Family of missing Orangeburg child pleads for her safe return
ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WCSC) - The family of a missing girl from Orangeburg is hoping someone will recognize her and notify authorities so she can come home safe.
Aspen Jeter, 5, is missing from the home she shared with her mother, Crystal Jumper, 46, whose body was discovered in the home during a welfare check on Thanksgiving Day. While investigating Jumper’s death, authorities realized there was no sign of the child.
The child’s father, 46-year-old Antar Antonio Jeter, is also missing, deputies say.
The child’s uncle, Paulus Jumper, Crystal Jumper’s brother, stood with family attorney Justin Bamberg and Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell Monday morning at a news conference during which Bamberg, speaking for the family, pleaded for her safe return.
“Something happened before Thanksgiving, and it’s very, very tragic,” Bamberg said. But right now, the number one priority is the safety of both Aspen and Mr. Jeter.”
Bamberg said Aspen Jeter suffers from a condition known as Neurodevelopmental Disorder with or without Autistic Features and/or Structural Brain Abnormalities.
“What that means is Aspen is not able to talk, she’s not able to move on her own,” Bamberg said. “So if you were to spot her, oftentimes she’s either being carried by her parents or she’s being pushed in a stroller. She’s not going to be able to speak to you.”
Bamberg also sent a message to Aspen’s father.
“Mr. Jeter, we understand how much you love your daughter,” he said. “I think by all accounts, everybody knows and then the pictures that have circulated with a smile on your face, Mr. Jeter, and the smile on Aspen’s face. It’s very, very, very clear that your daughter loves you and you love her and we know that you would never do anything to hurt her. But it’s not safe to just be out here.”
He said Jeter does not need to feel afraid to come back to Orangeburg or call the authorities or Bamberg’s law firm.
“We just want what’s best for you and Aspen, and that is, right now, making sure that you both are safe,” Bamberg said. “You know, Crystal, isn’t here. And that’s, that’s very, very sad in and of itself, although it doesn’t mean that this situation has to get any sadder.”
Child’s mother’s death ruled a homicide
Ravenell said his deputies responded to Jumper’s home in the 200 block of Louise Drive on Thanksgiving Day to conduct a welfare check. Her family told deputies they had not heard from her since Nov. 1, sheriff’s spokesman Richard Walker said.
Deputies made entry into the home and discovered Jumper’s body. Autopsy results on Jumper indicated she died from a gunshot wound, Ravenell said.
Deputies have been searching for both Aspen Jeter and her father and believe he Jeter may be driving a blue 2015 Mazda 6 taken from the victim’s home.
“We’ve been looking for him in connection with the larceny of a vehicle, but we also want to talk to him as he may have information in the case,” Ravenell said. “We’d like to see if he knows anything.”
Deputies said they received a hit on a surveillance camera at a department store parking lot in the Fayetteville, North Carolina, area on Nov. 27. In that case, a man was seen with a child matching Aspen’s description, Orangeburg County Sheriff’s spokesman Richard Walker said. By the time authorities arrived to investigate the sighting, the vehicle was no longer there.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing a small child in a vehicle with a man the following day, on Nov. 28, but the witnesses said the vehicle left the area.
Ravenell says anyone who sees the two should not approach them.
Antar Antonio Jeter stands about 5-feet, 7-inches tall and weighs around 190 pounds.
One reporter asked during the news conference about whether an Amber Alert was issued.
“At this point, as far as the investigative piece, we really don’t want to get into that today,” Bamberg said. “You know, there will be a time in the future when more information is available in terms of the specifics of the investigative piece.”
Anyone who sees Jeter or his daughter is asked to call the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office at 803-534-3550 or Crimestoppers at 888-CRIME-SC.
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