A few weeks ago I launched my new series – Missing Monday – where I feature a missing person case, giving them a voice and sharing their story. I’m one of those people that’s weirdly interested in crime and particularly missing people so this is something that’s really close to my heart.
I’m also going to broaden this series slightly and instead of just posting once a month I’ve decided that this will be a weekly series and it’s going to be every single Monday. There are so many missing people I want to feature and doing it monthly would take forever.
However since announcing this series a while ago I’ve let my blogging game slip and hence this post is a lot later than it was meant to be. But anywhoo it’s here and it’s time to get back in the swing of things.
I’ve also decided to have a go at making this in to a podcast series – I will give more information on this in the next few days but watch my twitter feed for more information on that.
Anyway enough of an introduction. This week I’ve decided to start with one of the cases that always sticks in my mind and one that captured the attention of many – the disappearance of Jennifer Kesse.
Who is Jennifer Kesse?
Jennifer Kesse was born on the 20th May 1981 in Florida to a close-knit family. She had an excellent relationship with both her parents and her one brother. While she lived 90 minutes away from them she was renowned for her ability to keep in constant contact. She was a straight-laced, focussed and hardworking individual who had graduated from the University of Central Florida with a financing degree.
At the time of her disappearance Jennifer had been with her boyfriend Rob for a year and while the relationship was long-distance it appeared to be going pretty well. A financial analyst who had bought her own condo by the age of 25, Jennifer was just beginning her life when she tragically disappeared in January 2006.
On the 23rd January 2006 Jennifer Kesse drove from her boyfriends home in Fort Lauderdale to the condo she owned in Orlando. The couple had just arrived home after a vacation to Saint Croix and while Jennifer had enjoyed the get away, she was feeling incredibly tired. In a call to her mother that evening Jennifer explained how happy she was to be home and stated that she was looking forward to sleeping in her own bed that evening. While she had intended on having a quiet night in, Jennifer spent a lot of the evening on the phone to her loved one’s making calls to her mother, boyfriend and best friend. Everything seemed fine with her, they later commented, and from what they could tell there was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.
The alarm was raised the following day (24th January 2006) by Jennifer’s employers who found it odd that she had not made it in to work. This was extremely strange of the reliable and conscientious analyst who always called in on the rare occasion that she was late. The employers contacted her parents expressing their concern that they had not heard from Jennifer. Immediately after that call her parents attempted to contact her and were shocked to find that all calls were going immediately to her answer phone. This was extremely out of character and alarm bells began to ring for the parents.
The parents quickly took the decision to drive down to Orlando, asking Jennifer’s brother to come with them. As they embarked on the 90 minute trip Jennifer’s father placed a call to the manger of the condo complex where Jennifer lived, asking him if he could check whether her car was still parked where it should be. It wasn’t and Jennifer’s Chevy Malibu also appears to be missing.
When the parents arrive at the condo the first thing they noticed was that there is no sign of Jennifer and that nothing suggested that there had been any kind of a struggle. In fact the impression they get is the complete opposite and everything suggests that she’s left as she normally would. Her suitcase still stood by the door full from her holiday, her bed had clearly been slept in and outfits were laid out on the bed apparently ready for work. There was even a wet towel on the floor. The only things missing are Jennifer, her car, her keys, her cell and her purse – things she’d take on a regular day.
Her parents were left baffled and began to consider what might have happened to their beloved daughter. They then spot something which has only heightens their concerns – a can of mace left open on the sideboard. An incredibly safety conscious women Jennifer always carried a can of mace in her handbag so for it to have been left behind suggested that perhaps she had tried to use it.
The parents called the police shortly after this point but the police showed little interest, declaring that Jennifer had a fight with her boyfriend and would probably come back on her own. Yet her parents took the initiative and understanding that they had little time to act decided to produce flyers with Jennifer’s information on and proceeded to hand them out at all the intersections which Jennifer would have driven past on her way to work.
The media managed to pick it up within hours and at 9PM that evening the police finally filed a missing persons report and added Jennifer to the database.
On Thursday the 26th of January a resident in a complex less than a mile away from where Jennifer lived reported a black Chevy Malibu in the car park. She had seen the story on the news. It was Jennifer’s car and the police immediately invited Rob (Jennifer’s boyfriend) along for the initial investigation. As with most missing person cases he was considered a suspect and the police wanted to see his reaction as they popped open the truck, which they feared might contain Jennifer. The police considered his reaction to be “normal” and although they didn’t find anything, he’ll never forget that moment. The car yielded little clues but Rob noticed that the car seat was pushed back further than Jennifer’s usual driving position.
The police thought they had found their break when they noticed that CCTV covered most of the car park. Yet the CCTV footage turned out to be a major letdown because while it does indeed capture the person who abandoned the car, the footage is poor. The one shot that might have revealed the suspects identity proved to bring nothing but further disappointment. In the footage the suspect is seen walking away but his face is covered at every step by bars that make up the fence.
The CCTV clearly shows the key suspect in the case, either the person who committed the crime or someone who knows what happened to Jennifer but the footage is so poor that the police won’t even say what sex it is.
What do we know?
In all honesty we don’t really know a lot about Jennifer’s disappearance and that’s the really concerning thing because normally there is at least something to go on. We know that her car was taken with her and we know that she was at home on the evening of the 23rd January 2006.
In the initial investigation the police focussed on those closest to Jennifer, as is often the case in missing person enquiries. This means that the father, brother and boyfriend were initially considered but these have largely been eliminated.
At the time Jennifer went missing the area in which she lived was still considered “rough” but was undergoing a lot of construction and investment in a bid to make it over. The complex in which Jennifer’s condo was based was also undergoing development and she had previously expressed some concern at how the construction workers behaved around her. This also meant that half the units were empty and as a result there were less witnesses than there might be elsewhere. It later came to light that many of the workers were illegal and when the police started asking questions many of them disappeared. One in particular became a person of interest and years later he was arrested for sexual assault.
The police were also pointed towards an ex-boyfriend who happened to be in a bar near her condo the night before she went missing. It was a relationship that seemed to have happened badly and he took it pretty badly. To this day he hasn’t been ruled out.
I believe that something happened to Jennifer either as she was leaving her condo for work that morning or just before she was due to leave. The scene in her condo suggests that she had awoken and got ready for work as she usually did, taking a shower and shuffling through her clothes in order to decide what to wear. I think she grabbed her handbag, throwing in her keys and cellphone ready to go.
At this point I think one of two things happened. I think that either she heard a knock at the door and someone tried to force her in to the condo or she encountered someone in the hallway as she was leaving for work.
Thinking about the can of mace that was found in the condo, it suggests to me that Jennifer felt under threat in or near the apartment and therefore tried to protect herself. She was either forced in to that apartment or someone forced their way in just as she was leaving for work. Perhaps this might suggest that it was actually someone she knew.
Everything suggests that Jennifer was abducted in the morning and that seems really high risk so I believe that it was probably opportunistic and not necessarily planned.
I personally think it’s highly unlikely that Jennifer is still alive because everything suggests the opposite.
Of course this is all speculation and I only know what I’ve read online.
Where can I find out more?
The parents have set up a really informative website where you can find out more information on the case. I would also suggest that you watch the Disappeared episode about Jennifer, it’s called Girl Interrupted and can be found on youtube.
Of course if you know anything then you should contact the police immediately.
What do you think happened to Jennifer? What are your thoughts? Let me know what you think of this series and please let me know if there are any cases that you would like me to feature.