On Memorial Weekend 2006, little three-year-old Jewel Strong was visiting her grandparents in Panama City, Florida while her parents Racharel and Simona Strong where back home in Jonesboro, Georgia.
Jewel and her eighteen-year-old cousin were on a float in St. Andrews State Park when they drifted beyond the bounds of the park’s “kiddie pool” area and into an adjacent jetty channel with strong currents. The float overturned and Jewel’s cousin had to be rescued and rushed to the hospital.
A search ensued for little Jewel Strong but after a week of searching the Panama City Beach, authorities determined that she drowned. Since there was no proof, no body, no evidence that Jewel had drowned, the Strong’s continued searching for answers to what happened to their little girl.
Simona Strong stated that she and her family started to receive reports from many people that Jewel had been sighted in the company of three black women. In March 2007 someone contacted the Strong family and said that they had seen Jewel at the Golden Coral in Jacksonville, Florida in the company of three black women.
The family obtained the surveillance video and was given new hope that their daughter may still be alive.
“Clear as day. We just knew it was her, just to see her moving about for seven minutes we were sure,” said Simona Strong.
Then in August the Strong family got another lead. Jewel had reportedly been spotted in a Walgreens in Orlando. Once again the surveillance tapes were reviewed and it showed a little girl and a woman walking in and paying at the counter. Ironically, it seems that the woman may have been one of the three women on the surveillance video from the Golden Coral in Jacksonville.
Since the two alleged sightings of Jewel Strong who would now be four-years-old, the family has moved from Atlanta to Jacksonville in hopes of finding their daughter alive.
In September of 2007 Sheriff Frank McKeithen said at a press conference that the security video of a girl from an Orlando Walgreens was not 3-year-old Jewel Strong. He maintained that leads were followed up to secure the credit card transaction information of the lady in the Walgreens and concluded that the little girl with her was not Jewel.
The family has a birth certificate and other “documentation” to prove the girl shown is theirs and not Jewel, McKeithen said.
As far as the video of the little girl purported to be Jewel at the Golden Coral in Jacksonville, the Sheriff says, “You can’t say it’s her and you can’t say it’s not her.”
The Strongs maintain that they think Jewel was abducted during a chaotic situation and have a website set up to receive tips about their daughter. Although the sightings are unlikely Jewel, the Strong family will not give up hope until they know what happened to their daughter.
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