- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2016

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - Over 40 people held hands in a prayer circle around the grave site of 72-year-old Ruthie Mae Jackson, the matriarch of the Jackson family.

Kinyada Jackson-Kyler said several dozen Jackson family members gathered in the Headland and Dothan area for a weekend-long celebration and family reunion centered on remembering Ruthie Mae. Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of Jackson’s murder, which remains unsolved.

“We all called her ‘Mom-Mae’ (except for her children), and that’s who kept the family together,” Jackson-Kyler said of her great-grandmother. “This is our way to bring everybody back together again in her honor.”

Dothan Police Lt. Will Glover, the supervisor of the criminal investigation division, said the inquiry into what happened to Ruthie Mae Jackson remains open. He said investigators in the violent crimes unit periodically review old unsolved cases, such as the Jackson one, checking to see if there’s any evidence that can be analyzed with more up to date technology.

Ruthie Mae Jackson was fatally stabbed at least a dozen times about her body and neck during the early morning hours of Easter Sunday, then April 7, 1996, at her 403 E. Adams St. home.

Glover said investigators have ruled out robbery as a motive in the Jackson homicide.

“We don’t close unsolved homicides,” Glover said. “Any lead that’s developed or called in we follow up on it immediately.”

Jackson-Kyler said Ruthie Mae Jackson isn’t the only unsolved homicide victim in the family. She said former Dothan Police Sgt. Robert Jackson was her nephew, and the cousin of Ruthie Mae Jackson’s six children.

Robert Jackson suffered a gunshot wound to his upper torso by shots from a passing vehicle outside his home on Young America Drive on Jan. 31, 1978.

Bobby Joe Jackson Jr., one of Ruthie Mae Jackson’s grandchildren, opened the gathering held at her gravesite across from the Greater Shiloh Baptist Church in Headland with a prayer. Some family came from as far away as Texas while others traveled from Florida and Georgia to attend the family reunion in honor of Ruthie Mae Jackson. She was buried next to her husband Sam Jackson, who died in 1986.

“We ask you to provide the closure we are seeking dear God,” Jackson Jr. said. “Lord we thank you dear God for the children of Jacksons. We thank you for the life and legacy of Ruthie Mae Jackson and Sam Jackson.”

Several of Ruthie Mae Jackson’s children spoke at her memorial on Sunday about how even though 20 years has passed since their mother’s death they still haven’t lost hope for justice to be served.

One her daughters, Shirley Jackson, recalled the last time she saw her mother the day before in the kitchen preparing the Easter dinner. Shirley Jackson encouraged the family to stay strong and serve the Lord just like Ruthie Mae Jackson.

“I was the last one to see her and she was cooking Easter dinner. We were supposed to have went over there for Easter dinner. She was supposed to have called me, and I got a call, but it wasn’t the one I wanted,” Shirley Jackson said. “It was the worst day of my life when somebody murdered my mama. Seemed like everybody loved her, but I guess there was somebody that didn’t. I hope I know who did it before I leave this earth.”

One of her sons, Sam “Red” Jackson Jr., spoke of a dream he’d had about her murder.

“She always called me ‘Baby’ but she said ‘Red’ Joseph done this to me,” Sam Jackson Jr. said. “She had on a pink night gown. It was like she had been in a fight, and she had fought for her life. Those are the words that came to me in a vision and dream.”

Ruthie Mae Jackson’s murder has left the family questioning why.

“It doesn’t make any sense. Why did they take such a beautiful woman away? Ever who done it we forgive them,” he said. “We just pray that one day justice will prevail.”

___

Information from: The Dothan Eagle, https://www.dothaneagle.com


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