Family wants answers after father-of-three found dead in Cumberland River

Jessie Tharpe with his mother, Jewel Bailey (Courtesy: Jewel Bailey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It was on the shores of the Cumberland River that a month-long search came to a close.

“Thanksgiving day, we had dinner at my brother’s house,” said Jewell Bailey. “Haven’t seen or heard from him since.

Jessie Quinten Tharpe of Madison, husband and father-of-three, had vanished after a happy holiday outing.

“I knew the next day,” explained Bailey, Jessie’s mother. “Because my son calls me every single day.”

Jewell Bailey (Photo: WKRN)
Jewell Bailey (Photo: WKRN)

The calls stopped coming. Family took to the streets, fliers in hands, hoping for answers.

The answers would come at the river when authorities recovered his body from the slow moving water.

“Very hard, very hard,” said Bailey. “Christmas was not Christmas for me at all this year.”

Officials say the cause of Jessie’s death appears to be drowning, but family is pushing for more details, believing this case is a homicide.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

Jessie was no stranger to law enforcement, with a record that stretched back for years. So early on, many thought he was on the run.

“Not the first time he had been on the run, you know what I’m saying. Wasn’t the first time,” noted Bailey. “My son he wasn’t an angel, but he was my baby.”

With a host of loved ones behind him, they say Jessie had too much to live for. That suicide is out of the question.

They now pray the truth will wash ashore soon.

“He was happy, he was a happy young man,” said Bailey. “I mean, I’m gonna try my best to find out who done this and why.”

Metro police say they continue to actively investigate Tharpe’s death.