One morning in April 2019, Jessica Alva, a young mother, was rushed to the hospital after what seemed like a suicide attempt. However, her family felt that wasn’t the case and believed she was a victim of foul play. Jessica’s story is featured in the second half of Investigation Discovery’s ‘Still a Mystery: Suspicious Circumstances.’ While the police ruled her eventual death a suicide, the family has continued to fight for an investigation into the case. So, let’s find out more about what happened then, shall we?
How Did Jessica Alva Die?
Jessica Nicole Alva was born in San Bernardino, California, in 1984. She was raised in an Army family as the third of four children, moving around frequently until they settled in Redding, California. As per the show, the 35-year-old had a complicated past because of domestic violence in the house. She eventually became a caring mother to six children and had been working on her addiction after taking part in a recovery program.
At the time of the incident, Jessica had been living in San Francisco, California, with her two youngest children and her boyfriend, Clayton Rhoades. He called 911 at around 6:30 am on April 2, 2019, to report that Jessica was unresponsive. She was rushed to the hospital after Clayton told police she attempted to kill herself by hanging. Ultimately, Jessica’s brain damage was too severe, and she passed away four days later. The authorities ruled her death a suicide.
Was Jessica Alva Killed?
As per the show, Jessica Alva had moved to San Francisco in 2015, hoping for a fresh start with two of her kids. She seemed to be doing well, mentoring others dealing with addiction, advocating for various causes, and discovering her Native American heritage. But as per the show, Jessica began to correspond with Clayton, a childhood friend. He was in prison and had a violent criminal history; Clayton was convicted of second-degree robbery and battery on a peace officer.
The show further stated that he had a history of domestic violence. After Clayton was released from prison, he moved in with Jessica and her two children. But things changed for the worse soon after. Jessica’s family stated that she wasn’t allowed to go out alone or call anyone without him being present. They believed that she was in an abusive relationship with Clayton. Then, on April 2, 2019, he called the police saying Jessica had tried to hang herself.
While Jessica was on life support at the local hospital, the family noticed several cuts and bruises on her body and some dried blood coming from her mouth. Loved ones also remembered Jessica calling her Godmother a few days prior, expressing concern for her children’s safety and saying she was scared of Clayton. When the police initially questioned Clayton, he provided a false name, and they failed to check his identification.
After a preliminary ruling of suicide, the family claimed that the authorities didn’t look into the case until Jessica’s mother posted about the issue on social media. Her loved ones and others hailing from the Native American community alleged that the police botched the investigation. Clayton and some others remained at Jessica’s apartment in the days that followed. When her family eventually had access to the house, Jessica’s brother said it smelled like bleach. As per the show, some jewelry and the kids’ social security cards were missing too.
Furthermore, on April 1, 2019, witnesses reported an incident of abuse between Clayton and Jessica. They were at a park with the kids when an angry Clayton was accused of hitting and dragging Jessica to an ATM nearby. On the show, it was mentioned that the police returned to the apartment later to look for a reddish brown leather strip that was never found; Jessica’s neck had reddish brown fibers around her neck. A similar strip was seen in police bodycam videos from when they initially visited the house on the day of the incident.
The authorities have maintained that the case is open but inactive. However, the family has continued to believe there was foul play. Clayton said in April 2019, “I have cooperated with law enforcement every time they interviewed me; I have told them what happened. I showed them everything; I have answered every question to the best of my abilities, and I have nothing to hide.” He was arrested in the same month for a parole violation but was released days later due to capacity issues. Clayton has never been charged with respect to Jessica’s death.
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