According to witnesses passed on by a reliable source, Mr. Jackson fell off his tube and disappeared underwater. There was no "clinging to trees"
Body of Everette Jackson found in Gem County
By: Izaak Anderson, Idaho News 6
Posted at 5:59 PM, Jun 19, 2022 and last updated 2022-06-20 00:14:12-04
GEM COUNTY, Idaho — The body of Everette Jackson, the 21-year-old Louisiana man who went missing on the Payette River, has been found, according to a press release from the Gem County Sheriff's Office. Everette Jackson, 21, was found by a volunteer Sunday afternoon about two miles downstream in the Payette River from the area Jackson was last seen; Jackson was identified by his family.
The week-long search included volunteers and first responders. Gem County Sheriff Donnie Wunder said the search for Jackson's body was complicated by high water flow and dangerous conditions on the Payette River.
Jackson went missing on Saturday, June 11, after a witness reported seeing him fall from a tube, going underwater and not resurfacing on the Payette River in Emmett, Idaho, according to the Gem County Sheriff's Office. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this very difficult time,” Sheriff Wunder said. “We are grateful to all of the emergency responders and volunteers who made this recovery possible.”
Family members travel to Idaho to search for missing 21-year-old
By: Nicole Camarda, Idaho News 6
Posted Jun 14, 2022
EMMETT, Idaho — A man is still missing after falling out of his raft on the Payette River in Emmett Saturday near the Washington Street bridge, according to the Gem County Sheriff’s Department. The sheriff’s department has been out searching for 21-year-old Everette Jackson since around 8 p.m. His family, who traveled all the way from Louisiana, said he went tubing on the river with his girlfriend and was swept by a current after they missed their exit from the river.
Rafter missing on Payette River in Emmett, Gem County Sheriff's Office searching the area
By: Meredith Spelbring, Idaho News 6
Jun 13, 2022
A man is missing after falling out of his raft on the Payette River in Emmett. Gem County Sheriff's Office is searching for a man who is missing after falling from the raft on the Payette River west of the Washington Street bridge in Emmett around 8 p.m. June 11, according to a news release.
Family of the man identify him as 21-year-old Everette Jackson and say he went tubing on the river with his girlfriend and was swept by a current after they missed their exit from the river.
Everette Jackson (21) went tubing with friends yesterday in Bosie, Idaho. He & his gf missed their exit & paddled to the dock but the water was too strong. She grabbed a branch & tried to reach for him but he was knocked by the current. Officials are searching for him by jet ski and jet boat and ask people to stay clear of the river as they search.
"When rivers are higher, they’re faster and they are colder than normal,” said Sheriff Donnie Wunder in a statement. “Any river can be dangerous at any flow rate, but with all these conditions present, they pose significant risk."
Water levels on the river are currently flowing at a rate that could be dangerous to anyone on the river not on a motorized craft, according to the release.
Everette Jackson found passed away, clinging to a tree
Everette, 21, was lost not only in the Idaho river but a bureaucratic quagmire
Asra Q. Nomani
13 hr ago
Updated throughout with news of Everette Jackson’s body found. May his family and friends know solace. Questions remain. The sheriff’s office isn’t allowing an autopsy. “It isn’t necessary,” a deputy tells the family. They aren’t letting the family go to the spot where Everette’s body was found.
This Juneteenth, a cherished young man —Everette Jackson, 21, a son, an uncle, a brother, a friend — was found, passed away, clinging to a tree, after his loving, close-knit family from Louisiana walked the banks of the fast-moving Payette River in Emmett, Idaho, desperately searching for him. Everette was lost not only in the waters of the river, but also a tragic quagmire of bureaucracy, conflicting stories, rumors, a national media hard to find and mixed messages that should not be their burden to traverse.
This might have been a story of Mother Nature breaking the heart of Louisiana mother — Melanie Jackson, living in Raceland, La. — by claiming her son’s life but because of this past week of unnecessary frustrations, it’s also the story of a family that so struggled to find their beloved son of Louisiana they had to call in the United Cajun Navy.
“We love Everette. We want him home,” niece Breon Dennis, a nurse in an intensive care unit in Louisiana, told me on Saturday, reached by phone in Idaho, where she was walking the banks with her family, searching for Everette. Like a detective, she sent me a recording from a witness, videos and photos of a dock where Everette was last seen — clues that a family should not have to be gathering in their time of need, but of course did out of one pure emotion: love.
The Gem County Sheriff’s Department released a statement on Sunday, stating:
Jackson, a 21-year-old visitor from Raceland, Louisiana, went missing on Saturday, June 11, 2022, after a witness reported seeing Jackson fall from a tube, go underwater and not resurface near the Gem County Island Sports Complex in Emmett, Idaho. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this very difficult time,” Gem County Sheriff Donnie Wunder said. “We are grateful to all of the emergency responders and volunteers who made this recovery possible.”
