A Black mother in Jackson, Mississippi, is grieving after months of hope regarding her “missing” son was unimaginably crushed by the city’s police department.
Bettersten Wade is now sharing the tragic story of her child, Dexter Wade, 37. The heartbroken mother told NBC News that she filed a missing persons report for him March 14 — but it wasn’t until months of denial from authorities about his whereabouts that she learned the truth.
Less than 30 minutes after Dexter left the home he and his mother shared March 5, the 37-year-old father of two was struck by an off-duty corporal driving in a Jackson police SUV on Interstate 55. Dexter was reportedly less than a mile from his home when he died. His body suffered severe injuries. His autopsy ruled the death an accident.
In the following months, Bettersten claimed the Jackson Police Department gave her the runaround about her son’s whereabouts. The authorities allegedly skirted the truth despite their knowledge of Dexter’s whereabouts at least since March 9, when Hinds County Coroner’s Office Investigator LaGrand Elliott confirmed the 37-year-old’s identification and made the police aware. The matriarch’s inquiries about her son’s case made no progress even though she spoke with investigators and various police at the department. All the while, Dexter’s lifeless body lay in a county morgue unaccounted for.
Notably, Elliott had been the one who responded to the scene when Dexter died.
Bettersten couldn’t see her son’s grave — plot No. 672 in a pauper’s field — until an agonizing afternoon in early October. She was transported to the penal farm burial site at Hinds County Jail by a sheriff’s deputy and two inmates.
The mother had to pay the coroner’s office a $250 fee to claim her child’s remains. After that, she said she still had to wait weeks before seeing Dexter’s makeshift grave.
“They had me looking for him all that time, and they knew who he was,” the bereaved told NBC News. Meanwhile, Elliot claimed that he’d attempted to contact the justifiably angry woman days after Dexter’s death. The investigator’s notes over the months-long period following the highway crash documented his numerous calls to the police department regarding updates on whether kin was notified about Dexter’s passing.
Bettersten recalled that her mother advised her not to bother with the police when Dexter couldn’t be found.
The family’s heartbroken disillusion with the authorities personally stemmed from the passing of Bettersten’s brother, George Robinson, who died shortly after being slammed to the ground by a Jackson police officer in 2019. The 62-year-old was a recent stroke survivor when the violent police encounter occurred.
“My mama told me, ‘They’re not going to do anything,'” Bettersten said of her son’s case. “But I had to do something to find Dexter, and I thought that was the best way.”
“Maybe it was a vendetta. Maybe they buried my son to get back at me,” the mother theorized, referencing the wrongful death lawsuit filed against officers her family believed were responsible for George’s death.
Bettersten has various questions about the details of her son’s untimely passing.
She wonders how he even made it to Interstate 55 — a six-lane highway — by walking the distance he did in under 30 minutes. She wonders if someone picked him up and drove him there and why he was walking on the highway in the first place. The distraught mother wants answers on “what really happened” and feels like what she’s been told, “just doesn’t make any sense.”
She shared that Dexter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia sometime after 2017 and did two separate stints in prison for attempted auto theft and armed robbery.
The 37-year-old man’s toxicology report noted that he had PCP and methamphetamine in his body when he died.
The mother and son had fought that fateful March 5 night over a broken window at the house before Dexter left the residence with a friend.
A GoFundMe created Oct. 16 by the distraught mother to raise money for Dexter’s proper and dignified burial has reached less than $8,000 of its $100,000 goal.
The words of support shared by donors all sympathized over the devastating loss of Dexter’s life. The GoFundMe’s comments especially found the harrowing story of his last moments and posthumous treatment by the Jackson Police Department particularly disturbing and unimaginable. The top donation as of this report was $1,000.
“So sorry for your loss — this should have never happened. Rest easy Dexter — I’m sorry you had to endure this.”
“I’m a mother. I heard your story and my heart breaks with yours. Prayers for God to envelope you in His loving arms.”
“I’m sorry this happened, I hope your story reaches everyone. Sending love and prayers…”
Dexter leaves behind two daughters, Bettersten, friends and loved ones. In addition to being a doting father, he’s also remembered as someone who gave homemade ice pops to neighborhood children and fed the homeless when he could.
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