Perhaps the worst thing that could happen to a member of your family is for them to go missing without a trace. The question of what happened to them will never go away, and in some ways, knowing they have passed could be kinder than knowing nothing. Jennifer Kesse is one of thousands of missing people, but 13 years after her disappearance, her family is no closer to knowing what happened to her. This is her story.
Their worst nightmare
Jennifer Kesse lived in Orlando, Florida, and had the rest of her life to look forward to.
She was 24 years old when she went missing in 2006, and since then there has been no evidence to suggest she will ever be found.
Just a normal day
There were no signs shown to Jennifer’s family to suggest she was planning on running away at all. Jennifer lived on her own in an apartment complex, and it’s thought on the day she went missing that she was on her way to work before being intercepted.
The problem with this disappearance is the fact that there is barely any evidence to give detectives a clue of what happened. If someone took her, they managed to do it without leaving anything traceable to them.
Living in a condo
Jennifer had recently moved in to the Mosaic condo in Florida. Her apartment was a three-hour drive away from her place of work, but on January 24, 2006, she failed to show up to her job.
It wasn’t like Jennifer to skip out on work, especially unannounced, so her company, Central Florida Investments, made contact with her parents. Jennifer had spent a long weekend with her boyfriend and friends, but after returning to work the following Monday, come Tuesday, she was gone.
Knowing something was wrong
Her family knew there was something wrong the moment they realized that Jennifer didn’t show up for work. It was just so unlike her, and there had to be a serious reason for her to not make contact with anyone.
Jennifer had a long drive to her place of work, and typically on that journey she would call her boyfriend, but not on that morning. Her boyfriend only discovered she didn’t show up for work when he phoned to see if she got there.
The night before her disappearance, Jennifer worked late at the office before heading back home in the evening. She called several members of her family on the three-hour trip back home, and the last person she called was her boyfriend.
Jennifer did not call him on the way to work the next morning. It was a sign that something was wrong, so Jennifer’s family made a trip to her condo to see if they could find out what was wrong.
Beginning the search
Jennifer’s family arrived at her condo to discover she had at least been in the apartment that morning. Her shower showed evidence it had recently been used, and Jennifer’s clothes had been laid out on the bed.
This was something that was a part of her morning routine, so it was a good indication that Jennifer had been home on the morning of her disappearance. Her family tried to reach her on her cell phone, and through her computer, but their attempts were in vain.
Calling the police
With no luck in finding Jennifer through their own efforts, her family felt the need to contact the police. There was also evidence that Jennifer had slept in her bed, so she really seemed to have gone missing when she stepped out of the door and toward her car.
Jennifer’s car was not at her condo complex, which was strange because she was not at work, so there was nowhere else it could be. The police were contacted, but that was just the start of the search party.
Trying to track her down
By the afternoon of the first day she went missing, Jennifer’s friends and family had sprung into action. They were already plastering fliers around the town she lived in the hopes that someone might have spotted something that could help to find her.
If someone had seen something it could be critical in finding Jennifer, but it was as though she had completely disappeared off the face of the Earth. Then a few days later, something turned up which made things even worse.
Her car was found
Two days after Jennifer had gone missing, her car turned up just a little over a mile from her condo complex. The person who informed the police that the car had turned up said it had been abandoned there a couple of days ago.
Once they saw the appeal for information about Jennifer, and her vehicle was included in the pictures, the person wanted to help. While it didn’t bring Jennifer back, it was the first step in trying to do just that.
Piecing the evidence together
Jennifer’s car had been abandoned at a different condo complex, and if the police were lucky, they would have some surveillance footage to check out. The footage of two different security cameras gave the Orlando Police Department some very grainy footage to work with.
What it showed was someone drive Jennifer’s car into a parking spot, sit there for 30 seconds, then get out of the car. They then walked away from Jennifer’s car without ever looking back.
Impossible to tell
The person of interest who drove Jennifer’s car was unidentifiable from the security footage. Unfortunately the quality of the footage was just too difficult to make clear who the person getting out of the car was.
The police department called in some help from the FBI in at least trying to determine the height of this person. They were estimated to be between 5’3” and 5’5” but the footage couldn’t even help determine the gender of this person. NASA was also assisting in making the footage clearer, but couldn’t.
Not a robbery
The police were pretty confident that Jennifer’s disappearance was not in connection to a robbery. Her car was wiped for prints and evidence, and it was clear that there were valuables in the car that this person of interest chose to ignore.
