Circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a missing transgender woman took a twist after a former friend, who was arrested, declared the incident a hoax.
Deanette Lynn Rowbotham, 40 of Jay, made the claim after she was charged with extorting money from the victim’s former boyfriend.
Rowbotham is charged in Delaware County District Court with extortion by means not amounting to robbery, a felony. She is free on a personal recognizance bond and due back in court on June 5.
Rowbotham is accused of reportedly calling the former boyfriend of Aubrey Dameron, 25, of Grove, and trying to extort money.
Dameron was last seen on March 9. Family reported Dameron missing two days later.
“At one time she was a close friend,” said Delaware County Sheriff’s Capt. Gayle Wells referring to Dameron and Rowbotham.
At the time of her disappearance, Dameron's uncle Christian Fencer, and aunt Pamela Smith, feared the incident might be related to a hate crime.
Dameron, who was born Austin Dameron, began transitioning and identifying as a female while a student at Grove High School.
Dameron has undergone some medical procedures during the transition, but has not completed the process.
About the incident
On March 12, Rowbotham reportedly called Dameron’s former boyfriend, Jay C. Pierson, of Grand Junction, Colorado, saying Dameron “was being held against her will for drug money owed and is in Ketchum,” according to an arrest affidavit filed by Captain Gayle Wells with the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.
Pierson told authorities Rowbotham said “if he would send some money she’d put in some money of her own money,” the affidavit states.
Rowbotham concluded the conversation with Pierson saying “if they don’t get the money they’re gonna take him for a ride,” the affidavit states.
Pierson told investigators, Dameron, who had been living with Pierson in New Mexico, left August 18 to return to Oklahoma to get help for alcoholism and drug abuse, the affidavit states. Pierson later moved to Colorado to live near a family member.
During an interview with Wells, Rowbotham disputed Dameron’s disappearance saying “she didn’t really think Aubrey was missing” but thought she was “trying to do whatever to get her man back,” and she “really thought Aubrey’s parents knew where she was,” the affidavit states.
Rowbotham told investigators Dameron went without any contact with friends or family for five days in December because she and Rowbotham were together, the affidavit state.
“It was unusual for her not to check in with her family or close friends within a few days,” Wells said, referring to Dameron.
While Jennifer Byrd, Dameron’s mother relayed a message through Smith, she did not wish to talk to the media, Fencer continues to act as the family spokesman.
Fencer said the family first learned about Rowbotham and her claims, shortly after Dameron disappeared. They turned the information over to authorities.
Fencer said he continues to question information given to authorities by his sister, Dameron's mother, and others.
He questions if Byrd has been forthcoming with authorities about everything she knows. He also wonders if she had something to do with Dameron's disappearance.
"I want to say no, and believe in the no," Fencer said. "I can't say that without giving [Byrd's information] the benefit of doubt."
Fencer is concerned Dameron may have disappeared well before Byrd reported her daughter missing.
"No one can verify they saw her in the last few weeks before March 9," Fencer said. "[Dameron] was either being reclusive or the dates provided were not the correct dates."
Fencer said he is continuing to follow up on every lead regarding Dameron; including one lead regarding a search for Dameron on Cherokee tribal land.
Fencer is also in discussion with Lissa Yellow Bird-Chase, founder of Sahnish Scouts - Missing Persons of North Dakota, about coming to help provide additional resources and training to those looking for both Dameron and other missing persons in the area.
According to Yellow Bird-Chase's Linked In profile, the Sahnish Scouts - Missing Persons of North Dakota began in June 2012, as a group designed to conduct "searches, investigation, information, recovery, and support to families of the missing."
While the group primarily focuses on Native Americans and those living within North Dakota, the group does take on out of state cases involving Native American families, or North Dakotans who disappear out of state.
"We are just wanting to get her name out there, to make sure her voice isn't forgotten about," Fencer said.
More about the disappearance
Dameron was last seen around 3:30 a.m. on March 9 leaving her mother’s home north of Grove wearing a thigh high black mini-skirt, black hose, black shirt and black leather boots with heels.
Wells said she left without her medication, purse and her cell phone which contained no available minutes.
A member of the Cherokee tribe, Dameron is approximately 5-foot, 9-inches and weighs 130 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes, with a triquetra symbol tattooed on her back, and a tattoo reading "shorty" on her upper left arm.
“All we know now is that we have a missing person’s case,” said Delaware County Sheriff Harlan Moore. “She could have walked away or something else happened.”
“We have 50 supplemental reports filed. Every lead and tip is thoroughly investigated.”
Moore said officials with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations has been called in to assist with the investigation.
On March 1, assault and battery charges were dropped in Delaware County District Court against Dameron for fighting with her mother’s boyfriend, online records show.
Dameron was also charged in June 2016 with assault and battery on an uncle. Both charges were dismissed at the request of family members, online records show.
Fencer hopes anyone with information about Dameron will contact the Delaware County Sheriff's office at 918-253-4531. Both he and Smith believe any lead, even if it turns out false, is better than no lead.
Additional information about Dameron and the search may be found on the Facebook page run by Fencer and Smith by searching "Missing-Aubrey-Dameron-from-Grove-Oklahoma."
Tips may also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.