and Jamie Fraley is still missing.
Gastonia, NC – Kim Sprenger’s car smelled funny all weekend. She first noticed it on Saturday night, but the smell was worse on Sunday when she drove some women to church. By 6:00 Sunday evening, Sprenger started scouring her car for the source of the stench. When she opened the trunk of her 2007 Ford Taurus, she found it. Her ex-boyfriend, Ricky Dale Simonds Sr., was inside her trunk. And he was ripe with the miasma of decomposition.
Sprenger did what any normal woman would do on finding a dead ex-boyfriend in her car trunk: she freaked. Then she called police. Sure enough, the body belonged to the 49 year old Simonds, who also used the last name Simmonds and Simmons. Kim Sprenger had taken out a restraining order a week earlier against him after she believed he had broken into her car. Looks like he broke into it again – and either wouldn’t get out, or couldn’t.
But the story gets weirder. See, Jamie Fraley has been missing since April 8. And Jamie Fraley’s boyfriend is Ricky Dale Simonds, Jr., the son of the dead guy in the car trunk. Jamie had been living in a Gastonia apartment complex – the same apartment complex where the elder Simonds and Kim Sprenger had been living before their breakup.
And Simonds, Sr. was no stranger to violence. In 1986, he was convicted of manslaughter after he strangled his girlfriend. Since his 1992 parole, his rap sheet has been less violent, but in April and May, Gastonia police alerted Kim Sprenger that the elder Simonds was watching her. She herself reported stalking behavior, hence the recent restraining order.
Jamie Fraley’s disappearance was just weird. She had the stomach flu and had been to the hospital twice already on the April evening she went missing. She was trying to get a third ride to the ER, but her boyfriend, Ricky Dale Simonds Jr., said she never showed up. Her purse, keys and ID were found in her locked apartment, and her cell phone was found on the side of a local road two days later. No sign of Jamie has been found.
Jamie Fraley has a lot of Myspace pages: here, here, here and here. Two of them use the name “Jamie Simonds”.Â She is white, tiny at 4’8″ and just 90 pounds, with blond shoulder-length hair and brown eyes. And she’s a true crime buff – one of her Myspaces is a tribute to JonBenet Ramsey. Another Myspace page is dedicated to missing persons, especially Samantha Rae Mendez from Gastonia, who has been missing since 2005.
So what happened to Jamie Fraley? Is it possible that Ricky Dale Simonds, Sr. held the answer? My gut says yes. Maybe he was an idiot who got too hot while stalking Kim Sprenger and couldn’t unlock the safety latch in her trunk. Maybe he was suicidal and wanted to frame Kim Sprenger for his death. Or maybe he didn’t get into the car trunk by himself after all. Did he know something about Jamie Fraley? Did he do something to Jamie Fraley?
It’s gonna be very interesting to see how this plays out. And while I hope very much that Jamie is alive, eight weeks is a long time to be missing without a trace. Nothing in her Myspaces, one of which was accessed the day she disappeared, indicates a problem. No trace since April 8? That doesn’t look good. And now one guy who might have some answers is dead.
Jamie’s mother says, “I feel like she’s still out there and I’m going to believe that until someone shows me otherwise.” I hope for her sake and Jamie’s that she’s right.