true crime

Jennifer Kesse vanished 14 years ago. A CCTV 'glitch' means she might never be found.

On the morning of January 24, 2006, Jennifer Kesse got ready for work in her Orlando, Florida apartment. That morning, however, she never arrived at work.

It was completely out of character for the 24-year-old financial analyst, so the alarm was raised by workmates and her family.

Building managers found the shower in Jennifer’s bathroom was still damp. Her make up strewn across the counter. Her work clothes laid out on her unmade bed.

But the situation offered no other leads, no other answers. Jennifer seemed to have vanished without a trace.

Listen to Mamamia’s True Crime Conversations, which features interviews with experts on the world’s most fascinating, terrifying and mysterious crimes. Post continues below. 

It’s been 14 years since Jennifer went missing, and her parents are continuing their never-ending search.

Drew and Joyce Kesse, Jennifer’s parents, believe the police at the time missed crucial information. For example, the new Nine West work shoes Jennifer had excitedly told her friends about, that would have matched the work clothes she’d laid out on her bed, were missing.

“We were a close-knit family. Always in contact with each other,” Jennifer’s father, Drew Kesse, told Dateline in a 2006 interview, already suspicious that information was being overlooked by investigators.

Jennifer’s family created the Facebook profile, Help find missing Jennifer Kesse, an active page followed by more than 8000 people, where the public is encouraged to share information and theories.

Because the fact of the matter is, even 14 years later, they are still no closer to finding out what happened to Jennifer.

At the time of her disappearance, Jennifer was in a relationship with her boyfriend, Rob Allen, who lived in Fort Lauderdale. The couple had met the year earlier, in January 2005, and made their long-distance relationship work with several phone calls a day.

They also regularly travelled to see each other. In fact, two days before Jennifer went missing, they had returned from the Caribbean. Jennifer had stayed with Rob on the night of Sunday, January 22, and had driven straight to work from there.

On January 23, during her work day and after, Jennifer spoke to her parents, her 21-year-old brother, Logan, and her boyfriend Rob.

“I’m forever grateful for that last conversation I had with Jenn,” Joyce said at the time. “I hold onto that memory, her voice, and her laugh. And I have the hope that I’ll hear it again.”

As for Logan, he had stayed at Jennifer’s vacated apartment while she was away, and he spoke to his sister about his friend’s mobile phone which had been left there. He never imagined it would be the last time he would speak to her.

ADVERTISEMENT

A 10pm phone call between Rob and Jennifer to say goodnight would be their last time speaking.

Rob called Jennifer the next morning before work, but knowing she had an important meeting, he thought she was simply busy. By lunchtime, he was concerned, as were Jennifer’s co-workers, who knew it was unlike her to not make contact. They decided to contact the Kesses.

“I called and I called and for the first time since Jenn was a teenager, it went straight to voicemail,” Drew said. “In that second, I knew something was wrong.”

After hearing from Jennifer’s building manager that her black Chevy Malibu was gone, they decided to drive to her apartment with Logan.

The managers also let themselves into Jennifer’s home; where they found typical signs of a person getting ready for work and nothing amiss – apart from no Jennifer, and no handbag, keys, wallet or phone.

It was as if she’d simply got up and got ready for work; except, she didn’t arrive as she usually did.

From the outset, Jennifer’s parents felt that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Orlando Police Department weren’t concerned because Jennifer was an adult. They did trace her phone and ATM cards, and found no information. It was then concluded that Jennifer had most likely been abducted on her way to her car, or work.

Rob also decided he was needed in Orlando to help search for his missing girlfriend.

Luckily, all of those closest to Jennifer were ruled out as suspects immediately.

Even now, more than a decade later, Rob and the Kesses remain close.

“He gave his life searching for her as much as we did,” Drew has said. “He’s part of our family and always will be.”

Rob did manage to eventually move on with his life. He’s now married with two children.

Back in 2006, two days after Jennifer went missing, her car was found a few kilometres from her home in car park of a building. But the car was wiped clean of any evidence.

ADVERTISEMENT

CCTV footage of the car park did show a person near Jennifer’s car – but a face couldn’t be identified. It was a frustrating development, since that person became the main person of interest in the case, but was impossible to identify.

jennifer kesse
CCTV Footage. Image: Youtube.

Authorities believed the case leads had gone cold; but Jennifer’s family never stopped searching for her.

They believe that one of the building workers doing renovations at Jennifer’s apartment complex must have seen something – but that investigators didn’t follow up with them. In 2018, the Kesses applied to gain access to the case files held by the Orlando Police Department.

In 2019, they were given more than 14,000 pages of electronic files. The family hired a legal team and their own private investigator, Mike Torretta, to comb through the evidence, in search of answers.

They have uncovered a seven-year gap in the records, where nothing was done, despite at the time being told the case was ongoing.

Finally, after taking matters into their own hands, the Kesses found something. On November 8, 2019, a tip from a woman in 2006 was found buried in the case notes. The witness in 2006 had seen a man throw a large, heavy, rolled up carpet into Lake Fischer.

The Kesses paid for a search of the lake, and cadaver dogs detected something of note. Although nothing was found on the first search, the Kesses want to do it again; because at the same time, they’ve also discovered a piece of the carpet from the apartment across the hall from Jennifer’s, which was being renovated, was reported missing.

To the Kesses’, that’s hope, even if it results in the worst news about their daughter who is missing, and so missed.

Feature Image: Facebook/YouTube.


Sign up for the "Mamamia Daily" newsletter. Get across the stories women are talking about today.


00:00 / ???