The song begins with a guitar strumming softly for several measures.

The song begins with a guitar strumming softly for several measures.

Twenty seconds later, the drums enter and a male voice begins telling the story of a 19-year-old University of Missouri-Kansas City student who vanished without a trace nearly four years ago.

The first verse recalls the final phone conversation between Jesse “Opie” Ross and his mother on Nov. 20, 2006, as he attended a model United Nations conference in Chicago. According to www.findjesseross.com, Ross promised he would call his mother again the next day when he and his UMKC classmates returned home.

About 12 hours later, Ross went missing and has not been seen since.  

It’s a song the members of the Independence-based rock band A Dead Giveaway wishes they never had to write, according to the lyrics. This month, the band traveled across the Midwest on Opie’s Tour, a series of concerts aiming to raise awareness about all missing person cases, including Ross’ story.

The five-member group, comprised of 2005 and 2006 Truman High School graduates, recorded “Opie’s Song” just before the tour began and has distributed free recordings to tour attendees.

A Dead Giveaway guitarist Bryce Veazey says the second verse of “Opie’s Song” includes the message that band members want to drive home most with listeners: “I may be young/But I know that none of us simply disappear.”   

“I think that’s what we’re trying to say,” Veazey says. “We know that some of these young people go missing, but somebody knows something that keeps whomever from being found. We understand that not all missing people are still alive, but we still think their family and friends deserve the satisfaction of knowing what happened.”

Shortly before his disappearance, Ross met A Dead Giveaway’s drummer Brandon Woodall while they worked together at a movie theater. Ross organized a benefit concert in downtown Kansas City and invited A Dead Giveaway to participate.

From there, Ross developed a strong friendship with the band members, acting like their manager and booking shows.

“He almost became like a sixth band member,” Veazey says.

At 2 a.m. Nov. 21, 2006, in Chicago, the mock U.N. had an “emergency” meeting in its final day of a conference that attracted more than 1,000 college students from across the United States. Prior to the mock emergency, a dance and parties throughout the host Four Points Sheraton Hotel took place.

According to www.findjesseross.com, Ross left the room at about 2:30 a.m. for a 30-minute break. The hotel lobby’s surveillance camera captured an image of Ross walking toward the main doors.

That is the last known sighting of Ross.

The website says Chicago police have no evidence that Ross fell victim to foul play. No activity on his credit cards or his cell phone were recorded following his disappearance.

The tour’s poster advertisement shows about 15 Polaroid snapshots comprising an image of the red-headed Ross wearing a suit and tie and wire-rimmed glasses – and a big smile.

“That image says that the pieces of Jesse’s story need to be put back together for him to be whole again,” Veazey says. “I hope that people can realize that there are bands out there that aren’t just out there trying to get people to listen to their music for their own sake. We’re using our gifts and our talents for a more powerful thing that’s out there. I hope that people come away trying to use their gifts and talents for a greater good.”

The tour will conclude Monday night at Jerry’s Bait Shop in Lee’s Summit, but perhaps the two most pivotal shows will take place tonight and Sunday as A Dead Giveaway performs in Chicago, where Ross was last seen.

“We’re looking at that as kind of the hinge point of the entire tour,” Veazey says of the band’s Chicago shows. “We’re trying to keep pressure on the police department and on the mayor’s office to keep his case open.”

Woodall described Ross as “a really fun-loving, down-to-earth guy who was about his friends.” Ross would now be 23 years old.

Through Opie’s Tour, Woodall said he wants show attendees to gain awareness about missing person cases and to learn to keep their eyes open for unusual circumstances around them – and to always report them.  

“Don’t take anything for granted,” Woodall says. “Just love everybody around you because you never know if someone could go missing around you.”