Family of missing Jennifer Kesse hopes DNA will revive cold case

Ms Kesse, 26, disappeared from her condo in Orlando, Florida on 24 January 2006

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Sunday 24 September 2023 21:53 BST
Jennifer Kesse disappearance: Orlando Police botched case, says father

The family of Jennifer Kesse, who disappeared in 2006, hopes that DNA testing and new police partners will crack open the cold case.

Ms Kesse, 26, disappeared from her condo in Orlando, Florida on 24 January.

After her disappearance, her home was discovered with outfits laid out on the bed, and her black 2006 Chevy Malibu found at a nearby apartment complex.

Jennifer Kesse, from Orlando, Florida, disappeared in 2006

The only person of interest was an individual who has never been identified, spotted on the apartment complex’s security system. Police haven’t had a major break in the case in years.

Ms Kesse’s uncle, Bill Gilmour, spoke at CrimeCon, a true-crime event in the city this weekend, where he said that he hopes DNA evidence taken from the car could point police towards new leads.

He also claimed the Orlando Police Department (OPD) originally told the family that no DNA evidence had been gathered. They later learned through a lawsuit the DNA had been collected.

“After my sister and brother sued them and got the records from the OPD and had their own team comb through the records — some 15-18,000 records — it said that they collected DNA in the car, which they originally said that they did not," Mr Gilmour said.

The lawsuit also yielded images of the car which appeared to show “signs of struggle,” he said.

"We were never aware of that either. So it’s just, it’s just disheartening,” he added.

(The family settled with the OPD in 2019.)The Independent has contacted the police department for comment.

In 2022, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement cold case unit took over the case.

“After years in the hands of our private investigator who did incredible work, FDLE will now take over the investigation and will essentially start from the beginning,” Drew Kesse, Jennifer’s father, wrote on a GoFundMe page.

“We have never felt so hopeful and optimistic. This is Jennifer’s best chance at being found.”

The Independent has contacted FDLE for comment on whether they will test the DNA evidence.

A missing persons flyer for Jennifer Kesse

Mr Kesse said he had sold his house and paid “monstrous legal fees and PI bills” to keep the search for Jennifer alive.

The missing woman’s uncle penned a book about her disappearance. In it, he writes how Jennifer was concerned about construction workers in her building staying in vacant condos and at one point filed a formal complaint to her property’s management company.

"Anyone who has bought a new home knows there will be continuing involvement with the developer and maintenance staff for some time. Unfortunately, Jenn lived alone and felt like she was being watched and subjected to unwelcome stares," he wrote, Fox News reports.

Family members said they had little reason to suspect Jennifer was in danger. She was in a healthy relationship with her boyfriend and worked at a resort in Ocoee, Florida, they said.

"What we knew at that time was whatever happened was totally out of character for Jennifer. She was predictable in a good way. She was intelligent, always conscious of her surroundings and planned for her safety," Mr Gilmour wrote.

"Those who knew Jennifer would agree she didn’t show any signs of discontent with her life, relationships, or work environment."

Ms Kesse’s boyfriend, Rob Allen, lived several hours away from the site of the disappearance and was cleared as a suspect early on by police.

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