Mother of former Tide player Devonta Pollard sentenced to 25 years for role in Mississippi kidnapping

Jesse Mae Brown Pollard
Jesse Mae Brown Pollard
Jesse Mae Brown Pollard

JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — A woman has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison in the kidnapping of a girl from her elementary school in a family dispute over a piece of land and a portable storage shed.

Jesse Mae Brown Pollard of Northport, Ala., was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge William Barbour Jr. in Jackson. She has been described by prosecutors as orchestrating the plot.

Pollard also faces two years of supervised release and has been ordered to pay $1,400 in restitution, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office

Five others who helped her were sentenced in January. Wanda Faye Dancy, Shamarius Ruffin and Shaquayla Johnigan each received about a year in prison. Joyce Johnigan and James Shurman Johnigan each was sentenced to eight months.

The child was taken April 30 from East Kemper Elementary School in the Kemper County community of Scooba and dropped off unharmed near a stranger’s mobile home the next day.

Pollard’s son, former University of Alabama basketball player Devonta Pollard, was allowed to avoid prosecution if he stays out of trouble for two years. He said he didn’t know about the plot until it was too late and testified against his mother.

Prosecutors say the child’s mother, Roshell Ford, bought a piece of foreclosed land that once belonged to Jesse Pollard and that Pollard wanted it back, along with a portable shed that was on it.

Prosecutors say Dancy, the school secretary, told Jesse Pollard where to find the child that day: in the school library. Jesse Pollard and Ruffin went to the school, and Ruffin went inside to get her, then they all drove to a hotel in Bessemer, Ala.

Evidence at trial showed Pollard went to a store there, bought a cellphone, and sent a text message to Jashayla’s mother saying: “don’t call the police I will call you later if you call the police u won’t see her again.”

Ruffin wanted to go home, so Jesse Pollard called her great niece, Shaquayla Johnigan, whose car broke down en route in Boligee, Ala. Devonta Pollard went to get Shaquayla Johnigan and took her to Jesse Pollard, prosecutors say.

Shaquayla Johnigan then took the girl to a hotel in Laurel, Miss. The next day, after a missing child alert had been issued, Shaquayla Johnigan called her father, James Johnigan. He called his wife, Joyce Johnigan, and asked her to meet Shaquayla Johnigan in Vossburg, Miss.

After meeting up, the two women dropped off the girl, unharmed, near Enterprise, Miss.