Family wants answers in teen’s 1977 DeSoto County disappearance

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DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — Jimmy Lee Armstrong vanished more than 40 years ago. But his family says he didn't just disappear — he was murdered.

They believe it all boils down to race.

"I think Jerry was killed out there on Craft Road," said Johnny Armstrong.

Back in 1977, his brother, 17-year old Jerry Armstrong, vanished. Johnny has spent four decades of his life waiting for answers.

Jerry was the quarterback for Hernando High's football team. But his family says that decision didn't go over well with some of his teammates.

"A lot of the white guys didn't like it, because Jerry was the quarterback for the team," Johnny said. "They were a little jealous of him for that."

The last time the Armstrong family saw Jerry was two days before Christmas, when he had dinner with his family. He then attended a Christmas dance with his girlfriend at the National Guard armory in Hernando.

Johnny said after the dance, Jerry drove his girlfriend home.

Jerry and the car he was driving, a 1973 Pontiac Le Mans, were never found.

"That night, Momma and Daddy got up at 12:30 looking for Jerry, because Jerry said he was going to be home at 12 o'clock," Johnny said. "Momma said, 'Something has happened to Jerry.'"

The next day, Armstrong's family reported him missing.

His disappearance affected his entire family — especially his mother, who died at age 49.

"Mommy died of a broken heart," Johny said. "Everyday you can see it in her eyes, she would say everyday, 'Lord God, please send my child home.'"

Over the last 40 years, Johnny and his family have heard different theories about what happened.

Some believe Jerry Armstrong was murdered on the side of the road by white supremacists and buried in a landfill.

Another theory has Jerry being mistaken for his older brother James — who was involved in an interracial relationship at the time — because the night Jerry disappeared, he was driving James' car.

The Armstrong family has called hundreds of people over the years looking for answers. But it was a phone call Johnny received that had the family reaching out to the FBI.

"They said, '***** you gone tell them investigators to back off. You next, we gone kill you,'" he said.

Mary Armstrong, Jerry's older sister, said her family just wants answers.

"My dad is 86 years old and he deserves to know what happened to his son," she said.

Johnny Armstrong believes someone knows what happened to his brother but they're too afraid to come forward right now.

"They waiting for some of these people to die out to keep from hurting some of these people's family," he said.

If you have information please call the DeSoto County Sheriff's Office or the FBI.

 

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