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  • Writer's pictureAuthor T.D. McLaughlin Talks

How one mother unearthed 214 others in Hinds County, Mississippi

In the face of tragedy, sometimes emerges an unexpected hero. In Hinds County (Jackson), Mississippi, a frustrated, fearless and determined mother named Bettersten Wade finds herself on this unanticipated and unlikely journey, unveiling a shocking reality that has and had been concealed in the Hinds County, Mississippi dirt. Little did Ms. Wade know that her relentless pursuit of truth would shine a blinding light on a situation that could not be ignored by the city, the county, the state or the country as a whole.

Wade's journey began with a mother's search for her missing son, Dexter. She refused to accept the notion that he had simply vanished without a trace. In her unwavering determination, she not only located Dexter but uncovered the remains of 214 other individuals discarded in Hinds County's makeshift paupers' grave. The revelation is both disturbing and reflective of a deeper issue in Hinds County, Mississippi. While unnamed, undermarked graves are not uncommon in this country, the sheer number of individuals left in what appears more like a human landfill than a final resting place is alarming. In this tragic scenario, it becomes evident that Hinds County does not invest much effort in finding the families or loved ones of those they deem unimportant.

Dexter Wade's case is particularly poignant. He was a person, a son and a Mississippi resident. He may have been deemed unimportant to Hind's County officials and he may have been written off as a drifter. But that he was not. He lost his life after being struck by a Jackson, Mississippi police cruiser, while carrying state identification, a bank card, and a pill bottle with his name and address on his person. On the surface, it seemed like a case with sufficient leads for detectives to follow. However, in their haste to close the case and absolve their officer, Jackson officials chose to dispose of Mr. Wade in an undignified manner. He was discarded like trash with no attempt to contact his family. Mr. Wade was issued a bodybag and a plot with only a three digit number to identify him by the same people who ended his life. Even though Hinds County had discarded and forgotten about him, his mother, Bettersten Wade, fueled by her motherly love and determination, did not and has emerged as a hero for her efforts. Her refusal to stop searching for her son, despite the obstacles and negligence she faced from authorities, sets an inspiring example. Her quest for truth extends beyond her own pain, offering hope to other families, friends, and the community to uncover the numerical laden temporary resting places of their loved ones and neighbors.

The tragic reality is that Hinds County, Mississippi, seemingly lacks the commitment and fortitude to address such cases properly. It's easier to write these people off as drifters or homeless folk who are faceless, nameless and powerless. The authorities' unwillingness to provide closure and justice to the families of the deceased reflects a poorly run and corrupt system. Even with a federal task force assigned to the matter, the prospects of obtaining justice for the nameless bodies seem bleak. As the spotlight turns towards Hinds County officials and Mississippi authorities, there is an urgent need for accountability and explanations. Bettersten Wade's heroic journey not only exposes a deeply flawed system but also demands justice for the individuals who were callously discarded without any attempt to identify them. In the face of institutional shortcomings, Bettersten Wade stands tall as a symbol of resilience and determination. Her unwavering pursuit of truth serves as a beacon of hope for those who seek answers and justice for the nameless and discarded.

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