Writing about both central Florida and the DNA’s role in solving crimes this week, I was reminded of Jennifer Kesse, a well-known missing person’s case out of Orlando that I’ve blogged about before.
This January (2016) marked the 10-year anniversary of 24-year-old Kesse’s disappearance. Are you familiar with the case? Her family works hard to keep the case alive in the media — which, as I’ve learned from my research about missing children, is one of the keys to finding missing people.
At the time of her disappearance in January 2006, Jennifer Kesse lived alone in a condo in Orlando. She spoke to her boyfriend on the phone at 10:00 pm on the evening of January 23rd, and that’s the last time anyone reports hearing from her. She never showed up at for her job at Central Florida Investments the next morning. When police searched her condo, it appeared that she had been there the morning of the 24th and got ready for work. Clothes were laid out on her bed and her shower was still wet.
Two days later, Orlando Police found Kesse’s car about a mile away at a condominium complex down the road from her own. Grainy surveillance footage shows that whoever was driving her car pulled into the visitors lot there, waited 32 seconds, then walked away.
The FBI estimated this “person of interest” to be between 5’3” and 5’9”. The clearest footage we’ve seen, which is still grainy, shows this person walking past a fence. The camera clicks about every 2 seconds. Unfortunately, the person’s image is blocked by the largest poles of the fence during the moments the camera clicks.
So what happened to Jennifer Kesse??? There’s not much evidence to work from, but her family is hopeful. According to Orlando local TV station WFTV,
“Investigators said they are resubmitting evidence taken from Jennifer’s car to be reexamined by the FDLE lab. They are hoping new technology and advances in DNA examination will hold the clue that could one day solve this case.”
In many ways, I see Jess Kimball (the protagonist of my Jess Kimball Thrillers) in the woman I understand Jennifer Kesse to be. They’re both ambitious, organized, smart, responsible, career-minded, and alert. And the fact that Jess Kimball, like Jennifer Kesse, spent time in central Florida, means the case really strikes a chord with me.
Kesse’s story will be featured on the TV series Disappeared on the Investigation Discovery channel on June 6, 2016.
Here’s hoping authorities, with the help of an alert community, can bring answers to the Kesse family.