On Sunday afternoon, a volunteer located the body approximately two miles downstream in the Payette River from the location where Jackson was last seen.
Everette Jackson was identified as the deceased by family. Sheriff Wunder reported, “the week-long search included first responders and volunteers and was complicated by high water flow and dangerous river conditions.”
United Cajun Navy goes to Idaho
From the moment he was reported missing, however, the efforts to find Everette by authorities were lacking. Desperate for help, the family even reached out to the United Cajun Navy, a force of volunteers who went to Idaho to help. Saturday, a United Cajun Navy leader gave the family an update. By Saturday night, they had found one of Everette’s missing Croc sandals, and “cadaver dogs” that can sniff human remains had stopped in one specific area.
“It’s 90% chance this is a recovery operation, not a search and rescue,” the United Cajun Navy leader said glumly.
An aunt of Everette’s wept, hearing the news. Back home, a mother prayed for good news of her son. Everette’s father died last fall from heart complications.
On Juneteenth, a new national holiday marking the end of slavery in the U.S., another current churned through this story that shouldn’t matter but alas added to the swirling emotions around this case: race.
Everette was black. He was a forward last year on the basketball team at Louisiana State University in Eunice, La. He was a 6’7” forward, nicknamed “Big Ev,” and No. 34. He went to Idaho to visit his girlfriend, Graci, who is white and the sophomore guard last year on the basketball team at College of Southern Idaho. She met Everette at a basketball game some months ago. She is No. 20 and 5’10” in her basketball profile.
After many days of frustration getting help, the family found it more effective to convey messages to the sheriff’s department, which is mostly white, through the leaders in the United Cajun Navy, who are white. It’s an observation like all things that is subtle but biting.
Right after his disappearance, Graci went on Instagram and posted a photo of Everette kissing her and a message that struck the family as odd because it assumed Everette had died, writing, “You will forever be in my heart.” She typed with the affection of young love: “Give me a sign you are okay my boo bear. Come back so we can get married hunny bunny.”
She later set her Instagram to private.
Observers noted the massive media blitz last year on travel blogger Gabby Petito when she went missing and the relative silence by the national media a week into Everette’s disappearance. Gabby was white and cute. Everette wore his hair in dreadlocks and regularly dyed them dramatic, eye-catching colors. On social media, as folks’ imaginations filled the void of unanswered questions, some compared this tragedy in Idaho to the storyline in the film “Get Out” of a young black man who visits his white girlfriend’s family and lands in a macabre trap.
What transcend is what connected Gabby and Everette: both were beloved by their family and friends. Reporting from northern Virginia, I only heard about this search because a mother, Jamie Marlbrough, from Louisiana called me Saturday morning to alert me that her son’s high school friend has been missing for a week with spotty help from Idaho authorities, and she’d heard during a grocery run to the local Rouses supermarket that the family needed more help—fast.
The Louisiana mother connected me with her son and his friends and stories poured in about Everette. I didn’t ask their racial identities because it didn’t matter, but I knew it was mixed. Young Jacob Marlborough said, “Everette inspired many, many people, not just in sports, but in life. He made people smile when they had a bad day and always brightened people’s moods cause that was who Everette was.”
Below is a timeline of what I was able to piece together. I will keep updating it as clues are found. You will see a family became their own sleuths and friends and strangers tried to help where authorities failed them.
This beloved Louisiana family went to Idaho to #FindEveretteJackson. They will now leave the banks of the Payette River to bring their beloved Everette home.
Asra Q. Nomani is a former reporter with the Wall Street Journal and a senior fellow in the practice of journalism at Independent Women’s Network @IWN. She is a senior contributor to the Federalist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @AsraNomani on Twitter.
Everette Jackson is last seen alive on the Payette River around 809 Sunset Drive.
Timeline trying to #FindEveretteJackson in Idaho
Wednesday, June 8, 2022 — Everette visits Idaho
LOUISIANA to IDAHO — On Wednesday, June 8, Everette flies to Idaho to meet Graci and her family. Her father is Kirby Kolka, 50, and mother is Traci Kolka.
Thursday, June 9, 2022 — Sleeping in
IDAHO — Everette and Graci wake up late to attend a 7 p.m. wedding, he later tells his older sister, Monette. Laughing, he says, “We slept in,” arriving about 7:30 p.m.
He tells his aunt later that at the door he is told he can’t enter because the wedding is Mormon and only open to Mormons. Through a number of iterations of the story, over the next week as rumor swirl, the story morphs into a rumor that Everette was turned away because he was black and Mormons oppose interracial marriage. The church used to have a ban on interracial relationships, but formally abandoned that teaching in recent decades. Allegations of racism still linger and keep this rumor alive.
But the family says that Everette was told that he couldn’t enter because he wasn’t Mormon, not because of his race. A family member tells me, “We would have sent him home,” if it had been about race.
