Orlando, FL- Jennifer Kesse, the newly promoted mortgage process engineering manager for Central Florida Investments, parent company of Westgate Resorts was an upstart.
After interviewing with upper management for other advancement roles within the company- her new position was actually created For Her.
Was this a forward and prophetic corporate strategy based on mortgage industry trending data?
Was her promotion a result of Jennifer’s own market analysis and efficiencies recommendations to the suits on the top floor?
Yes and Yes.
At 24 Jennifer Kesse was the youngest new manager among her peers in their respective management roles at CFI.
While she did not have the subordinates they did reporting to her directly, the initiative she was leading and launching was going to save the firm almost $900,000 annually. The installation and rollout of a new debit system interface allowing timeshare owners to pay fees, mortgages and incidentals by ACH automatically was a corporate priority for Westgate Resorts.
Which is why on the morning of Tuesday January 24, 2006, the day after she returned from a brief trip with her boyfriend Robert Allen when Jenn did not show up to her office in Ocoee there appeared to be immediate concern.
According to Jennifer’s outlook scheduling calendar she did not have an interoffice meeting until the afternoon.
By 11:15 her parents living two hours away in Bradenton were called to see if she had some sort of family emergency.
The exact escalation of events within CFI leading up to the phone call and who made it are being withheld for investigative reasons.
By noon, a trifecta of calamitous and simultaneous events takes place.
Drew, Joyce and Logan Kesse, speeding from Bradenton to Orlando in a respite from paralytic panic reach the property manager of Jenn’s new condo at Mosaic On Millenia and learn her car is not parked in her spot. She is not inside.
A self-confessed admirer and now CFI lateral management peer, Johnny Campos arrives 4 hours late to the Ocoee office.
The only suspect ever declared to date in Jennifer Kesse’s disappearance is parking her vehicle while captured on 3 separate closed circuit cameras at the Huntingdon Tavern On The Green Condominiums and apartments. It is less than a few blocks from two large CFI warehouses and within a mile of several CFI owned properties.
By late afternoon The Kesse’s, Rob Allen and Jennifer’s closest friends were using her condo as a command center to develop immediate and organized searches for her.
Detectives Julius Glenn Gause II and Joel Wright of the Orlando Police Department respond to the scene.
Detective Gause assures the Kesse’s that Jennifer had a fight with her boyfriend Rob Allen, who is now standing in her living room vehemently disagreeing with his investigative assessment. Who can blame the guy?
Gause’s opinion was reached without ever interviewing a single person who was not on-scene, and was sure she would be back by tomorrow.
In a mandatory meeting called at the request of Central Florida Investments CEO David Siegel and conducted by Chief Financial Officer Tom Dugan, it was announced that Jennifer Kesse, a respected and valued member of the management team had been reported missing.
Dugan adamantly assured all that the company would encourage employees to join any organized search efforts to find her.
Jennifer did not return as Gause predicted.
Her car did however, and on January 26th her case was declared a criminal investigation.
The First 48… Months
Upon the classification of Jennifer’s case as a criminal investigation, J. Glenn Gause told the Kesse’s that his partner Detective Joel Wright asked what he considered a dumb question during a briefing.
As a result Gause informed- he kicked him off the case and requested new partner Det. Emmett Browning.
While such a move would obviously be outside of Det. Gause’s authority, it is more likely the pair were reeling from the Internal Affairs investigation that ensued after they knowingly interviewed John Evander Couey after his arrest for the murder of Jessica Lunsford.
Shortly after Couey’s confession to Citrus county detectives was thrown out of court because it violated Couey’s Miranda rights, Gause and Wright decided to inform their Orlando PD sergeant that they interviewed Couey following his arrest in Citrus County on the chance he might be a suspect in the Regina Armstrong murder because he grew up in Orange County. They claimed he actually confessed to the Lunsford murder.
The confession was not taped and at no time did either detective inform the Citrus investigators or their OPD supervisor of the visit itself- let alone Couey’s statements.
That is until they learned his original confession in the Lunsford case was inadmissible.
Interviewing an incarcerated man who is represented by an attorney with charges pending in a potentially related case without permission, notes, or a recording by veteran detectives is outrageous.
John Cuoey was 5’4”, 125 lbs with a flag tattoo. The suspect composite from direct witnesses in the Armstrong case was a man around 40, 6 ft tall with medium build and a mermaid tattoo on the opposite arm.
They were lucky their actions did not derail the prosecution of both cases. The second alleged confession was also thrown out and reprimands to both detectives remain private in their respective employee records. Regina Armstrong’s murder in 1985 remains unsolved.
John Evander Couey died of natural causes on death row awaiting execution for the rape and murder of Jessica Lunsford. (more…)