A third woman appeared in federal court Friday morning on charges related to the kidnapping of 6-year-old Jashayla Hopson from East Kemper Elementary School April 30.
Shemarius Ruffin appeared in court for a preliminary and detention hearing, and the 25-year-old mother of a 4-month-old child broke down in tears when she learned she would be denied bond.
Ruffin's case now goes to a Grand Jury. She will be held at the Madison County Detention Center.
Ruffin is accused of going into East Kemper Elementary School's library and telling librarian Linda Simpson she had permission to take Jashayla Hopson. She then reportedly escorted Jashayla out to a waiting car driven by Jesse Mae Pollard. Pollard is thought to be the mastermind behind the abduction.
Authorities say Ruffin told investigators she asked to be let out of the car once it crossed state lines into Alabama, but federal authorities say she is seen in surveillance video at a Best Western in Bessemer, AL, with Pollard, Jashayla and her own baby. Jashayla was held in the hotel room overnight.
Authorities also say Ruffin was present when Pollard purchased a cell phone in a Walmart and sent a threatening text message to Hopson's mother.
According to a criminal complaint for Pollard, Jashayla's mother received a text message on her cell phone just after 4 p.m. April that said "don't call the police I will call you later if you call the police u wont see her again."
Jashayla's mother called the phone after receiving the text message and "heard only breathing on the other end." The latitude and longitude information related to the call indicated the phone was at the Walmart store.
According to the complaint, on May 1, a woman drove for "a period of time," and Jashayla was told to get out of the car and wait for her mother to pick her up. Around 1:30 p.m. May 1, the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department received a 911 call saying Jashayla was found in Enterprise, MS.
Another suspect, Wanda Dancy, 51, was denied bond Thursday. Dancy was the secretary at East Kemper Elementary School where the 6-year-old was abducted April 30. Dancy, 51, was arrested May 3 in Meridian.
Jesse Mae Pollard, 54, of Northport, AL, was arrested May 1. She was denied bond in federal court May 2. Pollard is a former Kemper County teacher and coach and the mother of University of Alabama basketball player Devonta Pollard.
According to a criminal complaint, Pollard called Dancy on April 29 and said she needed to take Jashayla as "leverage" against Jashayla's mother, Rochelle Ford, to get her land back. Pollard told Dancy she needed to know where the girl was in the school.
April 30, Pollard went to Ruffin's house and asked Ruffin to ride with her and babysit for her. While in the car, Ruffin overheard Pollard on the phone with Dancy. Dancy told Pollard where Jashayla was in the school and what she was wearing, according to the complaint.
Ruffin then went into the school and to the library and told the librarian that "Miss Wanda [Dancy] said it was alright" for her to take Jashayla. Ruffin and Jashayla left the school, and on the way out, Ruffin smiled and waved at Dancy, according to the complaint.
After Ruffin and Jashayla got into the car, Pollard reportedly called Dancy back and asked about the cameras in the school and told her to delete their phone calls. Dancy said the school's cameras were broken, according to the complaint.
According to a criminal complaint, Jesse Pollard was also questioned by investigators at her Alabama home the night of April 30 about a dispute she had with Jashayla's mother.
Jashayla's family discovered she was missing when she did not get off the school bus April 30. An Amber Alert was issued for Jashayla May 1. Local, state and federal authorities were involved in the search for her.
Kemper County School District Superintendent Jackie Pollock said the district is launching an internal investigation into the abduction. He said the district has policies in place that address the issue of students being checked out of school.
"So, at this point we're basically conducting our internal investigation to make sure that those policies and procedures were followed, and we're looking to see at what point if there was a breach in policy and what took place," Pollock said. "At that point, we'll be able to determine if personnel were involved, and then of course, that will be a matter that we'll have to deal with and act accordingly."
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