Still, the inhospitality fuels rumors when Everette goes missing. It doesn’t help when the local sheriff’s office doesn’t help much with the search.
Graci stays with Everette outside the wedding, he tells his sister Monette. Graci sends Everette’s mother a happy photo of the couple together. They wear matching baby blue. Everette’s mother responds: “Absolutely beautiful!!!”
Graci answers with “Thank you” and a heart emoji, laughing emoji and emoji with hearts circulating around it.
Saturday, June 11, 2022
EMMETT, Idaho — The afternoon of Saturday, June 11, Everette, Graci and three of Graci’s friends travel to the Payette River in Emmett, Idaho, about 20 miles northwest of Boise, to go tubing, Graci later tells Everette’s family. According to another account she tells the family, as many as three carloads of friends — or about 15 people participated in the tubing trip. This leaves the family confused.
The friends enter the river and travel westward downstream.
Graci later tells Everett’s family, “We missed the exit.”
Not familiar with rafting, the family asks what “the exit” means. They learn “the exit” is a cutoff point where rafters can safely exit the river before the waters become too fast to navigate safely.
Apparently at 4:08 p.m., there is a phone call to 911 from one of Gracie’s friends, Jason. The family can’t get his last name. A week later, the local sheriff’s office has refused to release the 911 recording to the family despite numerous requests. The next week, the sheriff’s department even has them file a public records request. Nothing.
In Louisiana, Everette’s mother has missed calls. She doesn’t recognize the number.
She gets a text: We need to talk to you about Everette Jackson.
It’s the local sheriff’s office in Idaho. Nobody answers when she calls back.
His mother doesn’t get any calls from Graci.
At 6:56 p.m., Everette’s mother sends a message to Graci, but she doesn’t hear back.
Hey honey, is something wrong with Everette phone it’s not ringing would you tell him to call me please?
Everette’s older sister Monette calls Graci to find out what happened. She hears the first of several versions of a story of how Everette went missing in the waters.
The weather in Idaho is so bad the family can’t get a flight out of Louisiana.
The family hears several accounts from Graci over the next few days about what happened next, It could be nerves. It could be trauma. Whatever it is, it leaves the family confused.
The three accounts:
Account No. 1 — Graci grabbed onto a heavy tree branch that was hanging over river’s bank. She tried to give Everette a hand but he slipped away and she didn’t see him again.
Account No. 2 — As Everette and Graci were emerging out of the water, he stumbled and lost one of his black Croc sandals, dropping his phone into the river as he tried to retrieve his Croc, then falling into the river as he tried to get to his phone and disappearing into the water.
Account No. 3 — In this account, Everette and Graci were standing on a dock together before his Croc and phone fell into the water.
An Instagram post
On Sunday evening, June 11, at 6:45 p.m., Graci sends Everette’s mother a text that seems oddly final when Everette hasn’t yet been found:
“You and your family are in my thoughts. I have some pictures of Everette I would love to share with you. I just want to say thank you for allowing me to date your son. He was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I’m so sorry for what had [sic] happened. He treated me like a princess.”
Graci goes on Instagram and posts a photo of Everette kissing her, writing, “You will forever be in my heart.” She adds: “Give me a sign you are okay my boo bear. Come back so we can get married hunny bunny.”
This can all be the stuff of youth expressed but it is also difficult for a family who hasn’t found their lost son.
Graci later sets her Instagram to private.
A Facebook edit
Meanwhile, Graci’s father writes a Facebook post he edits and then deletes. He also makes his Twitter account private.
In his Facebook books, he first writes:
“Hey guys, my daughter and a couple of her friends were involved in a terrible floating accident on the Payette river. Her friend ,Everett Jackson , has been missing in the river since the accident on Saturday. His family is in Houston and would like to come up to help search for him. If you would consider donating to the Venmo account and sharing this post, we will see that all the money gets to his family to help with the travel costs and lodging. Thank you.”
He edits the post to delete friend and replace it with boyfriend:
“Her boyfriend , Everett Jackson ,”
It might just be a father not clear what is going on in the personal life of his daughter. But it becomes a point of notice on social media.
Monday, June 13, 2022 — Louisiana family in Idaho
Everette’s brother, Floyd, and sister, Monette, get on the first plane they can to Idaho. They will be staying at a local hotel. At 10:56 a.m., the family lands. Nobody greets them. They head to the Gem County Sports Island, near where Graci says she lost sight of Everette. At the river, they see nobody searching for Everette. There is no sign of the local sheriff’s office.
Later, about three car loads of people arrive with Graci and her mother and father. Graci introduces them as having been rafting on Saturday, confusing Everette’s brother and sister. Was it three others or 15 others there, they wonder? They can’t get a straight answer.
