that Jessie had removed all her clothes from the residence. However, Jessie had left her car and other personal belonging like makeup and toiletries which police found suspicious. Police saw no sign that a crime had occurred in the home and left.
Police later brought Peter in for an interview. According to Detective McCloud of NLVPD, Peter talked in circles, offering them few leads and made no incriminating statements.
“When you’re a detective and you interview people, you oftentimes might have a suspicion about this or that,” Tim Bedwell, former Public Information Officer for NLVPD told Las Vegas City Life. “The problem is, the law doesn’t allow you to use mere suspicion to arrest people, to get a search warrant and things like that. I’m certainly not prepared to sit here and say there aren’t things about this case that are suspicious, but we have to be cautious about what we say. The truth is we don’t know what happened to Jessie. We can’t even develop any sort of estimation.”
Jessie loved the hustle and bustle that makes up the Las Vegas life, she had also met someone special but what Glendene and Dwight did not know is Jessie also had a secret she hid from her parents.
In late April, Glendene and Dwight hired private investigator Mike Kirkman to investigate their daughter’s disappearance.
Kirkman discovered Jessie had been arrested several times for prostitution, using the name Jessie Taylor.
“It shocked me,” Glendene told City Life. “But then I got over the shock and realized it doesn’t really matter what Jessie was doing down there. She was missing and we needed to find her. I do not give a crap what anyone does for a living. They are still human. And I especially wasn’t going to judge one of my kids.”
Frustrated and consumed with worry, Jessie's parents were sure that police would surely thoroughly investigate the disappearance of their daughter.
“At this point in time, there are no open leads for me to follow,” Detective McCloud told Dateline. “If one does come in, it’ll come to me. Unfortunately, there are no news leads to follow up on, but I certainly would.”
Jessie’s descriptive information is registered with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) and her DNA has been entered into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
“Without a body, she absolutely could still be alive, “said McCloud.
With such little evidence in Jessie’s missing person case, the Canadian consulate, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Kamloops Police Department never got involved.
Glendene’s frustration with NLVPD is apparent and she says they were never prepared for an investigation like this. “And that’s where the case has been ever since,” Glendene told City Life. “The only people who have done any further investigation are Mike Kirkman and the family. It’s very frustrating.”
Was Jessie the Victim of Serial Killer Neal Falls?
A lead surfaced in Jessie’s case in 2015. Jessie is one of four women, whose abductions and deaths have been linked to serial killer Neal Falls. Jessie fits the profile.
Neal Falls, 45, is an Oregon man who was shot with his own gun by a sex worker in West Virginia and died on July 18, 2015. When police found him deceased, they also found a yellow note in his pocket that had a list of six women to include their names, ages, phone numbers, all whom he found on Backpage, police said. All six are living but police believe he intended to murder them.
In his vehicle police found a “kill kit” complete with handcuffs, knives, axes, a sledgehammer, shovels, bleach and other cleaning supplies, a gun, and a bulletproof vest.
Police in at least nine states are investigating possible links to Falls and the murders of women. Each of the victims was young, down on their luck, suffering from drug addiction or involved in the escort business or both. All four women murdered or missing in Las Vegas were working at prostitutes, according to police.
Lindsay Harris, 21, disappeared in May 2005. The Mercedes she was driving was found in the parking lot of the Excalibur and a PT Cruiser she had rented was found in the desert near her Henderson home. Leg parts identified as Harris’ were eventually found along an interstate near Springfield, Illinois.
Parts of 25-year-old Misty Saens’ body were found in 2003, wrapped in plastic and cloth near Red Rock National Conservation Area, in Nevada.
Jodi Brewer, 19, vanished in August 2003. Parts of her body were located along Interstate 15 in San Bernardino, California.
Jessie is the only one of the four women who has not been located. All went missing when Falls was believed to be residing in Las Vegas.
We know little about Falls who is believed to have had contact with or being investigated by police in at least 20 states.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, Falls worked as an unarmed guard for a third-party security firm at the Hoover Dam. He worked at the inspection site on the Arizona side of the dam and is believed to have been employed there from 2004 to 2008 before he was fired due to behavioral issues.
For Glendene, she does not want to believe her daughter was killed by a serial killer and believes the crowd Jessie hung around in Las Vegas may have killed her daughter or forced her into human trafficking.
If Jessie is dead and, in the Mojave, or if Jessie is dead and in a box along the highway, she is not resting in peace,” Glendene said. “We need to bring her home so she can.”
Life Without Jessie
Life for Jessie’s parents has never been the same since their precious daughter seemingly vanished off the face of the earth.
“You go through a period of deep, profound despair,” said her father. “You live with a lump in your throat and you feel like your chest is going to explode and you feel like you’re losing your grasp of reality. It affected me in ways I never thought possible.”
Both parents have been frustrated with NLVPD's response to their missing daughter’s case.
“The North Las Vegas Police Department doesn’t even exist in my mind. They have done absolutely nothing. They’ve done nothing but open a case file,” said Dwight.
Glendene has said her life has also changed but she will not give up the search for Jessie. She also will not give up on trying to save others. Glendene now works speaking out against human trafficking and the founder of M.A.T.H (Mothers Against Trafficking Humans). Her selfless work has educated thousands about the perils of human trafficking—and it also helps her cope.
“I get empowered by the name Jessie Foster, I do,” Glendene said. “It makes me feel like help is around the corner, people are being saved. It took one girl to go missing to save hundreds of women and girls and men from going missing or being led down the wrong path.”
© 2020 Kym L Pasqualini