Here are the basics of the case. She disappeared from Orlando on January 24, 2006 sometime in the morning (her last phone call was the previous evening at 9:57pm, but based on the condition of her apartment — clothes laid out, etc. — it’s likely she was not abducted before the morning). At around noon on the same day, a mysterious figure drove her car to another apartment complex about 1.2 miles east, sat in the car for 32 seconds, and then walked away. The direct video camera aiming at the walk route was on a time lapse, so thus you don’t get a very clear shot:
It will be nine years this winter on the Kesse disappearance, and there haven’t been any great leads yet. There was a belief that James Hataway, now in prison on a different abduction, could have been the suspect; he’s about 5-10 (height) and the suspect on video is probably not much taller than 5-5, so ultimately little came of that.
The two most promising — relatively-speaking — avenues are as follows:
1. Based on the posture and walk gait of the suspect in the video above, perhaps they have a military background. They do appear to be dressed in all white — which is traditionally what a painter, construction worker or other craftsman might wear — but it’s theoretically possible that a member of the military could be in all-white (the Navy does that, although I doubt this guy — if it’s a guy — would be in full Navy uniform after dumping a car).
2. There’s been a lot of discussion about the lack of safety at Jennifer’s apartment complex. At the time of her disappearance, the complex was being worked on, and numerous workers were around throughout the day. There’s also this:
When my son-in-law moved into the Mosaic apartment complex before they went to condominiums, he asked me to come over to watch the truck while he and the driver moved his belongings into his new place. I backed my car a few spaces from where the truck was parked so I would have a good view of the rear of the truck. It didn’t take long for me to understand his request. There were two men that appeared – I don’t remember where they came from – but suddenly there they were. My first impression: local creeps. One was on foot and the other rode his bike back and forth on the sidewalk behind my car, making it difficult to keep my eye on both of them at once. And I didn’t want to. I kept my eyes firmly glued to the one on foot. The one on foot was dark-haired, on the shorter side, maybe 5’6” to 5’9”, 40s-50s with an evil looking face that was frightening in its dark scowl. Even though I don’t usually scare easily, I remember thinking, “Wow! No way would I want to meet this guy in a dark alley at night!” Even though my car doors were locked, even though it was daylight, I still felt fearful of him. He looked like pure evil. I believe the other was younger, also dark haired, and for some reason I remember thinking, “a bit old to be riding a bike” – perhaps late teens, early twenties? They proceeded to move back and forth around the truck in a predatory manner, scoping out the contents, with no regard whatsoever for the fact that I was sitting right there in my car.
I called my son-in-law who thankfully appeared with the truck driver. The two men seemed to disappear as quickly as they came after that. What occurred to me then, and again after Jennifer’s abduction was this: I was so distracted by the man on foot, that I hardly noticed the fellow on the bike riding back and forth. I was distracted. And even though I consider myself a streetwise New Yorker and had seen my share of predators, the ruse used by these two men had worked on me! They had gotten fairly close – certainly in close enough proximity to do something had I been outside my car and they had wanted to.
When the photos of the POI became available and several sites enlarged and enhanced them, I noticed right away the left pant leg that seemed to be strapped – like the boys in my neighborhood used to do when we rode bikes as kids. I couldn’t help but wonder: Is this the same fellow I saw that day my son-in-law moved in? Were the two men (one on foot/one on bicycle) working together? Anyone seeing the man on foot would be put off by his evil looking face, as I had been and definitely distracted momentarily for the other man on bike to get close, as he was able to get close to me, riding back and forth behind my car.
Others believe the construction worker theory as well, but because of the sheer number of workers, police weren’t able to contact them all.
They did bring in bloodhounds on this case, and the track-back was from her found car to her apartment; this conveys the idea that something happened within that range, or that the man in question on the video (again, presuming it’s a man) has some tie back to her original complex. This was also mentioned on that same CNN show from a criminal profiler:
But when you use somebody else`s vehicle and that is found, that`s going to be a crime scene. So my guess is this guy lived in condominium or was working in the condominium. That`s why he took her car, took it someplace, did something and then dropped it off and went back where he had to go because he either works or he lives there. So I think the police do have a focus. They can go right to that condominium, ask everybody who do they know, what psychopathic creature is running around that condominiums that people know, living there or working there, that might have abducted Jennifer when she came out of that condominium and went to her car.
The 48 Hours report, as you can see above, makes an attempt to tie it with the disappearance of Tara Grinstead in Georgia; both Kesse and Grinstead were attractive, well-educated women who disappeared in similar contexts. There are other similar cases in the Orlando area, as detailed here and here. They could be isolated incidents, or there could be a serial situation here.
Here’s an interesting post from this site “Blink on Crime” (take it with a grain of salt, admittedly, as with most things above). First, it sheds a little more light on the potential events of the morning Kesse went missing — the week prior, she had been on a cruise with her boyfriend/fiancee, and her younger brother (Logan Kesse) was staying at her condo with some friends. One of them, Travis Bourguignon, had lost his cell phone; Jennifer Kesse was mailing it back to him that morning, which may have caused her to leave the house looking for a small mailbox somewhere. (Apparently, this all led to “street talk” several weeks after her disappearance that she was still alive and being held somewhere, so much so that the police did a Sunday night raid.)
Back to “Blink on Crime,” though. It talks about Johnny Albert Campos, a co-worker of Kesse’s, who had asked her out a few times. Then there’s this:
When Campos showed up for work around noon on Tuesday January 24th appearing overtly nervous and pacing around, Frank thought he was acting strangely, but it did not escalate to “scary” until a few hours later where it was learned through the grapevine that Jenn Kesse might have been abducted. Campos is a supervisor and therefore not required to keep a timecard.
If you read through the comments on this post, there appears to be ties to a Ponzi Scheme that perhaps Campos knew about, but Kesse didn’t, and there are varying aspects of deeds/holdings that Campos may have. You can learn a bit more about the supposed Ponzi scheme here.
Here’s the map showing Jennifer’s apartment complex to the complex where her car was found; as you can see, it’s pretty short, distance-wise. In January in Orlando, whomever dropped off the car could easily have walked the mile back if necessary.
Now, I’m not sure if the HQ of Central Florida Investments — where Kesse and Campos both worked — was the same in January 2006 as it is now, but if you Google Map Huntington complex (where her car was found) to CFI (where they all worked), it’s .9 miles. If the car was dropped at high noon and Campos’ co-workers say he got to work “panic’ed” around 12pm, it’s possible he dropped the car. 0.9 miles can be walked in about 12-15 minutes if you’re hitting lights.
Any theories? Leave ’em in the comments.