Social media garners stunning tip in man’s 1994 disappearance

Justice Files

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Two years ago a private investigator started looking into the disappearance of Jack Jason Simmons.  The family appreciates the help in finding answers but what the investigator found may turn this into an unsolved murder.

“He ironically came up with somebody that told him where my little brother was probably buried at,” said Simmons.

And that leads to cadaver dogs searching for signs of a decomposed body. The private investigator teams with an independent search and rescue group and begin looking.

In 1994, Jack Jason Simmons whose street name is “Red” disappears and there’s been little effort to find him.

“As far as people knew he was MIA based on his history of drug use at the time.  They just assumed he was off the grid somewhere, maybe trying to lay low from the law,” said Jason Jensen, private investigator.

In April 1994, Simmons faces drug possession charges but fails to show for court and a warrant out for his arrest. And when his father learns his son’s assaulted with a hammer and hospitalized there’s concern about his disappearance.

“Somebody assaulted him a week before that with a hammer, so he’s been in the hospital. I guess he didn’t know who he was for a couple of weeks.”

“So one might speculate that they’re connected.”

Two years ago, the private investigator takes on the case and sends various messages to people who may remember the case. He bypasses traditional methods like passing out flyers or listing it on a billboard which he says can sometimes take years.

“So, I thought this was a perfect test subject to test my theory using Facebook marking tools as an investigative tool to see if we can generate some leads,” said Jensen. “We can target demographics, like if we just want women… if we wanted a certain age group.”

And within 72 hours, Jensen has several responses, but one post gets his attention.

“This individual had information that Jason had been murdered execution style near a campground in Box Elder Canyon,” said Jensen.

And that leads Jensen to a campground near Mantua where twice cadaver dogs pick up a human scent.  

“We feel confident that human remains would be tested in that location.”

But he also understands there may not be much there.

 “It’s at a base of a tree where a creek runs through it. We’re really strongly believing that tissue deposits that decomposed there and a dig there would be unlikely,” said Jensen.

Jensen sends the tip to authorities. But several weeks pass by before law enforcement arrives and they find the area underwater. He now learns that Simmons is murdered upstream where they will do a new search. All this new information makes Simmons’ brother realize “Red’s” gone.

But he still wants closure.

“The only justice that can be done in this case is for my little brother to be buried properly,” said Simmons.

Jensen said he’ll organize another search using cadaver dogs in hopes of finding the burial site up hill.  If the dog’s find a scent, he’ll contact authorities again. But he says all this is made possible because of social media.

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Marcos Ortiz
Emmy award winning journalist and producer, reporter of the Justice Files seen nightly on ABC4, begining his career in Blythe California with stops in Green River and Cheyenne Wyoming. He was hired to be KGGM’S political reporter in Santa Fe, New Mexico before arriving in Salt Lake City in 1992 as a general assignments reporter before moving into the crime beat.

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