The circumstances were strange, but that little evidence there was seemed to point to Jennifer being taken or harmed because the person was interested in her, not her stuff. A latent print was taken from the car, meaning the person it belonged to wasn’t on the database.
Trying their best
The Orlando Police Department didn’t have much to go on, but they did their best to track down Jennifer. Once her car turned up they used bloodhounds to try and track down the scent of either Jennifer, or the person who last drove her car.
After being given a good sniff around Jennifer’s car, the bloodhounds did their job and led police officers right to the missing woman’s condo. The dogs had either picked up that the person driving Jennifer’s car was connected to her disappearance, or they smelled Jennifer.
Along with the latent fingerprint there was a small DNA fiber, but both were not connected to anyone known by the police. Because the car was so ‘clean,’ officers figured that whoever had taken Jennifer’s car had ensured they wiped it down before dumping it.
They had somehow managed to leave no trace that could lead Jennifer’s disappearance back to them. The police were at a loss, but they couldn’t just sit back and do nothing while Jennifer’s family was desperate for some news.
A search party was sent out near Jennifer’s condo, and where her car had turned up. Police officers performed a grid search of the area, but there was no sign that Jennifer was left outside in the woods or anything.
Along with Jennifer, the only items of hers that were missing were her personal items, like her iPod, cell phone, keys, purse, and briefcase. Investigators tried to locate her cell phone in the aftermath of her disappearance, but with no luck as it was presumed to be turned off.
Who did it?
While there was very little evidence, someone had to know something more about Jennifer’s disappearance. The police needed to question as many people as possible to draw out a list of suspects. Firstly Jennifer’s ex-partner was thought to be involved after reportedly being upset at their break up and wanting to reconcile things.
However, after an interrogation, investigators ruled out Jennifer’s ex-partner from their investigation. There were still more people to speak with though, and the police looked a little closer to home.
Looking at her boyfriend
In many cases of people disappearing, or being attacked, it is often someone they know. The police had to interrogate Jennifer’s boyfriend, but as he lived three hours away, his alibi checked out. There was no obvious candidate for Jennifer’s disappearance.
Then the police decided to take another close look at Jennifer’s home life, and that’s when a new set of suspects were created. There was construction work going on at Jennifer’s complex when she went missing, and she had complained about several of the workers heckling her.
Trying to make sense
The workers at Jennifer’s condo were not native speakers of English which made it next to impossible for the police to communicate with them. It seems that there was no way to interrogate these suspects better, so the only reason the officers had to suspect any of them was the heckling.
Jennifer’s family and boyfriend had mentioned the way some of the laborers would catcall her, but the police didn’t find sufficient evidence to pursue this any further.
Her working relationships
The police took Jennifer’s work computer to their forensics department and discovered that one of her coworkers had been trying to pursue a relationship with her. This coworker was a manager, but Jennifer had told them that she wasn’t interested.
She had a boyfriend, but Jennifer mentioned that she was not in favor of having a relationship in the workplace. This manager was interviewed multiple times by police officers, but they were also deemed to be unconnected to her disappearance.
Taking over the case
After four years of searching, Jennifer’s case was handed over to the FBI in 2010. It had been four long years of not knowing what had happened to their daughter for Jennifer’s family. Sadly the FBI was also unable to find Jennifer, despite all of their efforts.
In 2014 the most recent search party for Jennifer was conducted but with no luck. The FBI has kept Jennifer on its missing persons website as the bureau hasn’t given up hope of finding her.
Their own hands
After 13 years of trying to find their missing relative, Jennifer’s family decided to take things into their own hands. The family filed an appeal to take over the Orlando Police Department’s file on their daughter so they could hire a private detective.
The family won that right to gain their daughter’s report and managed to obtain the unredacted information. It was an extreme measure, but the police had been looking for so long without any results, and it was time for a fresh perspective.
Possibility of never knowing
The family hoped their private investigator would begin their search for Jennifer from the original tips the police received when she first went missing. There is a chance they will never discover what happened to their daughter, but now they have someone on the case they can communicate directly with.
Jennifer’s parents are hopeful that if their private investigator can come at the case with a new perspective, then some new clues might be found. In March 2019, Jennifer’s family finally got their hands on her police file.
Jennifer’s family won their court case in March 2019, and five months later are still fighting to get full access to the police reports. That is making it incredibly difficult for them to begin looking at their daughter and sister’s case with fresh eyes.
Once that battle with the Orlando Police Department is over, they can finally put all their efforts into finding out what happened to Jennifer. As of October 2019, Jennifer is still missing, and the story of what happened to her is still unknown.