By Troy Foster
>Fate of Culver woman remains a mystery two months after she disappeared
The whereabouts of a Culver woman missing for more than two months remains a mystery to law enforcement officers, her neighbors and the quiet husband who says he last saw her walk off his porch wearing a black sweatshirt, blue jeans and white tennis shoes.
Jackalin "Jackie" Thompson, an attractive 28-year-old woman with two kids and blonde hair, was last seen in the early morning hours of Sept. 1 by her husband of 2 1/2 years.
Her disappearance has local investigators scratching their heads in a missing person case with few clues and no leads. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has even sought the help of psychics to solve this mystery.
They know little more than what Steven Thompson, Jackie's husband, has told them.
He had just returned home around 6 p.m. on Aug. 31 from 25 days spent in the Klamath Basin, where he and a friend were working in mint production.
"We had a wonderful evening together," Steven Thompson says. They shared from a bottle of Johannesberg Riesling wine. Jackie even surprised Steven with a gift, the book "Portrait of Alaska's Wildlife" by Tom Walker.
But later, after the two had gone to bed, Jackie got back up and decided to go for a walk sometime after 1 a.m.
"The last I'd seen her she was walking off the porch," Steven says. "And I didn't think anything of it at the time."
A quiet woman
To understand why Jackie could have gone for a walk in the middle of the night you'd have to have know a little about Jackie -- a woman that few knew.
Those nearest to the Thompson family knew her as a quiet, shy neighbor who didn't open up very easily.
"She kind of kept to herself -- not too outgoing," says Bonnie Buckles, a neighbor who kept in touch with Jackie while Steven was out of town. "She was just a really private person."
Jackie's shy demeanor may have stemmed from her medical condition. She was depressed and on medication that made it difficult for her to sleep, her husband says.
Often, she'd get out of bed and go for a drive or a walk late at night to calm her nerves. Upon returning, she'd usually have an easier time falling asleep.
Steven and Jackie were married on April 24, 1999. The quiet couple moved to their quiet, relatively secluded home on Juniper Butte from Portland one year ago. That was not long after Jackie gave birth to their daughter, Taylor, who is now 16 months old and appears mostly oblivious to her mother's disappearance.
"Taylor is the only one that's keeping me going," says Steven, who adds that the only sign that their daughter knows Mom is gone is when he sees Taylor act inquisitive when she walks toward a picture of Jackie and her sister.
The Thompsons were also raising another daughter, 10-year-old Alexandria, who is now with her biological father.
Steven, a 44-year-old steel fabricator and former professional football player is also a quiet, reserved person. He says he is suffering from four ruptured disks in his back. He is reluctant to talk about his playing days with the New England Patriots.
But he does speak fondly of what he describes as a "unique" marriage with Jackie.
"We didn't dig into each other's past lives," he says, noting that they'd both been through tough relationships. "It's just better left alone."
While Steven was away, he says, Jackie wasn't doing well so he cut his business endeavor short, returning home about a week earlier than planned.
On the very night he returned, Jackie got out of bed to go for a drive. She had consumed a few glasses of wine, Steven says, and he told her it would be best if she didn't get behind the wheel.
So on that night she went for a walk, Steven says, and never came back.
"We were supposed to go boating the next morning," says Steven. "When it got daylight I was really, really concerned.
"I sat here a long time, just staring out the window."
By nightfall he reported his wife missing.
A week later Steven's stepdaughter Alexandria was taken by her biological father, Jackie's ex-husband, who arrived at their door to take the girl with him to Phoenix. That same man is seeing Jackie's very sister -- the one in the picture Taylor looks toward when she wonders about her mother.
Steven hasn't heard from Alexandria since.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Capt. Greg Partin has no way to characterize Jackie's disappearance other than to call it a "difficult" investigation.
"There's a lot of strange things going on in this case," says Partin. "The ex-husband coming and getting the daughter was strange. We've got different family members not speaking to each other and we're here trying to coordinate what they're saying. There's lots of things. And there's too many unanswered questions."
Jackie, born in England, had been through a tough divorce with a man who is a documented alcoholic. Add the fact that her sister is seeing the very same man and you've got a formula for rigid family relations. Steven says he knew little of his wife's turgid family situation until after she disappeared.
What the sheriff's office does know about the night of her disappearance is only what Steven has told them.
Partin describes Steven Thompson as being "cooperative" in the investigation. But with little to go on and no physical evidence, Partin says, "At this point we have not eliminated anyone as a suspect."
Steven has taken a polygraph test, but Partin declines to disclose results of that test because it hasn't fully been analyzed.
Steven says he has understood from the beginning that he would be under the microscope since he was the last person to have seen Jackie. "They are doing their job and I commend them for that," he notes.
Logistics are also a roadblock in the investigation, Partin says. A detective from Maricopa County in Arizona is trying to follow up with the ex-husband and interview Jackie's daughter, who is reportedly doing poorly in school and showing no emotion.
"We've interviewed everybody we can," Partin says. "Right now we just don't have anything solid to go on."
But there are various theories on what may have happened to Jackalin Thompson on Sept. 1, including one from a psychic who says she believes she was abducted and is still alive.
"I've never worked with a psychic before but I've also never had a missing persons case like this," Partin notes.
Other scenarios include the possibility that Jackie committed suicide, fell into the canal nearby her home, was the victim of a cougar attack or ran off with another man. Or, maybe, her husband isn't telling the truth.
Advice from psychics has also been sought by relatives of Jackie. They have offered visions that have been passed on to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office secondhand. One says Jackie is under a bridge somewhere. Another has said simply that she is under water.
The clues in this case, or lack thereof, don't seem to point definitively at any scenario.
A diver has searched areas at the bottom of Haystack Reservoir where the canal enters it but found no traces of Jackie. Some people have said they heard screams the night of her disappearance and others in the area have said they heard them a week later.
"I have no idea what happened to her," says Steven. "I hope and pray that she is still alive."
Eileen Thompson, Steven's mother, is helping take care of Taylor at the couple's residence. She says there is no way Jackie would have left her family.
"She loved her kids and was very possessive of them," Eileen says. "She wanted to take care of them and wanted them in her site all the time."
The neighbors that know the Thompsons describe them as a bonded, happy couple that always got along and valued family above everything else.
"They cherished each other," Bonnie Buckles says. "And Steven cherished the ground she walked on."
But with little to go on, investigators are looking for anything that may point them in the right direction. They ask anyone with information to call them at (541) 475-6250.
"It's highly unlikely that she was taken on her own free will," Partin says. "But nothing makes much sense in this case."