Jade Winston was shot and killed on August 17, 2007, in her Carrier Mills, Illinois. Thirty-six hours later, her brother Jerome Mitchell was killed in a car accident. Family members believe the cases are connected. Jade’s murder is still unsolved.
Richard Morgan, Jade’s high school superintendent, described Jade as being “a great kid”. She was a senior at Carrier Mills High School. He also stated Jade was “very energetic, happy, friendly, and always smiling.” According to the Southern Illinoisan, Jade played volleyball, softball, was a member of the dance team, a cheerleader, and was also involved in school clubs. The Southern Illinoisan also spoke with Jade’s cheerleading coach, who described her as a “spirited and loving person and someone that everybody loved.” At the time of her murder, she lived with her sister and a friend on Mill Street in Carrier Mills, Illinois.
A 911 call was made on August 17, 2007, before 11 p.m. The responding officer arrived at the Carrier Mills, Illinois, home at 10:54 p.m. and peered through the window. He could only see the legs of a female lying on the floor. Upon entering the home, the officer saw the female, who would be identified as Jade, lying on the floor in a pool of blood. There was a 9mm semi-automatic handgun under her left leg and ammunition to the gun in her left hand.
Though it was obvious that Jade had died from a gunshot wound, officials would not sate t the manner of Jade’s death for several months.
Tragedy Strikes Again
Jerome Mitchell, Jade’s brother, had been driving in Harrisburg when he got into a car accident, on August 19, 2007, which took his life. A passenger, who survived, told police he had no recollection of the car accident or how it happened. According to the Illinoisan, the passenger told police he did not know Jerome and had only met him shortly before the car accident occurred.
Family members believe Jerome was on his way to confront a person responsible for Jade’s death. “My nephew (Jerome) was going to pursue those or someone responsible for Jade’s death. I believed he was run off the road” April Scales, Winton’s aunt, told the Southern Illinoisan. Mary Miller, Jade’s mother, also told the news outlet she believes her children’s deaths are connected and that “It’s in God’s Hands Now”
Though Jade’s death was not ruled or called a homicide for several months, investigators set up a tip line, a Myspace page, and asked the public for any tips. Throughout the course of the investigation, investigators state they have interviewed dozens of people, though none of the interviews have generated any leads.
Forensic tests would take months to receive results, leading to a delay in officially causing the manner of death.
Ruled a Homicide
On January 31, 2008, a coroner’s inquest was held at the Saline County Courthouse. They presented evidence to a 6-person jury, which had the duty to decide if Jade’s death was a suicide, homicide, accident, natural, if it could not be determined. A crime scene specialist and the pathologist who performed the autopsy, along with Officer Fort, testified that they believed Jade was murdered.
According to the Southern Illinoisan, the responding officer stated he ruled out a suicide upon seeing Jade’s body. Officer Fort told the news outlet, “It was just an odd position to be in if you were to shoot yourself.”
The gun used to kill Jade was reported stolen from Raleigh, Illinois, several months before she was killed.
Case Goes Cold
Though police had a few leads in the beginning of the investigation into Jade’s murder, none of them generated anything concrete. There had been rumors that Jade had received death threats from an ex-partner two weeks before her murder, but this lead went cold.
Police told news outlets they had interviewed over 70 people and had given 6 people polygraph tests; none of which led to a suspect.
Police have not confirmed nor denied if Jade’s and Jerome’s deaths are related. Jade’s homicide remains unsolved and is still being actively investigated.
If anyone has information regarding Jade’s case, please contact the Carrier Mills Police Department at (618) 994-4411 or the Saline County Sheriff’s Office at (618) 252-8661.