Jerika Binks: Disappearance Confounds Investigators, Foul Play Suspected

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On February 18, 2018, a young woman named Jerika Binks disappeared while jogging through a national park near American Fork in Utah.

Jerika, who was 24 at the time of her disappearance, was last seen at a residential treatment center in American Fork. She was last seen around 9 AM. She told her roommates that she was going for a run. However, she never returned from that run.

Jerika was staying at a drug rehabilitation center at the time of her disappearance. She had frequently encountered legal trouble involving drug use. Her family says she was clean in early 2018, having just started a new job with a construction company. She had booked a trip for later in February to visit a sweat lodge. The night before she disappeared, she went out bowling with her roommates, seeming very happy according to her friends.

The Disappearance

On February 18, 2018, Jerika told her roommates she was going for a run near the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Since it was Sunday, her roommate decided to go to church instead of join her. Jerika was known to be an experienced runner, visiting this park numerous times for runs. The day of her disappearance, Jerika left her wallet and driver’s license at home, bringing her phone, earbuds and water bottle with her.

She didn’t use any fitness trackers, no FitBit or Apple Watch that could track her run. She reached the trial entrance around 10:00 AM, and there is no evidence suggesting she ever left the region near the highland trail. When Jerika failed to return that evening, an employee at the treatment center called her mother to tell her she was missing.

Search for Jerika

The search for Jerika proceeded swiftly when she was reported missing. Her room at the center was searched, and calls to her phone immediately went to voicemail. That evening, it snowed over a foot, snarling traffic and making conditions around the trail very difficult for search parties to navigate. What’s more, the police accidentally filed her missing person’s report in the wrong district.

So, when search crews finally managed to mount a proper search, eight days had passed since Jerika was last seen. A photographer who was hiking in the canyon the same day Jerika went missing reported that she had heard gunshots in the distance. Given that it wasn’t hunting season, and the gun sounded like a handgun, she was unnerved. This tip did not lead to any concrete evidence, however.

Roughly a month later, wildlife camera footage emerged showing her running through an area that had been closed for the winter, leading to an extensive search of the region. The search was futile: no information about Jerika’s disappearance has ever surfaced. Theories about her disappearance have boiled down to one likely outcome: she was likely attacked on the trail and either killed or kidnapped.