sexual assault

Jasper woman, 62, sexually assaulted, family offers $5,000 reward for information


The Jasper County Sheriff’s Department is seeking information about the sexual and physical assault of a woman at a residence on Highway 18 that occurred around midnight last Saturday.

“We have a very dangerous person in our community somewhere,” Sheriff Randy Johnson said Friday in a video statement on Facebook.

Edith Blackledge, 62, was assaulted in her home near the Antioch Community, just east of Bay Springs on Highway 18. Officials aren’t offering many details about the assault, but they did say that she was rendered unresponsive by her attack.

The call to her home in the rural community was a medical call, and the sheriff’s department doesn’t respond to medical calls unless asked to, Johnson explained. It was only after Blackledge got to University

Medical Center in Jackson that it was learned she had been assaulted.

Medical officials did a sexual assault examination on her, and investigators have been to the hospital to talk to her several times. She couldn’t talk Tuesday because a ventilator was in her throat, Johnson said. On Wednesday, she was unable to communicate “because of her medical condition,” and his investigator went with a “female officer from Jones County” on Thursday.

“She’s still struggling with answering questions,” Johnson said. “We need the community’s help.”

Johnson asked that anyone with any information — “even if you think it’s small” — should call the JCSD and report it. “If you saw anything out in that area, please notify us.”

Johnson said that he and his department are in daily contact with the victim’s family.

“We have people of interest and we’re following leads,” he said.

The family is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator(s) involved.

Johnson said that Blackledge’s condition is improving and she is expected to survive.

Residents should be mindful that a “dangerous person” is in the community or has passed through recently, Johnson said. They should take the precautions that they would any time.

“Keep your doors locked, don’t open the door for people you don’t know,” he said.

Johnson encouraged residents to call his office if they see anything out of the ordinary, such as a suspicious vehicle.

“Get a tag and a description … don’t be afraid of bothering us,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Anyone with information can call the JCSD at (601)-764-3050 or East Mississippi Crime Stoppers at 1-855-485-8477.

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