Jennifer Kesse: Why Has This Missing-Persons Case Never Been Solved?

From all appearances, Jennifer Kesse of Orlando, Florida was a happy, successful, well-adjusted 24-year-old woman with a bright future. Then she disappeared one day in January of 2006 and has never been found. Theories abound as to what happened, with many suggesting she was killed by a male coworker whose advances she had spurned. Will we ever know what really happened?

On January 23, 2006, Jennifer Kesse had just returned from a vacation with her boyfriend in the Virgin Islands. She drove to work that morning from her boyfriend’s house in southern Florida. She was last seen leaving work at around 6:30PM. She placed calls to her family, friends, and finally her boyfriend—who lived two hours away—at approximately 10PM.

And this was the last contact she was to have with anyone who knew her.

The next morning, her boyfriend grew concerned after she didn’t call him or send him any text messages. Attempts to phone her went straight to voicemail—investigators later determined her phone had been turned off the night before.

A couple hours later, after she’d failed to appear for an important meeting at work, her employers contacted her parents, who hadn’t heard from her, either.

Her parents made the two-hour drive from their home to Jennifer’s condo, where they found signs that she’d recently showered. Her bed was unmade and there was a wet towel and water droplets still covering the shower. It’s notable that despite the fact that an unknown man’s sweater was found in her laundry hamper, her condo was never treated as a possible crime scene.

By that evening, authorities had been contacted and her parents began distributing missing-person flyers with Jennifer’s photo.

More than a dozen years later, her parents are still looking for her.

The Video Of Her Car

Two days after Jennifer disappeared, someone who lived in an apartment complex a little over a mile from Jennifer’s condo noticed that a car parked outside their building resembled Jennifer’s 2004 black Chevy Malibu as had been shown on the news. Sure enough, it was Jennifer’s car.

Surveillance images showed a person dropping off her car and walking away at around 12 noon on January 24, about four hours after Jennifer would have been abducted while leaving her apartment for work.

Unfortunately, the surveillance camera was not video but rather snapshots taken every three seconds. There were three snapshots of the person who dropped off her car, but in every snapshot, the person’s face was obscured by bars from a gate outside the building.

Even though FBI and NASA assisted in investigating the photos, they were unable to even determine the person’s gender. The best they could tell is that they were short—somewhere between 5’3” and 5’5”. A reporter would later call the suspect “the luckiest person of interest ever.”

A police dog was able to trace a scent that led from the car back to Jennifer’s building, suggesting that the person who dropped off the car returned to the site of her abduction.

Suspect #1: Her Ex-Boyfriend

Police interviewed an ex-boyfriend of Jennifer’s who was openly distraught over their breakup, wanted to get back together again, and was reportedly upset that she’d just vacationed with a new beau. It was alleged that at one point after their breakup he drank himself “senseless” for two weeks and was “inconsolable.”

But after a thorough interrogation, police decided he had nothing to do with her disappearance.

Suspects #2: Construction Workers In Her Building

At the time of her disappearance, Jennifer’s building was undergoing major renovations and many of the construction workers were undocumented immigrants who were actually living in unoccupied condos on the premises while working there.

Jennifer had repeatedly told her family that many of the workers repeatedly sexually harassed and catcalled her.

The reason that some people suspect one or more of the construction workers is the fact that the sniffer dog had traced the person who dropped off her car right back to her building.

Police attempted to interview many of the 100 or so construction workers but turned up no leads. It also seems highly unlikely that one or more of the workers could have pulled off an abduction and murder without at least some of the other workers finding out.

Suspect #3: A Jealous Coworker

Investigators interviewed a coworker of Jennifer’s named Johnny Campos but concluded he was not guilty.

However, these facts are interesting:

  • Although a married man, other workers allege that Campos made it very clear that he desired a relationship with Jennifer but was rebuffed because not only did she have a boyfriend, she refused to date coworkers as a matter of policy.
  • A coworker named Adam said that a few days before Jennifer disappeared, Campos was upset she was dating her boyfriend rather than Campos.
  • Adam testified that he viewed an email between Kesse and Campos during which Campos reportedly was unhappy that she refused to date him.
  • He also says that when Campos saw an email that Adam had sent to Jennifer in which Adam told her she looked nice today, Campos grew agitated and asked Adam if he was sexually interested in her.
  • On January 23, the day she returned to work after her vacation, a coworker reportedly claims he overheard a conversation between Campos and Jennifer in which Campos was allegedly upset she went on vacation with her boyfriend, only for Jennifer to tell him what a wonderful time she’d had.
  • On January 24, the day of Jennifer’s disappearance, Campos didn’t show up for work until noon. He was reportedly agitated and excused his lateness by claiming he’d received a traffic ticket, but this was allegedly never verified.
  • The day after Jennifer’s disappearance, Campos and a coworker named Adam were talking about the case. Campos allegedly told Adam that “she’s likely eaten up by alligators already.”

To this day, Jennifer Kesse’s case remains unsolved and is one of the most mystifying high-profile missing-persons case in American history. Thought Catalog Logo Mark