Remembering Jesse Waters, the 24-Year-Old Found Dead at the Gathering of the Juggalos [UPDATED]

550-scarab-photo.jpg
courtesy Jason Wade, Unitus Arts & Entertainment Festival
Jesse Waters a/k/a "Scarab," photographed here on August 7, 2011, didn't necessarily identify as a Juggalo.

His name was Jesse, but he went by Scarab or Drake. He was 24, stood five-feet, nine-inches tall, and had reddish-brown shoulder-length hair. He'd driven to the 12th annual Gathering of the Juggalos this year with his girlfriend, a young woman named Melody, who'd been handcrafting boxes with Insane Clown Posse's Joker's Card figures to sell at the festival for five bucks a piece. And then on Friday, he vanished.

On Sunday evening, a barricade fence inexplicably went up by the Gathering's Main Stage, in a stage-left area adjacent to the Ohio River. Rumor was that the Coast Guard found a floating person in the water near the Kentucky-Illinois state lines, a fact confirmed Monday by Illinois' Hardin County police. Yesterday, Kentucky's Union County coroner identified the body found on nearby Sturgeon Island as Jesse Waters from Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

"Jesse was in a way like a modern day Kerouac, as after he left home, he never stayed anywhere for long," writes John Pace, the grandfather he called Poppy. "He wrote and did wonderful art. His writing, which he sent me samples of when he was 16 or so, was quite mature and adventurous. There was the touch of the poet in him."

"Scarab was a writer, a smart outdoor enthusiast, and a caring soul," writes friend Hao Ly, who'd just recently become close with Waters. "He told me he had plans to attend the Gathering of the Juggalos because he wanted to accompany his girlfriend and made sure nothing would happen to her. He's been with her for eight years and loved her very much."

The weekend before the Gathering of the Juggalos, Waters volunteered at the proudly off-the-grid Unitus Arts & Entertainment Festival in Gruetli-Laager, Tennessee, a camping event of drum circles, eco-friendly workshops, and the Southeast's largest fire-poi competition. This is where Ly met him. "He had such an amazing personality and was so ambitious that he helped us out more than the required eight hours," the Unitus founder says about working with Waters. "He took care of everyone during the festival including, finding mint leaves outdoor to help aid sore throats, to cooking for the staff and covering their nightshifts." Ly adds, "He even stayed after the event and was one of the couple to help clean up after everyone has left."

On Saturday, Waters's friends were scouring the HogRock campgrounds, showing a picture around and asking if anyone had seen him. Union County, Kentucky coroner Stephen Shouse doesn't suspect foul play, reports no signs of trauma, and when we spoke with him this morning, confirmed that the autopsy was "unremarkable, pending toxicology results," which will be available in approximately 30 days.

"He asked me and my buddy the best way to get down to the river," posted Gathering attendee Kyle Willard on Facebook. "We told him not to get in it, as it is a powerful river with an undercurrent. I guess he didn't listen to us."

Waters did have a Gathering of the Juggalos wristband on when he was found, but that's a mandatory bracelet for admission. "He was in no sort a Juggalo from what I collected," says Ly. "I know he would not be happy being labeled by the media as a [Juggalo] and I hope that this could be changed."

Regardless, Juggalos have been posting tributes online. "Everyone please say prayers (or whatever your belief might be) for the family of [Jesse] Waters," wrote Mr. Hatchet of the Web site True Juggalo Family. "We lost a homie at the Gathering this year," posted RuthlessNinjette. "May you rest in peace brother til we see you in Shangri-La! MCL!!" Monoxide from
Saturday night's headliner Twiztid, Tweeted, "A moment of silence for the fallen juggalo, Jesse Waters RIP."

This isn't the first time someone has died near the Gathering of the Juggalos grounds since it's been held at Cave-In-Rock. Last year, Hardin County then-Sheriff Thomas Seiner told us that another young man was found dead in the Cave-In-Rock woods at a previous Illinois-based Gathering, a young Juggalo who'd wandered off alone and died from dehydration. The biggest difference between this one and that one is that the national media didn't notice.

Did you know Jesse Waters? Please get in touch.

[cdodero@villagevoice.com | @camilledodero | SOTC homepage | Facebook | Twitter | Letters]

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26 comments
michael
michael

i didnt know jesse. all that well, i met him,melody, and 3 other of his friends we all met up on the hwy when my jeep started to mess up and i pulled over to check it out and they all stop to help me and my bro out, then we all shared a camp site together, it was a blast,jesse was the down to eath tipe of friend every one needs to have, jesse and melody made me fill welcome there. the night he when gone all the jesse and i was hanging at the camp till the others got backthen i whent to lay down for a late show. when i woke.... gone. i fill bad for going to bed insted of staying up with him. sorry for the lost of a friend. yall hit me up on facebook and lett me know how yall r holding up.... soory for ur lost 

Stoneandoak
Stoneandoak

I am his dad though we were somewhat estranged I loved him very much. The world is a darker place without him

Sarah AliveAnd Free
Sarah AliveAnd Free

RIP Jesse, It dont matter if you where A Juggalo or not that fact is ur not here with us anymore. And so meny PPL lost someone they loved. YOU GOTS ALL MY RESPECT!!!!!! MCL 

E Grace Wanamaker
E Grace Wanamaker

Hey J...it wasn't your fault. You were a good friend to Jesse and I am glad you were.  Thank you for that friendship.

