LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Family members of a missing Louisa father are devastated after his body was found in a wooded area not too far from where he lived.
Thirty-four-year-old Jacob Whaley was last heard from on Monday, Jan. 3 when he was on his way home from work during the snowstorm. According to Jacob’s family, they have frustrations toward authorities after immediately reaching out and inquiring about search efforts.
Initially, the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office was leading the investigation due to where Jacob’s truck was found.
In addition, family members told WFXR’s sister station, WRIC, that they notified authorities of his potential location.
On Monday, Jacob was heading home to Louisa when his truck went into a ditch. Jacob was in contact with his family and told them he would walk the rest of the way which was about six miles. He texted his mother at approximately 8:46 p.m. Family members told WFXR’s sister station his phone only had 14 percent battery left when he started to walk.
The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office said his phone later died. According to the sheriff’s office, they were contacted by a family member of Jacob, stating that he had broken down and abandoned his vehicle in a neighboring county.
According to the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, Jacob’s truck was found on Mt. Olive Road, which stretches into neighboring Hanover County. The Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office had initially filed the missing persons report.
After being missing for three days, the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office said Jacob was located on Thursday, Jan. 6 in the woods approximately 209 yards off the roadway in a very dense pine plantation near Greenes Corner Road. According to Jacob’s mother, Shannon Whaley, this was the area where she thought he would be.
Family members and close friends told sister station WRIC they’re in shock and angry.
Angela Whaley, Jacob’s younger sister, said that her brother had driven his boss home right before this happened and she was looking up tow companies for him after he left his truck.
“I’ve had to listen to my mom cry for the last three days,” Angela said. “My brother died because he helped someone that night. He was being nice and he couldn’t even get the same respect.”
Jacob’s family said he did not show up for work this week and missed visitation with his son on Wednesday, Jan. 5.
The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office said they did check the area where he was last heard from. The sheriff’s office said deputies immediately responded to the family’s request to check both the roadside area along Greenes Corner Road, the roadways in between and his residence multiple times over the next few days.
Jacob’s family said they feel as if the response was delayed.
“They pointed fingers about whose job it was,” Angela said.
The family later increased search efforts on their own by organizing a search party of civilians along with two Louisa deputies. According to Angela , some members of the search party didn’t even know Jacob , but offered a helping hand. Others knew him from his place of work.
Brandon Schrader was a civilian who helped search for Jacob.
“If it wasn’t for us getting on our feet, we would’ve never found him,” Schrader said.
Angela drove down six hours from Pennsylvania to search for her brother. She said she walked seven hours on Wednesday.
“I’m the baby and I had to go search for my brother and hope to find him alive,” she said.
Angela said her brother just wanted to see his son.
“How do you tell a two-year-old that his dad’s never going to see him again?” she asked.
According to family members, members of the search party found footprints and evidence that Jacob had tried to start a fire.
The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office said a Stafford volunteer firefighter was ultimately the person who located Jacob’s body.
Angela told WFXR’s sister station she was the one to first tell her parents that Jacob was gone after receiving a call from a member in the search party. It’s a nightmare relived for Jacob’s parents, who lost their other son James in a car accident 20 years ago.
“I had to hear my dad scream because he lost another child,” she said.
The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office said Jacob’s records were transitioned to them once his body was found in the county.
The sheriff’s office called the incident a ‘perfect storm’ when referring to the number of emergency calls and welfare checks they had to respond to during and after the snowstorm. For example, some residents were running out of oxygen.
The sheriff’s office told sister station WRIC, their “heart breaks with the family.”
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Mr. Jacob Whaley. Missing Person’s cases are always a top priority for the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office and we share in their grief and sorrow.”Louisa County Sheriff’s Office
This is still an ongoing investigation. Anyone with any additional information is asked to contact the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office at 540-967-1234.