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The Bizarre Disappearance of Jason Jolkowski

Jason Jolkowski, missing since 2001

Jason Jolkowski, missing since 2001

Who Was Jason Jolkowski?

Jason Jolkowski was born on June 24, 1981, in Grand Island, Nebraska, to parents Jim and Kelly. He had a younger brother named Michael.

Jason was described as shy, intelligent, and kind by those who knew him. He was a part-time student at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and dreamed of becoming a radio DJ one day. He also worked at a local Italian restaurant called Fazoli’s.

A Baffling Disappearance

On June 13, 2001, 19-year-old Jason was on summer vacation at his family’s home in Omaha, Nebraska, when he received a phone call asking him to come into work early.

Since his car was still at the auto repair shop, he had to figure out another way to get to work. So he called a co-worker and arranged to meet her at nearby Benson High School, roughly half a mile away from his home, and from there she was supposed to drive him to Fazoli’s.

However, he would never show up.

Jason was last seen by a neighbor, Chester Link, who spotted him helping Michael, his younger brother, take the garbage cans back to the garage and then walking in the direction of the school at about 10:45 AM that morning.

When he failed to arrive, his co-worker phoned his house at some time between 11:15 and 11:30 AM, looking for him, but he was not there.

The eight blocks between the Jolkowski home and Benson High School were made up of quiet residential streets with little traffic.

Security cam footage from Benson High School confirmed that Jason never arrived that day.


An Investigation With No Evidence

Jason’s parents waited to report him missing until the following morning because they believed (wrongly) that it was necessary to wait a full 24 hours before notifying the police.

According to the blog Disappeared, the authorities initially assumed that Jason was just another teenage runaway and did not begin to investigate his disappearance until 10 days after he went missing. But his family and friends were certain that he wouldn’t have run away, explaining that his family meant everything to him and that things were going well in his life.

According to Jason’s friend, Amanda Goodman:

“He loves his parents and his brother more than anything in the world. He’d be talking to me on the phone and he’d put me on hold so he could tuck his brother into bed. His family came first.”

Jason was described by his parents as considerate and generous, the kind of person who would go out of his way to help others.

“He was an unusually polite person,” said Kelly Jolkowski.

It’s believed that Jason had only his cellphone and no more than $60 on him that day. Nothing else had been taken from his bedroom.

The police interviewed friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, but were at a loss to explain what had happened to Jason. There had been no additional sightings of him and there was no forensic evidence or even circumstantial evidence to work with in this case. It was as if he had simply vanished without a trace.

Jason was also said to have no interest in partying and no known involvement with alcohol or drugs at any point in his life.

Following his disappearance, there was no further activity on either his bank account or his cellphone. No suspects have ever been identified in this case.

So what happened to him? How did Jason vanish in broad daylight during such a short window of time?

One of the officers involved in the investigation was quoted as saying Jason's disappearance was “the most baffling case” he’d seen in 30 years.

Jason Jolkowski Theories

In a case like this, one with no witnesses or evidence of any kind, one can only speculate as to what might have happened.

But the main theory, which his family also believes to be true, is that Jason was lured into a vehicle by someone that day and then murdered.

Jim and Kelly Jolkowski with a framed photo of their missing son.

Jim and Kelly Jolkowski with a framed photo of their missing son.

Jason's Law

Jim and Kelly Jolkowski went on to create “Project Jason,” a non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance to the families of missing people. They also lobbied for “Jason’s Law,” which was passed by the Nebraska Legislature in 2005 and resulted in the creation of a statewide database for missing persons.

Kelly was later awarded a Volunteer for Victims award from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as Nebraska Governor's Points of Light Award.

Current State of the Investigation

According to the Omaha Police Department, the investigation remains open and active, but it is essentially a cold case with no promising leads.

In 2021, the Jolkowski family gathered with Jason’s friends at a park for a grim commemoration— the 20th anniversary of his disappearance.

Jason’s mother, Kelly Murphy, said:

“Unfortunately, with this mark, I will have not had him more years than I had him in my life since he disappeared at the age 19. He was almost 20, but he was 19. That’s just hard to fathom. 20 years, that’s two decades.”

Murphy recalled a memory from those lost years:

“We really didn’t have a name for it, but it was kind of a who laughs first game. You would say one word, and it was usually something silly. You would just see who would start laughing. And he (Jason) was the one who always lost. We knew he had a tendency to start giggling.”

Despite the enduring pain of their loss, Jason's family still remains hopeful that one day they’ll have closure and definitive answers about what happened to their son.

“Hope is your right until you know the truth,” Jason's mom added. “Some people try to take hope away from you. They think, well, you should be over that by now, you should be back to normal. Everyone deserves hope."

Jason Jolkowski has been missing since 2001.


"Jason Jolkowski," Disappeared, November 19, 2021

"Disappearance of Jason Jolkowski", Wikipedia

"There's no leads, nobody saw anything," Emily Tencer, KETV 7, June 13, 2021

"Family still searching for missing son", Marion Rhodes, Omaha World-Herald, January 5, 2004

"Month Passes Without Clue of Disappearance of Son," Kamahria Hopkins, Omaha World-Herald, July 13, 2001

"MISSING: 20 year anniversary of Jason Jolkowski’s disappearance," WOWT News, June 12th, 2021