Bettersten Wade had been searching for her missing adult son for seven months when she finally learned what happened to him. Just minutes after leaving home in March, 37-year-old Dexter Wade had been struck and killed by a police cruiser. Police didn’t inform any family members about Dexter Wade’s death, eventually burying him on the grounds of a penal farm.
On March 5, Dexter Wade left his mother’s home in Jackson, Mississippi, following an argument the two had over a broken window in the house. After not hearing from him for days, Bettersten Wade reported him missing to the local police.
Bettersten Wade told NBC News that she had been hesitant to call Jackson police after an officer killed her brother in 2019—an incident that resulted in the responsible officer being found guilty of manslaughter.
“My mama told me, ‘They’re not going to do anything,'” she told NBC. “But I had to do something to find Dexter, and I thought that was the best way.”
According to NBC, Bettersten Wade did everything she could to help find her son. “Bettersten said she kept in regular touch with police, asking for updates and requesting that they put his picture on TV,” wrote NBC’s Jon Schuppe. “She did her own search, checking out abandoned homes and driving around her neighborhood asking if anyone had seen him.” Despite repeated calls, police consistently told her they had no new information about her son.
But it turned out the police knew all along what had happened to Dexter Wade. He had been run over and killed by a police car, less than a mile from his mother’s home and less than an hour after leaving.
According to legal documents provided to NBC, an investigator was able to identify Bettersten Wade as Dexter Wade’s next of kin just three days after his death, on March 8. But the investigator only attempted to call her once—Bettersten Wade, for her own part, says she does not recall receiving a phone call from the investigator.
Jackson police were tasked with continuing to contact Bettersten Wade to properly notify her of her son’s death. They failed to do so. By the end of the month, NBC says that the coroner’s office had filed documents requesting to bury Dexter Wade on the grounds of a penal farm, as no one had come to claim his body.
Despite Bettersten Wade’s repeated attempts to find her son and frequent contact with police, she wasn’t informed of his death until a new investigator was assigned to his case.
“They had me looking for him all that time, and they knew who he was,” she told NBC.
While Bettersten Wade plans to have her son’s body removed and properly buried, the ordeal is still devastating. Dexter Wade left behind two young daughters.
“The hardest thing I ever had to do is tell my girls that their dad is never coming back,” the children’s mother told NBC. “I just want someone to answer for what happened. I want to know what really happened.”
According to NBC, Jackson police have not responded to questions about the circumstances of Dexter Wade’s killing or why they refused to inform Bettersten Wade about her son’s death. When contacted by Reason, the department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.