Jennifer Kesse was a successful, hard-working, bubbly, family oriented 24 year old when she vanished January 24th, 2006.
Jennifer attended the University of Central Florida in Orlando, was in the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. She graduated with a degree in finance in 2003 before starting a job at Central Florida Investments Timeshare (Westgate Resorts) as a financial manager. She was the youngest employee in the company to earn a promotion to management.
Life for Jennifer was going great. She was in a relationship with Rob Allen, she had just purchased a condo in November 2005, she loved her job and had great friends. By all accounts she seemed to be happy. She was said to be self confident, independent, responsible, loyal and fun.
Jennifer and her boyfriend Rob had just gotten back from a vacation in St. Croix Sunday, January 22nd. She decided to stay at his home in Fort Lauderdale that night, about a 3 hour drive from Orlando. While away on vacation, Jennifer agreed to let her brother along with a few friends, Travis and Matt stay at her condo as long as he promised to clean up.
Monday morning, January 23rd, Jennifer drove straight to work from Rob’s house. She was last seen leaving work around 6 p.m. While driving the 12 mile stretch home Jennifer called her father, something she did often as she was close to her parents, Joyce and Drew Kesse, and younger brother, Logan. She also talked to a few friends.
At some point Jennifer talked with her brother who let her know Travis, a long time family friend, left his work phone at Jen’s condo over the weekend and asked if she could mail it back. Jennifer said she would mail the phone from work Tuesday morning.
Later that evening, at 9:57 p.m. Jennifer talked to Rob on the phone, she told him she was in bed. They had a minor argument as both of them were struggling with the long distance relationship but neither wanted to move. While on the phone, there was a knock on the door, Jennifer looked out the peephole and said it was her upstairs neighbor but did not answer the door. They said their goodbyes and hung up. That would be the last time anyone heard from Jennifer.
The morning of January 24th would be a morning full of mystery. Usually Jennifer would call or text Rob on her way to work but that didn’t happen and when he tried to call her between 8 and 9 a.m. her phone went straight to voicemail. Rob chalked it up to her being distracted about an important meeting she had at work that day.
Around 11 a.m. when Jennifer had still not shown up her employers called her parents as it was very uncharacteristic of her to not call in if she was going to be late or miss a day of work. The Kesse’s called Jennifer’s mobile phone and home phone but only got her voicemail. They called Rob who said he hadn’t heard from her that morning. They immediately knew something was wrong.
Drew contacted the property manager at the complex to check on Jen. The manager called back and stated Jen’s car, a white 2004 Chevy Malibu, was not in it’s assigned parking spot. Concerned that maybe she had been involved in an accident, her father started calling hospitals in the area, she was not at any.
Her parents, Logan and his friend Travis all drove over to Jen’s condo from Bradenton, about a 2 hour drive with Joyce and Drew in one car and Logan and Travis in another.
The condo complex Jen lived at, Mosaic, was previously an apartment complex but was going through renovations and construction was still underway for most of the condos so only a few people lived in the complex. Many of the construction workers were in the US illegally and staying in the unfinished condos.
Jennifer had previous expressed concern to her family and friends about the construction workers on the property. They would frequently catcall, whistle, stare at her and harrass her.
Logan and Travis, arrived at the complex about 15 minutes before her parents and Rob arrived shortly after. It was noted that Jennifer’s condo was locked, which could only be locked from the outside with the key, and all the lights were off.
Logan also noticed the condo across from Jennifer’s was undergoing construction and unlocked so he searched inside. He did not find Jennifer. He did however notice the condo was missing the carpet but that could have simply been because it was being renovated.
Everything indicated Jennifer had gotten up, showered, and got ready for work that morning. Her pajamas were on the bathroom floor, her glasses were on the counter and her contact case empty. There were clothes laid out on her bed like she was choosing an outfit for work. There was a towel draped over the dryer in the laundry room and the shower was still wet.
Jennifer’s cell phone, along with Travis’s phone, her briefcase for work, a purse, keys, and her ‘favorite’ 3″ snake skin heels were missing. She usually carried mace on her keychain that her father had given her and her friends but that was found on her counter, she most likely took it off before her trip to St. Croix since you cannot carry it on a plane.
When her parents realized that Jennifer was not at home or work and could still not get ahold her, they contacted police, who said Jennifer was an adult and could have left by her own free will. Her parents however knew this was not like Jennifer.
By 5 p.m. they were standing at an intersection near her apartment holding a large flyer with her picture and many of her friends were passing out flyers.
It wasn’t until 2 days later that they would be given some clues, which resulted in more questions. On January 26th, 2006, Jennifer’s car was reported to be parked at an apartment complex, Huntington on the Green, just 1.2 miles from her condo. It had been parked there since approximately noon on January 24th.
Inside her car they found a DVD player bluckled up in the back seat that Rob had given her, flip flops, a car charger, an exercise ball, and her mail key. The police did not believe robbery was a motive.
The only forensic evidence gathered from the car was a latent print and a small DNA fiber. It was also noted that the driver’s seat was pushed all the way back.
The police investigated the area around Jennifer’s car and brought in a bloodhound named Bo. Bo tracked the scent in the driver’s seat directly to the rear stairwell of Jennifer apartment near a pond before losing the trace. That area was searched by dogs and people on horseback but nothing was found.
Everyone was hopeful when it was discovered there was surveillance video that captured Jennifer’s car being parked, someone sitting inside for approximately 30 seconds and then walking away. This person would become a person of interest. However, he or she would also be dubbed the “luckiest POI ever”.
At this point police started conducting interviews with family and friends to see if anyone had a motive to abduct her. Rob was ruled out as a suspect as he had an alibi and was hours away.
The FBI and NASA were called in to help determine the person’s gender and size but they could not tell a gender and were only able to say the person was approximately 5’3″ to 5’5″.
