ORLANDO – Drew Kesse, father of the young woman who went missing in Orlando in 2006, will formally announce on Friday that he’s starting a scholarship in his daughter’s name to benefit students who pursue careers in criminal justice.
“It’s just something that we think it’s time to do, and we think law enforcement needs help,” Kesse said. “This is what the scholarship is basically for.”
Kesse will make the announcement at University of Central Florida. Students majoring in criminal justice can apply for the Jennifer Kesse Criminal Justice Endowed Scholarship. Kesse outlined the scholarship and his hopes for it on Thursday when he appeared on “The Guetzloe Report,” host Doug Guetlzoe’s talk show on the Phoenix Network.
Twenty-four-year-old Jennifer Kesse had just purchased her first home and had a career as a financial analyst when on Jan. 24, 2006, she disappeared. She had spoken to her boyfriend over the phone on the night before she went missing. The next day she didn’t show up for a meeting at work or respond to phone calls or texts.
She was reported missing within four hours, and there were no clues as to her whereabouts until two days later, when her black Chevy Malibu was found about a mile from her condominium complex. There was no sign of trauma in the vehicle, or any signs of a struggle. Jennifer`s purse was never found, and her cell phone and credit cards never got used. Although the FBI came onto the case, it has not been solved.
“We’re still looking for leads on this situation” Guetzloe said. “This case, of course, is one that has riveted not just Central Florida but the entire nation.”
The family has a Web site, www.FindJenniferkesse.com, that continues to collect tips and information about her case.
“To this day,” the site notes, “we believe Jennifer was the victim of a crime – taken through the heinous act of abduction. The total vanishing of Jennifer has lasted until this day and has progressed little towards finding her or the person(s) responsible for this most cruel criminal act. We ask that Jennifer remains the main focus moving forward as usual as we continue desperately to find her. As we have maintained for five years, Jennifer is the victim, our family has been victimized. We know someone knows something.”
Jennifer’s family is urging anyone with information to call Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477 or the FBI at 1-866-838-1153.
“Next Monday will be five years,” Drew Kesse said. “We have no clue what happened. As of November, we were basically told by the FBI she is definitely gone. We don’t know where she has gone.”
What the family and authorities do have, he said, is surveillance video of a man who was seen dropping off Jennifer’s car.
“We do have videos of a suspect who dropped her car off at a very bad condo complex,” Kesse said, adding that the video shows the man wiping down the auto.
But he added, “We cannot find that person, either.”
“I have not been impressed by the police work involved in this case at all,” Guetzloe said. “This is just a horrific situation for you and your family.”
Kesse said he did hope to bring continued awareness of Jennifer’s disappearance and her case through the scholarship being announced tomorrow.
“We do not call it an anniversary at all – it’s a day in time, nothing more,” Kesse said. “But this year we have decided to honor Jennifer at UCF through a scholarship of $1,000 given to a Florida resident who is a graduate of criminal justice.”
To qualify for the scholarship, students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average, be a resident of Florida, and write a 500 word essay on how they would enhance the state’s Missing Persons law.
“It is a 501C3 corporation, so it is tax deductible,” Kesse said. “It will, in perpetuity, live on forever.”
“I think this is a tremendous dedication to Jennifer,” Guetzloe said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to you.”
Kesse said he hopes these future criminal justice graduates will one day help solve not just this, but many other, heartbreaking missing person’s cases.
As for his own family’s tormenting loss, he added, “We think we definitely will have answers. We just don’t know when.”
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