The boyfriend of an Illinois mother of six whose skeletal remains were found last week has been charged with her murder, PEOPLE magazine reported.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, a Gary city worker found a skull in a wooded area on April 9, and dental records were used to identify the remains this week as Jessica Flores, 36, who was last seen in late February 2019. A search of the area turned up other remains, police said.
Her boyfriend, Drew Carter III, was charged with her murder in March, but the charges were dropped in September with prejudice, meaning they could be refiled at a later date. Carter, a convicted felon who served time for assault and weapons charges, is already in jail on gun charges.
Carter, 42, reported Flores missing in late February last year. On the same day, authorities found his vehicle on fire in Chicago. The Times of Northwest Indiana reported that police discovered a copious amount of blood in the back seat along with Flores’s belongings.
Flores was last seen with Melina Cottrell, 26, of Gary, who also went missing at the same time but was found alive on March 2.
Carter was arrested after a witness told police he shot Flores in the back seat of his car after Flores told him he couldn’t have sex with the witness.
Citing court records, the Times reported that a potential key witness in this case, George Heath, was found shot to death in his home in Gary in March 2019.
Gary police Cmdr Jack Hamady told The Times that the skull appeared to have been damaged by a single gunshot.
Sources close to the investigation told The Times this week that detectives are looking into whether six other deaths around the same time as Flores’s disappearance may have been connected. Those deaths began on February 20, 2019, when a landlord checking on a rental property in Gary found the bodes of Tracy Valentine, 48, and Timothy Snow, 55. Four days later, the body of Wayne Valentine, 69 — Tracy Valentine’s brother-in-law — was found shot to death. The following day, authorities found Tracy Valentine’s husband, 55-year-old Jimmy Valentine, shot to death and dumped in a ditch. That was the same day Flores and Cottrell went missing.
Pamela Crider, 42, was found shot in the face on February 27, and Heath, who had been one of the last people to see Flores alive, was found shot to death in his home on March 11.
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[Featured image: Jessica Carter/MissingInIllinois.org]