Adoptive mother arrested in case of Buckeye boy who went missing in 2016

Dec 13, 2022, 11:11 AM | Updated: 12:33 pm
Police took Crystal Wilson into custody on Dec. 12, 2022, in Gainesville, Georgia. (Buckeye Police Department Photo) Crystal Wilson (Buckeye Police Department Photo) Jesse Wilson (Facebook File Photo)

PHOENIX — More than six years after 10-year-old Jesse Wilson went missing from his Buckeye home, police announced Tuesday that his adoptive mother has been arrested in the case.

Crystal Wilson, 54, was indicted by a grand jury last week on one count of abandoning or concealing a body, Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall said during a press conference.

She was arrested Monday at her home in Gainesville, Georgia, where she’d been living for several years, and will be extradited to Maricopa County for prosecution, Hall said.

Hall said there were a lot of leads in the high-profile case, “but all of our leads led back to Crystal being responsible.”

However, the chief said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge her with homicide.

“We worked the case through the county attorney’s office, and this was the best, most-fitting charge at this time,” he said.

Hall said Crystal Wilson has given conflicting statements and “there was never an admission on exactly what happened.”

“She knows what happened,” he said. “She’s not telling us. The onus is on her.”

Jesse went missing in July 2016. Crystal Wilson told police at the time that he ran away from home after she put him to bed.

His remains were found in March 2018 on the side of the road near Broadway Road and State Route 85, about 6 miles from his home.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office declared his cause of death as “undetermined.” Hall said he thinks neglect may have been a factor.

“This case was personal to a lot of people: the people who gave their time and energy to search for Jesse, the people who were very brave to pick up the phone and provide tips and, most importantly, to those who love Jesse,” Hall said.

Jesse’s biological grandmother Cynthia Lauderdale spoke during Tuesday’s press conference.

“We never gave up hope that justice was going to be served,” she said. “We’re just happy that it’s finally come to the end to where the person is going to be … held accountable for the things that she did.”

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Adoptive mother arrested in case of Buckeye boy who went missing in 2016