As word spreads back home of Everette’s disappearance, at 6:19 p.m., Monette asks Graci to call her. It’s been a fruitless search all day. She needs more clues.
At 6:51 p.m., Graci responds that she is seeing a counselor and her coach is in town until Thursday.
Graci says: “I can explain to you where I fell out. There is a lawn chair on the edge with a little irrigation canal right by it. It’s hard to miss.”
She corrects herself.
“I meant got out. Not fell out.”
Monette answers kindly:
“Okay, thank you, sweetheart. We will look for that. What color is the lawn chair.”
Monette and Floyd walk alone until about 9 p.m. They ask the sheriff’s office for the police report. They get nothing.
That day, Everette’s sister, Kenya Lyons, sets up a GoFundMe account to raise money for the search, under a simple category that reflected the moment: Emergencies. The first donation is for $5, with $20,495 raised a week later.
March 24th 2019
Back in Louisiana, at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, two of Everette’s sisters — Kenya Lyons, Nickki Lyons and Megan Jackson — and a niece — Breon Dennis — head to Idaho to join the family’s search for Everette.
Local TV station WDSU’s Eli Brand @EliBrandWDSU chronicles Everette’s family checking into Southwest Airlines to go to Idaho to find Everette.
Smiling gently, Everette’s sister, Megan, tells the local reporter, “Funny. Adventurous. He loved to play basketball. He loved basketball. He loved his family. Very family oriented. He gets along with everybody.”
Outside the terminal, a sign for Curbside Concierge behind her, Breon Dennis, Everette’s niece, a nurse in an intensive care unit, tells the reporter, “When somebody is connected to you, you’re going to look high and low for that person. We just think nobody can look better than we can.
Everette’s sister, Nickki Lyons, tells the local reporter, “It’s not easy. I never experienced anything like this here. All I want is my little brother. At any cost. I’m going. I just ask everybody just say their prayers. Send them my way.” Then, her voice cracking, she adds, “His name is Everette Jackson. He’s in Boise, Idaho, and we going to get him.
At some point, the sheriff’s department tells the family that a girl — who was white — had just fallen into the river and the sheriff’s department found her dead 30 minutes later. The family can’t help but wonder: how did the sheriff’s department go into the river to find the girl, but not Everette?
The sheriff’s department is saying it would endanger deputies to send out boats.
By now, Graci is getting hate for her Instagram post. It’s racial. There are references to the movie, “Get Out,” by director Jordan Peele, of a white family that locks up black people they trap in their home.
On the banks of the river, observers watch Graci’s parents slip off for long side conversations with the local sheriff’s department but then when Everette’s family arrives, the sheriff’s department officials have little to say.
It could be the sensitive of law enforcement for a victim’s family but it feeds a sense of outsiders and insiders in a rural community. At home, Everette’s mother, Melanie Jackson, prays, writing to her friends on Facebook, “God is able!”
Wednesday, June 15, 2022 — ‘Bring Everette Jackson Home’
EMMETT, Idaho — Everette’s family walks the banks of the river from morning until night.
His older sister, Meagan Jackson, speaks to a local KLFY TV reporter, Rodricka Taylor, back home, and, her voice cracking again, she says, “He’s never been without us, and I know he’s scared, and me as his older sister knowing he’s scared is hurting me, but I’m trying to keep strong for my mom. My biggest focus is finding my brother and bringing him back home to my mom safe.”
By now, the girlfriend, Graci, and her parents aren’t answering the family’s questions. Meagan tells the TV reporter: “It hurts so bad because she visited him, and we sent her back home safe to her family, and we couldn’t get the same favor in return,”
On Wednesday, June 15, at 4:49 p.m., the private Facebook, “Bring Everette Jackson Home,” had 11 members. It grew to 17,300 by the time of news of his death.
June 17th 2022
In Idaho, the family gently asks Chief Deputy Dave Timony for a copy of the police report. He directs them to his investigating officer, Lt. Jason McIntosh. McIntosh didn’t return a request for comment.
Late Sunday, the Gem County Sheriff breaks the news to the world. A volunteer — not anyone from the sheriff’s office — found Everette’s body. He was clinging to a branch. The sheriff’s deputy tells the family he wasn’t going to do an autopsy. “It wasn’t necessary,” he claims. The family asks to go to where Everette’s body was found. The sheriff’s deputy won’t take them there. Everette’s family is confused and grieving.
With them, friends — new and old — grieve with them.
Thanks to your reporting Asra on the circumstances of Everette's disappearance, the world beyond the US is aware of this tragedy. His family is deserving of maximum help, respect and answers to your questions from the Idaho Authorities and the Police, which appears thus far to have not been forthcoming. You, your family and your beautiful gifted son Everette are in our prayers here in Ireland, that God will bring him home safely to you and keep you strong through His grace while you are seeking the truth about what occurred to your much loved son and brother.