On January 24, 2006, 24-year-old Jennifer Kesse vanished from her Orlando, Florida condo without a trace. 17 years later, Jennifer’s case remains unsolved, but her loved ones refuse to let her story fade into obscurity.
Jennifer was an accomplished young woman who worked as a finance manager. She lived at Mosaic at Millenia, a luxury condominium, owned her own car, was in a loving, long-term relationship, and had a busy social life. Sadly, it all came to a bitter end that cold winter morning.
Jennifer was last seen on CCTV footage leaving her condo at 6 am. She had just returned from a trip to St. Croix with her boyfriend, Rob Allen, and had planned to go to work that day. When she failed to show up for work or answer her phone, loved ones grew concerned and reported her missing.
The police investigation began with a search of Jennifer’s condo, where they found no signs of a struggle or forced entry; the front door was locked. It was determined that she was likely attacked when she got to her black Chevy Malibu in the condominium parking lot, and forced inside.
Jennifer’s vehicle was found two days later, abandoned at a nearby apartment complex. It was parked crookedly and had been wiped clean of fingerprints and DNA evidence, however, there was a large imprint on the hood, as though someone had been thrown on it during a struggle. Her phone and purse were also missing and have never been found.
As the investigation continued, more clues emerged. A witness reported seeing Jennifer’s car swerving near the exit of the complex and noticed what appeared to be two people fighting over the steering wheel.
Shockingly, surveillance footage showed an unknown person parking Jennifer’s car at Huntington On The Green apartment complex at noon on the day she disappeared. Unfortunately, the suspect’s face was obstructed by a fence. They appeared to be 5'3" to 5'5" tall, wearing a construction or painter’s uniform. The individual has never been identified.
Before Jennifer disappeared, she complained to her father, Drew, that maintenance workers who had been hired to paint apartments in her building made her feel uncomfortable. She told friends the workers often made unwanted advances towards her and that when it came time to paint her apartment, they only did a portion of the job as an excuse to return.
Due to Jennifer’s statements and the fact that the suspect was wearing what appeared to be a painter’s uniform, it is highly theorized that one of the employees was involved in her disappearance. Not only that but at least three people identified a maintenance employee as the man in the footage.
An unknown individual called in a tip claiming that someone named Chino was involved in Jennifer’s disappearance. When investigators showed a housekeeper employed at Jennifer’s apartment complex a photo of the suspect he said, “That looks like Chino” but did not know his real name.
A maintenance employee named Ben also identified the man as Chino and he made a startling comment to investigators when he stated that both he and Chino painted inside Jennifer’s condo “right before she passed away.” Shocked, they asked Ben why he would make such a statement and Ben said he assumed she had passed because she had been missing for so long.
Chino was identified as the head of maintenance; he both lived and worked in Jennifer’s building. He is reportedly a registered sex offender. The FBI finally spoke with Chino in 2009. He denied any involvement and passed a polygraph test; Ben also passed. No charges were ever filed against them.
In 2021, Chino, whose full name has not been revealed to the public, agreed to an interview with CBS News. Here is an excerpt:
Peter Van Sant: You had nothing to do with her disappearance?
Chino: Not at all.
Peter Van Sant: Where were you the morning of January 24th, 2006?
Chino: I don’t have to answer any questions, but that’s for sure.
Peter Van Sant: And what about that photo taken by security cameras?
Peter Van Sant: Is this you?
Chino: No, it’s not.
Peter Van Sant: Do you know who this is?
Chino: No, actually I don’t. I do not.
Peter Van Sant: Now you were the maintenance man there. You saw all the workers at that complex. You don’t recognize this figure?
Chino [talking to a woman in his home]: Mi amor. It’s OK. I have nothing to hide. I do not recognize that person.
Peter Van Sant: Do you know of anyone who might have been involved in Jennifer Kesse’s disappearance? Anyone?
Chino: Believe me, if I did know anyone that was involved in that, the Kesse family would be knowing as well.
Chino: I met Jennifer Kesse. She was a beautiful person. She had no problem with me.
Over the years, the case went cold, and Jennifer’s family grew frustrated with the lack of progress. They organized search parties, held vigils, and created a website dedicated to her disappearance. At one point, concerned locals even raised a million-dollar reward to find Jennifer, to no avail.
In December 2022, the Kesse family announced that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would be re-testing physical evidence for DNA — something they have been fighting for, for years. A 2023 Gofundme has since raised over $115,000 to aid the investigation.
Jennifer is described as a kind, intelligent, driven young woman who had a bright future ahead of her. Her case may still be unsolved, but her story is a testament to the power of community support and the impact that one person can have on the world. If you have any information regarding her disappearance, contact the Kesse family tipline at 941-201-4009.
“We want to thank the public for always supporting Jennifer through the years and not giving up on her. We have felt the love and support from so many strangers and we’ve always said together we will solve Jennifer’s abduction.”— The Kesse Family