Overview of Jennifer Kesse
When an unknown man was seen parking Jennifer’s car in a parking lot the day after she vanished, investigators knew something was wrong. Did Jennifer know her abductor?
Jennifer Kesse was a fun-loving, responsible and career-minded young woman. She was born on May 20, 1981, to her parents, Drew and Joyce Kesse in New Jersey. She had a younger brother named Logan, and the Kesse family moved to Florida when Logan and Jennifer were a bit older. Many of Jennifer’s friends describe her as an incredibly loyal friend who would drop everything to support her friends whether it be for breakups or birthdays.
Jennifer attended the University of Central Florida and was living in Orlando. She had majored in finance and was offered a job as a project manager at a timeshare company where she had previously interned. Jennifer was thrilled to receive the job and within her first year was given three different promotions. These advancements in her career gave her the financial stability to purchase a brand-new condominium at 24 years old. The condo was located in a safe, gated community with a security guard which ultimately made her parents more comfortable with her living alone. The Kesse family took their safety very seriously following a traumatic robbery in their family home in New Jersey. At the time, Jennifer was in a serious relationship with Rob Allen, and the two had just recently returned from a vacation in St. Croix.
The day Jennifer went missing
Jennifer last spoke to her parents on January 23, 2006, around 10 pm. Jennifer spoke to her parents and her boyfriend while at her condo. The next morning, Jennifer did not show up to work - which was incredibly out of character. Jennifer was not the type of person to be late for work or skip work altogether, especially without communicating with her office. Her parents got a call from Jennifer’s office informing them that Jennifer never came to work. Within minutes of getting that call, her family made the two-hour drive to Orlando to check on her.
Upon arriving at her condo, the family noticed that her door was locked and she seemingly left as if it were a typical day. The only items missing from her apartment were her keys, purse, and phone. That evening, she was reported missing.
Jennifer is described as a 24-year-old woman with sandy blonde hair, green eyes, standing at 5'7" to 5'8" tall and weighing around 130 pounds. Jennifer has skin tags on the outside of her left hand, as well as birthmarks on her ribs, and one on the middle finger on her left hand. Kesse also has a cleft chin and a surgical scar on the inside of her left elbow. She has a tattoo of a shamrock on the left side of her buttock.
When her car was found
Two days later, Jennifer's car, a black Chevy Malibu, was found in the parking lot of another condo complex, roughly 1 mile away from hers. Investigators noted that there was no sign of a struggle in her car and that nothing had been stolen.
Further into the investigation, while looking into the condo complex where Jennifer's car was found, investigators found surveillance footage of an unknown individual parking Jennifer's car. According to the time stamp, the individual drove into the parking lot around 12 pm the day that Jennifer disappeared, and sat in her car for about 30 seconds, before exiting the car and walking away.
Six months after Jennifer's disappearance, Detective Joel Wright became the lead investigator into her disappearance. His theory on what happened to Jennifer is as follows "I believe Jennifer got ready for work. She showered, and got dressed. Went outside of her condo - locked the door on the way out. And made it as far as her car. After that, I believe she was abducted."
Almost three years later, the same detective continued to interview people while taking a fresh look at the case. A former housekeeper of the condo complex explained to him that the unknown individual on surveillance footage looked a lot like someone named "Chino, "because of his hair, clothing, and the way that he had walked. While looking further into "Chino, investigators learned that he was a former maintenance worker at Jennifer's condo complex. He had done some work inside Jennifer's condo the week prior to her disappearance. Chino was serving time in prison for a statutory rape charge when investigators were able to track him down. When interviewed by detectives, Chino stated that he did not know anything regarding Jennifer's disappearance, and he later passed a polygraph.
Where the case stands today
As of 2016, Jennifer had been missing for 10 years and was declared dead by the state of Florida. In 2018, Jennifer’s parents sued the Orlando Police Department for a copy of the case file, reaching a settlement in March of 2019. This case file included over 16,000 pages of documents and over 67 hours of video and audiotapes. As a result of this settlement and lawsuit, the Orlando Police Department declared that they were no longer leading the investigation into Jennifer's Disappearance, allowing her family to formally take over the investigation.
The Kesse’s continue their search for their daughter, and there is currently a $10,000 reward for information regarding Jennifer's disappearance, as well as a Go Fund Me page to help raise money to put towards the investigation.