The body of a Black man killed by police in Mississippi’s capital city and buried without his family being notified of the death or burial is set to be dug up more than eight months after he was first reported missing.
The exhumation of Dexter Wade, 37, is scheduled to take place on Monday afternoon at his “pauper’s grave” at the Hinds County Penal Farm in the city of Raymond, according to a media alert sent from civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Wade’s family. A “pauper’s grave” is a place where unknown or unclaimed individuals are buried.
The Hinds County Board of Supervisors voted last week to authorize the exhumation of Wade’s body after receiving a petition for it to take place.
Wade’s family is expected to hold a prayer vigil immediately preceding the exhumation.
An autopsy and press conference are expected to follow the exhumation.
MEDIA ALERT: @AttorneyCrump and the family of Dexter Wade will hold a news conference tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. CT following the exhumation of Dexter Wade’s body. The 37-year-old was fatally struck by a Jackson Police Department cruiser in March. pic.twitter.com/U5rf1yRxYm
— Ben Crump Law, PLLC (@BenCrumpLaw) November 12, 2023
Official funeral details for Wade were not immediately announced.
A GoFundMe account created nearly a month ago by Wade’s mother Bettersten Wade to raise money to help pay for her son’s funeral and autopsy has only raised a little more than $14,000 of its $100,000 goal.
“Dexter deserved so much more than being buried in a pauper field grave for the unknown,” Bettersten Wade wrote on the GoFundMe page. “He was a beloved son, father, nephew, and community member who deserved to be treated with love and care and given a proper resting place. Thank you so much for supporting this effort and my family as we deal with the trauma the police have caused us.”
According to NBC News, Bettersten Wade last saw her son on March 5.
A week later, she reported him missing to the Jackson police and then followed up for months. She called missing persons investigators seeking information on numerous occasions, posted appeals on Facebook, searched abandoned houses and asked neighbors for help.
On Aug. 24, a Jackson accident investigator told Bettersten Wade about her son’s death, more than six months after she reported him missing the first time. The accident investigator told her Wade had died the night he left home, struck by a police cruiser while crossing a nearby highway, which was later confirmed by the Hinds County coroner’s office.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said Dexter Wade’s death and the subsequent lack of communication with his family “honestly was an unfortunate and tragic accident.”
“It is tragic to lose your child,” Lumumba said during his annual State of the City speech late last month. “It is tragic to suffer the consequences of having to bury your child before you pass. But to add insult to that trauma, it is even more difficult to not have the ability to have a proper burial for your child. And for that, we regret a circumstance that Mr. Wade’s family has had to deal with.”
Bettersten Wade and Crump have accused the Jackson Police Department of having a vendetta against her family because of a 2019 case where Bettersten Wade’s 62-year-old brother died after a Jackson officer slammed him to the ground. The officer involved was convicted of manslaughter, but is appealing the verdict.
“It just doesn’t pass the smell test,” Crump said. “That’s why people all over America are talking about what happened to Dexter Wade in Jackson, Mississippi. We are asking for the Department of Justice to investigate this matter because the family does not have trust in the Mississippi officials. Would you after this happened to your brother and child?”
Crump has called for a Department of Justice investigation into the death.
To donate to Dexter Wade’s GoFundMe account, click here.
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