Search and rescue efforts persist for missing Pheba woman

Victoria Hudson’s white Jeep Liberty was found partially submerged in a shallow creek along a TVA transmission line in southwest Clay County on Friday (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)

Ryan Phillips

Investigators plan to continue the search and rescue operation for a Pheba woman missing since Thursday morning.

Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott said multiple agencies are participating in a grid search for 23-year-old Victoria Hudson, of Pheba, and day three of the search efforts is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. Saturday morning.

Storms in the area put a slight damper on emergency crews Friday night and no new updates were provided as to Hudson’s whereabouts.

The fourth-year Ole Miss student contacted 911 briefly in the early morning hours Thursday, but her phone powered off at 7:33 a.m., according to emergency officials.

Scott said Hudson’s white Jeep Liberty drove through a locked gate on a heavily-wooded private road in southwestern Clay County near the Cedar Bluff community, before driving down the rest of the road to a clearing and out along a Tennessee Valley Authority transmission line. White paint could be seen on the gates, which police believe came from Hudson’s vehicle.

Hudson’s car came to a stop when it ran into a shallow creek. Scott said investigators believe she then exited the vehicle and eventually took a photo of the transmission line to try to provide context to her location.

Police credit the photo with speeding up the efforts to find her last known location. TVA also contributed a helicopter to the search and rescue efforts on Thursday, which led to the abandoned vehicle being found.

“She did not indicate any signs of injury, we are looking at the car,” Scott said. “We know it kind of nose-dived off in there. There were no air bags deployed, no signs of blood. she didn’t give any indication to 911 that she was seriously injured.”

Scott said 911 officials told Hudson they were trying to find her and pleaded with her to stay with the vehicle until they could locate her.

Authorities at first thought Hudson had wrecked off of a main road after they were given certain landmarks, like Polly Bell Road, in Oktibbeha County. But when they homed in on her phone, they traced it to the end of Mhoon Valley Road near the TVA line.

“But at that point in time, they began pinging the phone and realized that she’s going to be over here in this area somewhere,” he said, pointing back to the densely-wooded area where the car was still located on Friday.

The Mississippi Task Force set up a small camp at the site of the vehicle, but search efforts moved well past the location of the abandoned Jeep.

When asked why police believe Hudson rammed her Jeep through a locked gate, Scott said his office wasn’t yet certain enough to comment.

“It’s just hard to say and when you run out of road, you should turn around, but in this case she didn’t, she went through the gate and kept on driving, so, that’s what really had us baffled for a little while (Thursday) morning,” Scott said. “She kept saying she was off in a creek or a ditch, and we were checking every ditch between here and Starkville trying to locate her.”

When asked how the investigation would persist going into Saturday, Scott said it would remain a search and rescue operation until further notice.

“Right now, nobody’s had any contact with her whatsoever, so we’re under the assumption she’s alive,” he said.


The Mississippi Task Force and other agencies set up a makeshift command post at a vacant service station on Thursday, but moved to a larger space at a logging company across from a private residence on Mhoon Valley Road.

Search efforts, including some agencies from as far as DeSoto County, initially began in Oktibbeha County, along Mississippi Highway 389, but soon moved to the southwestern part of Clay County once the location of Hudson’s vehicle was confirmed.

“She was on the phone with 911 early that morning, there was some confusion to start with, she was leading Clay County to believe she was actually in Oktibbeha,” Scott said. “There was major confusion, Oktibbeha was searching all the roads and the areas and just could not figure out where she was. That’s when Clay got involved.”

Volunteers could be seen Friday morning walking through the woods and along overgrown roads looking for any sign of the missing woman.

Dozens of volunteers from the surrounding area rolled in to the command post to help in the search, including West Point native Jacob Ware, who brought his four-wheeler to add to the efforts.

“I came out to volunteer, I searched all day yesterday and I’ve been at this hunting club my whole life,” Ware said of a wide swath where the search is being conducted. “I know this bottom well, we just need to get down there and try to look. I was down here before everything started yesterday, but everything is rolling.”

Scott said the rugged terrain and other elements have made it difficult for the search parties, but said the efforts will continue on.

“We are dealing with cutover, we’re dealing with creeks, very very dense undergrowth is making it difficult for the people and even the dogs are having trouble trying to get through it, then on top of that you’ve got the heat, all of it together making it very difficult, so the volunteers that we’ve got down there and the response team we’ve got to help serve, we appreciate their efforts and ask everyone to keep them in their prayers.”