Ariz. Boy, 10, Vanished in 2016. His Adoptive Mother, Who Pleaded for His Safe Return, Was Just Charged

Jesse Wilson's skeletal remains were found on the side of a road in 2018

A Georgia woman has been charged in connection with the 2016 disappearance of her 10-year-old adoptive son, Jesse Wilson, police in Buckeye, Arizona, announced at a Tuesday press conference. Jesse's skeletal remains were found on the side of an Arizona road in 2018.

During Tuesday's press conference, Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall announced that Crystal Wilson, 54, is being charged with abandonment or concealment of a body. Wilson was arrested at her current home in Gainesville, Georgia, and will be extradited back to Buckeye, where she lived with Jesse at the time of his death.

Jesse disappeared in the early morning of July 18, 2016, from his Buckeye home. Wilson initially said he'd run away by slipping out his bedroom window during the night, and she made public pleas for help in his disappearance. Local residents came out by the hundreds to help search for the child, and there was an active police and FBI investigation. Still, Jesse's remains weren't uncovered until March 2018 when he was found on the side of the road, a few miles from his home.

Jesse's cause of death was ruled "undetermined" by a medical examiner, according to multiple outlets.

jesse wilson, crystal wilson
Buckeye AZ Police Department/Facebook

Though Jesse's biological family had long suspected that Wilson played a part in his disappearance, at yesterday's press conference, Hall said there wasn't enough evidence to move forward with earlier charges because of the state of Jesse's remains when he was found. "It's very difficult … when you don't have a body," Hall said. "After we did locate him, that didn't provide any further information for us."

Hall also said he believed Wilson moved the little boy's body from her house and then disposed of it. DNA collected from her Jeep, as well as GPS evidence, allegedly put her in the area of where the remains were found. "She knows what happened," Hall alleged. "She's not telling us; the onus is on her."

In 2020, a new investigator was assigned to the case to look for new leads and angles. "This case was personal to a lot of people," Hall said. "Jesse was a 10-year-old boy who deserved the best in life."

jesse wilson, crystal wilson
Buckeye AZ Police Department/Facebook

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Though some of Jesse's relatives are thrilled by the new developments in the case against Wilson, his biological grandmother told AZ Family she was hoping for a more serious charge.

"I want a murder charge on her. That was my grandson. She killed my grandson, I know she did," the grandmother claimed, according to the outlet.

Authorities had reportedly been called to Wilson's house on at least one other occasion before Jesse vanished in July 2016. However, Hall said, "There was nothing on that initial call to indicate abuse [or] neglect."

It is unclear whether Wilson has retained an attorney or issued a plea.

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