Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Disappearance and Presumed Murder of Rochelle Battle

Rochelle Battle was only 16 years-old when she disappeared on March 6th, 2009. The teen last spoke to her mother around 10 PM that evening; she said she was on her way to go shopping at Eastpoint Mall in Baltimore, Maryland and would be home soon. Unfortunately, Rochelle never returned home and has never been seen by her family or friends again.

After Rochelle was reported missing, investigators used cell phone records to try and follow her steps the evening she was last seen. The phone revealed that Rochelle was actually not headed to the mall at 10 PM like she had told her mother. The phone records actually placed her at the mall an hour earlier, but between 9:00 PM and 9:30 PM, Rochelle’s phone traveled from the mall to Eastern Boulevard and Old Eastern Avenue.

Investigators believe that Rochelle took a bus from the mall to meet up with a 34-year-old man named Jason Gross (pictured below). Both Rochelle’s and Jason’s phone records place them together that evening. Additionally, after she spoke to her mother on the phone that evening, Rochelle called her a friend and told her that she was with a “white friend”. 

Jason Gross

Jason was an obvious suspect from the beginning, as he already had a criminal record for previous sexual assaults. He was questioned by police about Rochelle’s disappearance, but he denied any involvement. Jason admitted that he met Rochelle online—he claimed that she was a prostitute and was soliciting her services online. He said that he asked Rochelle to meet up with him at a local bar the evening of March 6th, but she never showed up.

However, the cell phone pings obviously told a different story. The two did not meet up at the bar, but they did meet up at Jason’s home. Investigators searched Jason’s property, but no trace of Rochelle was found. Still, investigators did notice that Jason owned an incinerator that he kept in his backyard. 

After over a year of gathering evidence, police arrested and charged Jason Gross with Rochelle’s murder in April 2010. He pleaded not guilty and went to trial in October 2011. 

During opening statements, the prosecution stated that GPS tracking from the cell phones prove that Jason “met up with [Rochelle], got her into his house, killed her and burned her body in an incinerator.” The defense claimed that they could not prove that Rochelle was dead without a body. Despite this, the jury ultimately sided with the prosecution and found him guilty of murdering Rochelle. Jason was given the maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. He remains behind bars today. 

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