Sincerely,

E. Grace Wanamaker(Jesse's Mother)

Ethicsnurse
Ethicsnurse

My heart goes out to Jess's family.  May you know he is at peace; his creativity and quest can continue in the next life. My prayers and thoughts are with you.  Brenda Boyle

Lawhorne
Lawhorne

Hi, Jesse lived most of his adult life at my house on and off. I never called him drake because I thought it was pretentious . I almost feel like this was my fault because I started locking my computer so he couldn't add games to it I didnt tell him he could.

Katie Sinclair
Katie Sinclair

I had only had the pleasure of meeting Jesse only one time, but that one instance of meeting him left a sweet impression in my heart. He was a very kind and caring individual and followed his own path. I admire this about the young man. He showed the utmost respect to the people he was around no matter what race, sex, gender, etc. I have also kept informed about him through his mother. It was an heartbreak to hear about his loss. I know his spirit lives on through the people he loved and had left a great impression on. My thoughts and prayers are with Grace, Melody, Judy, his close family and friends. He will be greatly missed. "With angels take wings and fly to higher places." Bless you all!

Razmear
Razmear

Just got this from Jesse's family via FaceBook, please help if you can

We received notice today from the coroner that they are ready to cremate and release Jess's body once all fees are paid. We do not currently have the funds to pay for his retrieval, and so we are accepting donations to get him home.You may use Paypal for debit and credit card- flatfoot48@yahoo.com orYou may send a Moneygram by going to Walmart and sending it a to:St. Augustine Walmart-Attention Jennifer Wanamaker-1213 A1A S St. Augustine, Florida615-815-8332. (please notify me if you do this at the phone number listed)*****WE CAN'T EVEN GET HIS REMAINS FROM THE POLICE UNTIL WE PAY, so please if you have anything you can spare, even a few bucks or some change, everything helps!!****^

Skweekslette
Skweekslette

did yall get him paid for. Do yall still need help if so please let us know

Sakswife1
Sakswife1

So Sorry for your loss. To Jesse I hope your meeting your dreams wherever you are.

Allie Barnett
Allie Barnett

how dare you troll. I hope this is removed as soon as possible

Allie Barnett
Allie Barnett

I was one of Jesse's friends, and I would like to say thank you for actually talking about him, and no just the fact the he was a "Juggalo" which he was not, he listened to the bands but did not associate himself with the culture like that. All of these other news articles just write "dead juggalo" which is so sad, he was a beautiful person and should be respected as such.

NeedMyMedz
NeedMyMedz

MUCH LOVE THERE FAMILY..... SORRY TO HEAR THIS....

Brandi
Brandi

I'm am so sorry for your loss I can't even imagine what your going threw I send my love and blessing to his love melody and family Jesse water will never be forgotten he will live on in our hearts and minds mcl

Raphaelle
Raphaelle

It is so tragic and sad but why vilify the Gathering ? It could have happened at another fest, sadly young people die for different reasons each year at different festivals, well actually no need to be at a fest for that...Rip Jesse and despite what ignorant medias say Juggalos are people with empathy and are pretty sad about this tragedy and mourn Jess.

JB Pace
JB Pace

I don't think that any sort of gathering should be hated for this, no more than I think The Who were responsible for those deaths in Ohio at one of their concerts years ago. Am I getting old or what? I'm sure there are people from all sorts of backgrounds that went to this Juggalos event. I do not hate you people at all and am not going to trash you. And by the way, the only thing I dislike are the RIP's. I don't blame any of you for saying this, but study a little quantum theory and you will find that it is a high likelihood that consciousness goes on after death. That's why I send my love and blessings to Jesse rather than the RIP thing, which speaks to me of finality. There is no finality...only growth into something new and who knows exactly what!

JB Pace
JB Pace

Jesse was my grandson and though he isn't to be deified or vilified by the press, I am glad that the VV wrote a pretty decent article on him...quite decent. His potential now will never be realized, but I know he's out there somewhere, somehow. This I do not doubt. He was very engaging and like all of us he had his share of problems. When I was his age, I know that I certainly did and probably more problems. I remember him fondly and always will...and he was just as engaging as a child as he was later. He was 5 or 6 when I was bringing him back from camping in the woods where he had to have his own tent where he slept fearlessly at such a young age. On the way back he told me, "Poppy, I can't say damn!" I know I had to have turned my head and smiled and held back the laughter. Knowing you, my dear Jess, you won't be resting wherever you are now as I know your consciousness goes on. You will be partaking of love and joy and whatever else there is in this strange universe! Bye for now! John Burr Pace

Weepingphionex
Weepingphionex

I don't know where the name Scratch came from, but I am his girlfriend, Melody. He was a fan of ICP, and other related bands, but never really claimed the title juggalo. He was into so many different things that he could never be labeled by one genre or subculture. Such a remarkable person I have never known, and will likely never know again. We still do not know how or why he got down to the river. He left the campsite while I was at the restroom, without a word or note, and any information on what happened between then and when he was found would be great help and relief, both to myself, his family, and his friends.

Malakia187
Malakia187

I didn't exactly see it but right next to the mainstage next to my camp ground on the edge of the river right next to the carnival rides he went by the edge and lost his balance my friend and someone else seen him fall my friend said to go get him the Guy said it wasn't his friend so he hesitated. Then finally went and looked over the edge they didn't see any body down there so mu friend help the other guy down there and all he seen was his boots and footprints heading toward the mainstage so he he followed the foot steps till they ended shortly going into the river the Guy came back up saying he couldn't find him

Anon
Anon

Simple, he did it because he's a faggot.

Lucy
Lucy

oh my..so sad.. i am sorry for your loss Melody, he was too young..RIP Jess.

Lucy
Lucy

sorry i meant RIP Jesse.

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