It should be noted that the police have never processed Jennifer’s condo as they said that the family had contaminated it by staying there while they were looking for Jennifer. Her family did find a blue Banana Republic v-neck men’s sweater in her hamper that was never taken in for examination but the family still has it.
You see, even though they had the surveillance video, the surveillance camera that captured this person walking away took pictures at 3 second intervals and in each picture the POI’s fence is hidden behind a gate post. None of her family or friends were able to identify who it could be.
(You can watch the POI video here.)
Jennifer’s ex boyfriend, Matt, who visited Logan at Jen’s condo while she was away was also questioned as it was said he was still upset about their breakup. He was ruled out however and the family believe he had nothing to do with Jennifer’s disappearance and still maintain a relationship with him.
Police had a hard time questioning the construction workers due to most of them being undocumented and hard to trace. It has been said that the day after Jennifer’s disappearance most of the construction workers had left the site.
The landscape company was questioned and they said they did not recall seeing Jennifer’s car in her parking spot Tuesday morning when they arrived sometime between 7:30 and 8 a.m. It’s been reported that Jennifer usually left for work between 7:30-7:45.
There was a security guard at the gate entrance to the complex but due to all the construction most of the vehicles coming and going were either not written down or written down with the wrong license plate. A lot of the time the gate was also left open for the construction workers.
Since they had no other leads, police started questioning her co-workers, they also took her work computer in for forensic investigation. Through this they found that one of her managers had romantic feelings that were not reciprocated by Jen as she did not believe in dating co-workers.
Her father mentioned a phone call he and Jennifer had one time where she asked him how to nicely tell a co-worker she was not interested in a relationship, his advice was to take them out to lunch and just explain that she doesn’t date co-workers and she was already in a committed relationship.
The co-worker, Johnny Campos, was also late to work the day of Jennifer’s disappearance. It was rumored that it was because of a speeding ticket but records show he received that ticket a week before Jennifer went missing. Nothing more ever came from that either.
Orlando Police order a ‘ping study’ for the 23rd and 24th of January to see where her phone had been. It was noted that one of the cell towers near her complex was down so her phone had to ping at a further tower and she did not get good reception at her complex.
In a podcast episode of Unconcluded, Drew said that police told him they believe Jennifer was driving away from her condo Monday night after her conversation with Rob near a ‘shady’ neighborhood. The area has never been released to the public but the Kesses’ vehemently disagree that Jennifer would be in that area or that she would leave her condo that late on a work night. Orlando PD’s response to that was “You don’t know your daughter as well as you think you do.”
In May 2007 Jennifer’s boss, David Siegel, put up a million dollar reward for Jennifer’s safe return with an expiration date of July 4th. Nothing ever came from that.
Drew also said that police told him both Jennifer and Travis’s phones were powered down around 10:40pm, January 23rd. Drew and Joyce stand firm that Jennifer would never turn her phone off at night as she used it as an alarm clock.
On May 2nd, 2008 the parents of Jennifer Kesse and the parents of Tiffany Sessions would have a bill passed; “The Jennifer Kesse and Tiffany Sessions Missing Persons Act”, it would reform the way adult missing persons cases are dealt with in Florida.
Jennifer’s parents have always been her biggest advocates, spending their live savings to search for her, and have often mentioned their disappointment with how Jennifer’s case was handled. On October 2nd, 2017 they retained a law firm to file a public records request with OPD for all the information related to Jennifer’s disappearance.
In June 2010 the FBI would take over Jennifer’s case after police said they had exhausted all leads. Agents reviewed the evidence gathered by Orlando Police and handed the case back over in February 2011 with recommendations on what to do next.
For years the police investigated tips, planned searches, brought in other agencies but they have never named a suspect, identified the person on the surveillance video or found any sign of where Jennifer could be and what happened to her.
Even with the lack of tips and evidence the Orlando Police Department refused to classify Jennifer’s case as cold.
In January 2018 for the 12 year anniversary of Jennifer’s disappearance, the OPD held a press conference to announce a new detective would be dedicated to Jennifer’s case and review all of the data collected. They also revealed a Lynx bus with Jennifer’s picture and a picture the person of interest on the surveillance camera wrapped around the bus and offered a $15,000 reward for information.
The department responded on November 3rd, 2017 by sending one page of Jennifer’s missing persons affidavit and denied the rest claiming it was still an active investigation. An attorney for the city said the department could go through and redact all the files to hand over to the Kesse’s but it would cost them around $18,600.
At the press conference, Logan publicly asked the department to hand over the records they had. The family also revealed that they had hired their own private investigator.
On December 10th, 2018 Drew and Joyce filed a lawsuit against OPD asking the department to release the information they had gathered, unredacted or show why they could not, and to reimburse the family for all costs related to their repeated records requests.
The civil complaint alleged that OPD had breached it’s obligation to comply with Florida and Orange County records law and continued to call the case “active” even they there were no new leads.
March 21st, 2019 the family settled the lawsuit in exchange to get the entire unredacted records. It would come at a cost though, $18,648.24 to be exact. The family has received more then 14,000 pages of electronic files and dozens of hours of video from the Orlando Police Department.
To date, police have not released the names of any suspects or persons of interest. None of Jennifer’s belongings have been found since her disappearance. Her bank records show no usage and her nor Travis’s phones have pinged since the night of January 23rd, 2006.
The one thing that is clear in this case is that Jennifer was abducted. There has been a lot of speculation over the years about who, when and where it happened her abduction happened but nothing has ever been confirmed.
Jennifer’s family have a website set up for her – http://jenniferkesse.com/
We also have a discussion for Jennifer in our group, come join us – https://www.facebook.com/groups/TrueCrimeSociety/