Mother maintains son's death was no accident


Jesse Maness' death has officially been ruled an accident, but his mother maintains it had to be murder, and she's not giving up her fight.

Kathy Gaines has even launched a social media campaign and petition

"I lost my baby," said Gaines. "There's a part of me missing that I'll never get back."

Maness, 24, was finally found in October 2012 after being missing nearly a week. His car was found overturned near in creek on the Randolph County line.

"We searched for six days," said Gaines. "We searched for six days and nights for him."

Maness had vanished after a night out with friends in Siler City.

The official ruling is that Maness ran off the road into the creek and drowned, but Gaines doesn't buy it.

"I think he was murdered. I know he was murdered," said Gaines.

She wonders how searchers could have missed the car for days.

"It's hard for me to understand why someone didn't see his car up on the bank," said Gaines.

She also says he was found in different clothes than he'd worn out that night.

"I feel like he was home and dressed for bed and something happened," said Gaines.

She believes Maness was killed somewhere else and dumped at the scene just before he was found.

"There should be an investigation," said Gaines. "My son deserves an investigation."

However, there has been an investigation, and reviews of it. The sheriff tells the I-Team, "We have investigated any complaint or allegation Mrs. Gaines has brought forward and it's been thoroughly investigated by our agency and other agencies. There has been no credible evidence to point to anything other than a tragic automobile accident."

Still Gaines and her family say there's new evidence.

"We had someone come over to our home and say they were a witness to Jesse's murder," said Gaines.

A witness, Gaines said, to the murder, and the staged accident.

However, just two weeks ago, the State Highway Patrol, which also investigated, sent a letter which said the new witness was "determined not to be credible" and that the Highway Patrol "...having reviewed the relevant evidence ... remains steadfast in its opinion that this was not a staged event."

All that, still not enough, for Maness' grieving mother.

"Our lives can't go on until this is concluded," said Gaines.

All that's left at the scene where Maness was found is a cross next to a wooded riverbank. The agencies the I-Team spoke to said this is a closed case, but for Gaines this is something that'll never be closed until all of her questions are answered.

The Randolph County District Attorney's Office meanwhile wants the SBI to review its investigation, and assume all responsibility for the case going forward.

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