The family and associates of the late Dexter Wade, 37, suffered another disappointing setback at 11:30 a.m. Monday while expecting Hinds County authorities to turn over Wade’s remains to them for proper burial, as was promised, only to learn that the county had completed the exhumation at 8 a.m. with no family members there to pay their respects or to take charge of the body.
Family Attorney Ben Crump denounced the county’s move as adding “more trauma” to the eight months of agony already endured by Bettersten Wade on learning in August that her son had been run over by an off-duty Jackson Police officer and buried in a pauper’s grave during the time that she had filed a missing person report with the JPD.
The mother was thoroughly shattered after preparing for a long overdue funeral ceremony to find that her son’s body had almost been taken away from the graveyard without notification.
“They put him in the ground without my permission,” she said. “They dug him up without my permission. I want that to be known.”
“I am so disappointed,” she said at a press conference Monday. “I’ve been disappointed since the day this started. I came to y’all for help. Y’all covered it up telling me no, no, y’all didn’t know where he was. Then come to find out he was in y’all’s department all along.”
The death of Dexter Wade, 37, in March 2023, caused by an off-duty JPD officer accidentally running him over along I-55, captured national headlines when it was discovered that his family had filed a missing person report within a week of his demise. The county allowed the burial of the still-unidentified corpse in the pauper’s gravesite. It was six months later, on August 24, that the controversy was finally revealed.
“There is no excuse for the way this case has been handled,” said Crump. “Every time Ms. Wade takes a step toward getting answers as to what happened to her son, Jackson officials bring her two steps back. We hoped today that Ms. Wade could receive some answers and closure, but once again she is just left with more questions and even more trauma.
“Nobody got permission from the family to take Dexter out of the ground in the early morning hours today. It was an agreed upon position with the county that Ms. Bettersten Wade would be here at 11:30 to commence the exhumation of her son, and they disrespected her. And like a thief in the night, they went and took the body out the ground. She asked who gave permission to Public Works to come out at 8 o’clock in the morning to defy the agreement and the permission to have it happen at 11:30 so you all couldn’t see it in the public. What are they hiding? We’re going to get to the truth. Who gave the order to Public Works? Everybody is trying to wash the blood off their hands like Pontius Pilate. Well, the blood is on your hands. Somebody had to give the order.”
Once the body was recovered, the family and the support group transferred it to a local funeral home. Jackson Attorney Dennis Sweet III confirmed the statements of Crump and Wade, saying, “We went through the procedure. We went to the Board of Supervisors. We agreed with the Board that it would occur at 11:30. We called last night (Sunday), to ask the lawyers for the Board of Supervisors is everything set, is everything straight for 11:30. We get a call from the minister early this morning that he (Dexter Wade) is exhumed and his body is gone. They’re trying to cover it up. That’s what Ms. Bettersten says.”
Crump says Congressman Bennie Thompson and a number of nationally known civil rights leaders are asking the Department of Justice to take over the investigation to find out what happened in both the
killing of Dexter Wade and the aftermath.