‘You’re not alone’ lawyer says as family pleads for safe return of missing girl & her dad

Through their attorney, the family of a missing girl with a rare neurological disorder pleaded for her safe return on Monday.

It has been nearly two weeks since 5-year-old Aspen Jeter was reported missing and her mother’s body was found inside their Orangeburg home on Nov. 24.

While attorney Justin Bamberg pleaded for help at a news conference, he said it was for both Aspen and her 46-year-old father, Antar Antonio Jeter. The Columbia resident is believed to have his child, and they were spotted twice in North Carolina last week, according to the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office.

“Today is a plea, a plea for help. Mr. Jeter and Aspen are currently missing. Something happened before Thanksgiving, and it’s very tragic, but right now the No. 1 priority is the safety of Aspen and Mr. Jeter,” Bamberg said at the news conference before directly addressing Jeter. “Mr. Jeter, I want you to know that if you’re watching — if you see any articles, if you happen to see a newspaper or anything — that we’re here to help. No one wants to see anything bad happen. We really want to know that both you and Aspen are OK.”

The Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office is searching for Aspen Jeter, 5, after she could not be located during a Thanksgiving day welfare check that found a deceased woman, believed to be her mother.
The Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office is searching for Aspen Jeter, 5, after she could not be located during a Thanksgiving day welfare check that found a deceased woman, believed to be her mother.

Bamberg asked Jeter to call the sheriff’s office and any law enforcement agency, or even the attorney’s office. Bamberg said if the missing man were to reach out, even if the attorney was speaking before a judge he’d walk out of court to take Jeter’s call.

The search

Law enforcement officers began searching for the child on Thanksgiving when her mother’s body was found in an Orangeburg home during a welfare check, the sheriff’s office said.

An autopsy showed that 46-year-old Crystal Jumper, who was publicly identified by the Orangeburg County Coroner’s Office, was shot in the upper body. The Orangeburg woman’s death is considered a homicide, the sheriff’s office said on Nov. 25.

Jumper had not been seen since Nov. 1, according to the sheriff’s office.

“Investigating deputies learned the deceased female has a child named Aspen Jeter who was not located in the home,” the sheriff’s office said.

The Orangeburg attorney’s firm, Bamberg Legal, was hired to assist the family in their search for the missing girl. Bamberg was joined at the news conference by Jumper’s brother and Aspen’s uncle Paulus Jeter, as well as Paulus’ son and Aspen’s cousin Stephen, along with Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell.

The missing girl

On Monday, Bamberg said Aspen is non-verbal and non-mobile.

“Aspen is actually one of approximately 10 children in the U.S. that is suffering from a particular neurological disorder, Neurodevelopmental disorder with or without autistic features and or structural brain abnormalities, or NEDASB,” Bamberg said. “Aspen is not able to talk, she’s not able to move on her own. If you were to spot her, often times she’s either being carried by a parent or she’s being pushed in a stroller. She’s not going to be able to speak with you.”

Since discovering Jumper’s body, sheriff’s deputies along with investigators from multiple law enforcement agencies, including the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the FBI and US Marshals Service, have been searching for Aspen and Jeter.

Jeter is the “custodial parent” of Aspen, the sheriff’s office said, meaning she spends the majority of her time with her father.

On Nov. 27, investigators received a hit on a surveillance camera at a department store parking lot in the Fayetteville, North Carolina, area where a male was seen with a child who matched the description of Aspen, the sheriff’s office said.

However, when law enforcement officers arrived, the vehicle was no longer there.

Contact was again made on Nov. 30 in the Raleigh area by citizens concerned about a small child they had spotted with a man in a vehicle, according to the sheriff’s office. The vehicle then left the area.

Information about why Jeter might be in North Carolina was not available.

Jeter is believed to be the man spotted in North Carolina.

“Mr. Jeter, we understand how much you love your daughter. ... It’s very, very, very clear that your daughter loves you and you love her. And we know that you would never do anything to hurt her, but it’s not safe to be out here,” Bamberg said. “You don’t have to feel afraid to come back to Orangeburg, you don’t have to feel afraid to talk to the authorities or to call us. We just want what’s best for you and Aspen, and that is right now making sure you both are safe.”

Justin Bamberg, shown in this file photo, is an attorney hired by the family of a missing girl who is pleading for her safe return.
Justin Bamberg, shown in this file photo, is an attorney hired by the family of a missing girl who is pleading for her safe return.

The background

Jeter had been staying with Aspen and her mother at the home in the 200 block of Louise Drive, according to an incident report. Jumper’s cousin, who requested the welfare check, told deputies Jeter was there “due to his lights being cut off at his residence,” according to the incident report.

The cousin also told deputies Jumper and Jeter “do not get along with each other,” the incident report said

The sheriff’s office has not said Jeter is involved in what it called murder/non-negligent manslaughter in the incident report. No arrests have been reported and there is no word on a motive for the homicide.

“Crystal isn’t here, and that’s very sad, but this situation doesn’t have to get sadder,” Bamberg said.

Jeter might be driving a blue 2015 Mazda 6 taken from Jumper’s Louise Drive home, according to the sheriff’s office. An arrest warrant has been issued for Jeter for the theft of the vehicle.

“We’re not sure if they are still in the vehicle,” Ravenell said at the news conference.

The sheriff previously said that anyone who sees Jeter or Aspen is asked to not approach Jeter, who is described as a 5-foot-7, 190-pound man.

The sheriff’s office has urged anyone with any information on the child’s location or Jumper’s death to contact investigators at 803-534-3550, Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIMESC or submit an online tip.

Neither Bamberg nor Ravenell would speak about the ongoing investigation. Bamberg did praise the sheriff’s office for its efforts to find Aspen, and Ravenell said he and his deputies have been doing all that they can to bring her home safely.

“Aspen is a very beautiful young lady ... she is representative of everything that is right with the world,” Bamberg said, motioning to a photo of the child displayed behind him at the news conference before again directly engaging Jeter. “Mr. Jeter, nobody wants you to not have Aspen. ... Mr. Jeter, if you happen to hear these words, you’re not alone, we want to get things figured out and that you both come home safely.”