Jaliek Rainwalker: What Happened to Her? Is She Still Missing?

12-year-old Jaliek Rainwater visited his adoptive grandparents’ house for a night in 2007, but the next morning he was not in the bed or anywhere around the residence. His sudden disappearance obviously concerned them, driving them to immediately report him missing that morning. A detailed account of this entire case is covered in the episode titled ‘Missing: Jaliek Rainwalker’ of the ‘Crime Junkie’ podcast. It also talks about the investigation and search that was led by the authorities to get to the bottom of the truth and find out what really happened to Jaliek.

Jaliek Rainwalker Went Missing From His Adoptive Grandparents’ House

As soon as Jaliek Rainwalker was born on August 2, 1995, he was placed in foster care at 2 days old because his mother was struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Having a rough start to life and being born addicted to crack, Jaliek lived with six different foster families, allegedly due to his developmental and behavioral issues. Diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, he had a hard time forming connections with his caregivers and foster parents. At times, the disorder reportedly even resulted in violent outbursts, which was a bit too much to handle for most of the latter. Reports even suggest that he was sexually abused as an infant. But then, at the age of 7, he was adopted by a Washington County couple Jocelyn McDonald and Stephen Kerr in 2002, and officially in 2004.

Image Credit: Never Seen Again

Things started to get out of hand in late October 2007, when Jaliek threatened to sexually assault a younger boy, with whom he was being homeschooled. Stephen immediately reached out to a crisis line with Family Services, and inquired about the process of reversing the adoption process of Jaliek. While they could not reverse it, they could get a break from Jaliek through respite care. The following day, Jaliek was transferred to the care of licensed foster parents Elaine and Tom Person, with whom he had lived before. On November 1, 2007, Stephen picked up Jaliek from the Persons and drove to his parents’ house for the night, located on Hill Street in Greenwich, so that he could re-enter Jaliek in respite care. Jaliek was supposed to stay with his adoptive parents for a single night before he could re-enter respite care.

Upon reaching the Greenwich house, Stephen told Jaliek to go to bed around 9 pm that night, as per Stephen’s claims. The following morning around 7 am, Stephen allegedly saw Jaliek in his bed but around half an hour later, when he checked on him again, he found out that his bed was just stuffed with items to make it appear that he was in bed. But the truth was that Jaliek had gone. Stephen then found a note from him on the kitchen table that said, “Dear everybody, I’m sorry for everything. I won’t be a bother anymore. Goodbye, Jaliek.” This note was later said to have been written by Jaliek as a part of an assignment on the command of Stephen himself, sometime before his disappearance.

Soon, Stephen called the authorities and reported his adopted son missing, informing them that he was wearing a bright yellow pullover at the time of his disappearance. A couple of days after Jaliek was reported missing, the police launched a ground and aerial search on November 4, 2007. They even deployed K9 units and helicopters to thoroughly search the woods around Greenwich. When Stephen was asked to take a polygraph test on November 6, 2007, he suspiciously refused to do so. But his wife, Jocelyn agreed to take the test while answering questions about Jaliek’s disappearance.

By mid-January 2008, Stephen was named a suspect by the authorities, who found surveillance footage that placed him driving a gold van around 12 am on November 2, while he claimed that he was in the house with Jaliek the entire night. These suspicions against Stephen gained more substance in March 2008, when his phone records hinted towards more inconsistencies in his story. After the case had gone cold for a while, some intriguing development was made in July 2008 when Barbara Reeley, Jaliek’s adoptive grandmother broke into Stephen and Jocelyn’s residence. While searching for clues, she came across the yellow fleece jacket that Jaliek was wearing the last time anyone ever saw him. Unfortunately, despite that evidence, the investigation hit a wall.

Jaliek Rainwalker Remains Missing But His Adoptive Grandmother is Still Hopeful

When several years of investigation didn’t lead anywhere, the police treated Jaliek’s case as a possible homicide, from December 2012. Over the years, the detectives received a number of tips from anonymous sources, but it didn’t yield the results they hoped for. In 2017, Stephen was still a person of interest related to the case, but his lawyer claimed that Stephen and Jocelyn were waiting for him to come home unharmed someday.

Image Credit: Never Seen Again

To extend the search for Jaliek, a Facebook public group Justice for Jaliek Rainwalker was created in October 2020. Alongside this group, another social media group Jaliek’s Army, held a virtual 5k fundraiser for a scholarship fund in the missing boy’s name between late July and early August 2021. In June 2022, the investigators received a tip that had them search the wooded area around the South Troy Dodgers baseball fields on Thompson Road. Even after spending six hours looking for clues that might lead them to Jaliek, it turned out to be in vain. However, Barbara, Jaliek’s adoptive grandmother found the tip and search quite surprising.

Barbara told CBS6 Albany, “I believe on November first when Stephen and Jaliek left the Red Robin that Stephen’s cell phone pinged off South Troy–off the tower–and there is always that possibility that Stephen had been there with Jaliek that evening.” By the end of June 2022, the police announced that they had searched South Troy, especially the wooded area off Springwood Manor near the South Troy Dodgers Baseball Fields. Still hopeful that the detectives would get to the bottom of the truth, Barbara told News 10, “Hopefully finding him will give some resolution. At least we know where he is or was and maybe we can find out what happened to him and we can put him to rest.” As of today, the case of Jaliek Rainwalker remains active despite him having been missing and presumed dead for over a decade, but Barbara os still hoping for his safe return.

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