Jesse Ross looks like the "All American" college kid, a good kid, who with red hair, freckles and an infectious smile earned him the nickname, "Opie". He excelled in his classes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and was attending a mock United Nations conference in Chicago with 13 of his fellow students. A sponsor had just promised them a trip to Costa Rica, an exciting adventure for Jesse and his friends. Jesse Ross has a promising future ahead of him and proud parents and a family who shared so much.
On November 20, 2006, Jesse phone his mother to let her know the conference was going well and he was enjoying himself. He was the type of son that always kept in contact with his family, especially confiding in his mother, Donna.
The students were staying at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in the downtown are of Chicago close to the river. There was a dance and parties before a mock emergency meeting scheduled at 2am.
Sources say that around 2:30am Jesse got up to take a 30 minute break, walked out of a side door to a well lit walkway. Surveillance cameras recorded him leaving out that doorway. 12 hours later his roommate realized that Jesse had not returned to their room at the Four Points Sheraton but figured he must have been in someone else's room for the night,so he packed up Jesse's belongings for him thinking that the gesture would be appreciated.
Jesse was not in the hotel, Jesse was gone.
Don and Donna Ross and their son Andy are left with so many unanswered questions. Chicago police provided extensive searches of the area surrounding the hotel with no results. How can a young man simply vanish in the middle of a busy city?
Faith is the glue that holds this family together today. Hope and faith that one day Jesse will just walk in the front door.
"We pray for a sign, anything," Donna said. "We pray, 'If he is in heaven with you, that's not my first choice, but God, please give us a sign. Send me an e-mail, a phone call, something. We have to know that he's OK and with you.'
"When you lose someone you love when they pass on, you grieve and then you move on with your life," Donna said. "We are nowhere. We are still stuck in that revolving door. We know nothing more than we knew that first day."
So the search continues, hope continues, life is moving forward, but for the Ross family there is something huge missing, their son Jesse "Opie" Ross. They miss his presence, his humor, his love and life will never be the same for them until they know where Jesse might be.
The family is asking for your help. November 21st was the date of the Opiefest3 and the date that a petition and post cards were sent to the Mayor of Chicago pleading for help in Jesse's case. Please take a minute, write to the Mayor at:
Chicago Mayor's office
121 N LaSalle St. #507
Chicag, IL 60602
If you don't have the time or a stamp to mail a letter you can email your response to Jesse's family and they will make sure to send them on.
Please join us at Peace4 the Missing