Adoptive Mother Arrested In Connection With 10-Year-Old Arizona Boy Found Dead

Crystal Wilson was taken into custody over six years after she claimed Jesse Wilson suddenly disappeared from home.

February 08, 2023
Jesse Wilson, 10, pictured here, was 10 years old when he disappeared from his Buckeye, Arizona home during the early-morning hours of July 18, 2016.

Crystal Wilson was taken into custody over six years after she claimed Jesse Wilson suddenly disappeared from home.

Photo by: Buckeye Police Department

Buckeye Police Department

By: Aaron Rasmussen

The adoptive mother of an Arizona boy found dead nearly two years after she said he vanished from home in the early morning hours was recently arrested in connection with the case.

On July 18, 2016, Crystal Wilson called the Buckeye Police Department's non-emergency number to report her 10-year-old son, Jesse Wilson, had gone missing from the family’s house, KNXV-TV reported.

Authorities and local residents launched a massive search for the boy and initially believed he was a runaway based on Crystal’s statements he had developmental issues and had snuck out the window of his second-floor bedroom on other occasions.

In March 2018, the boy’s skeletal remains were found on the side of a highway around six miles from the Wilson residence. No arrests were made in the case at the time and the medical examiner was unable to determine a cause and manner of death.

Almost five years later, in December 2022, Maricopa County Grand Jury indicted 54-year-old Crystal on charges of abandoning and concealing a body and she was taken into custody across the country in Gainesville, Georgia, where she had relocated, according to KNXV-TV.

Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall explained at a Dec. 13 news conference that investigators did not have sufficient evidence to charge Crystal with the child’s murder, but he noted she was always a “person of interest” in the case, KSAZ-TV reported.

“It's very difficult … when you don't have a body,” Hall said. “After we did locate him, that didn't provide any further information for us.”

According to KNXV-TV, charges were brought against Crystal after investigators allegedly were able to use GPS data to place her in the area where the child’s remains were found. Among other evidence, police also relied on past statements as well as DNA evidence collected from Crystal’s Jeep.

“She knows what happened,” Chief Hall claimed. “She's not telling us; the onus is on her.”

Crystal was expected to be extradited to Maricopa County in Arizona in March, according to court documents.

KNXV-TV reported that Jesse’s mother had died. His birth grandmother, Cynthia Lauderdale, said she loved her grandson “very much.”

“He stays with us every single day. We know that he's in Heaven with his mom," she said.

Speaking about Jesse’s adoptive mother, Crystal, Lauderdale added, “I did have my suspicions from the beginning. It's very hard, and even now it's hard, but I just keep going… He didn't deserve what was done to him.”

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