Person of Interest in Jennifer Kesse Case

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," May 17, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Breaking news in the Jennifer Kesse case.

We have covered her strange disappearance extensively. You remember the beautiful young financial analyst who vanished 16 months ago. She was 24 at the time. Jennifer had returned from a Caribbean cruise with her boyfriend and then never showed up at work the next day. Police found Jennifer's Chevy Malibu at a condo complex near her home, and surveillance video showed someone near her car.

Tonight police are releasing new evidence. Joining us, Sergeant Barbara Jones of the Orlando Police Department. Welcome, Sergeant Jones.


VAN SUSTEREN: Sergeant, when we first covered this disappearance about a year-and-a-half ago on this show, we showed video of a man walking past appear area near to where the car was parked. That was released by the police department, was it not?

JONES: Yes, ma'am, it was.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, tonight or today, you are releasing more video. Is that video of the same person a short time before that — the video that was — that we see — the picture we saw?

JONES: Yes, the image that the public saw were still photos that were taken from video surveillance that was from a camera at the apartment complex or condominium complex where her vehicle was taken. We labeled that person as a person of interest. We had the entire video, which we released the rest of the video, which shows this — with the person that we were calling the person of interest parking her vehicle in the condominium complex, exiting the car and then, we believe, walking by that gated area, which is the still photo that people shot — that people saw.

The difference now is, is we are publicly announcing that now we consider this person of interest an actual suspect in the disappearance of Jennifer Kesse.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why the 16-month delay in releasing this video?

JONES: Well, you know, investigations are about, you know, being able to interview people and being able to lock people into stories, when we — you know, to move a case forward. In this particular case, we wanted to hold this piece of evidence in the fact that if somebody thought they were only a person of interest, they would be more apt to come forward.

But since we haven't gotten any leads, right now, we think, Well, maybe if we release the images, where we name the person as a person of interest simply walking by, that it's quite possible that maybe somebody said something like, Hey, that looks like that could have been you, and the person might have said, Well, that's not me, and if it was, I was just walking by, where we think that if that maybe did take place, that now that we're identifying this person as an actual suspect in her disappearance, that maybe a conscience would bring forward some additional information and allow it to move the case forward and find closure for the Kesses.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. The video that you're now releasing today, is it in any way enhanced so that you can see the person's face?

JONES: We did look at the video and we did try to get it to the best quality that we could. The detectives looked at it very closely. They know that the person drove in, parked the car. The car wasn't, you know, perfectly parked or within — you know, straight in. The person backed it up and then parked it very, very straight within the defined — of the parking space, which we believe would be — you know, most people, when they want to get rid of a car, they'll just sort of park it and then leave. So we believe this person parked it specifically correctly in that parking spot so it wouldn't draw any attention to the car. And in fact it was parked, we believe, on the 24th, and it was recovered by us on the 26th of January of 2006.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Quick question. Since someone — we now know someone is driving her car, any fingerprints on the steering wheel, the console, the window, the doorknob, the interior door, the exterior door that have been helpful?

JONES: Well, you know, we certainly processed the interior and the exterior of that car. Obviously, if there's anything additional that we can put somebody in that car, that's certainly going to be instrumental to our case. But right now, we're not really releasing any other details of the case, except for that we continue to work this case. And we're just hoping that it's not always about money, that maybe it's about a conscience, and maybe somebody out there knows something about this case and will rethink their thoughts and maybe provide us just that little bit of information that can help us move the case forward.

VAN SUSTEREN: Detective Jones, thank you.

JONES: OK. You're welcome.

VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us from Tampa are Jennifer's parents, Drew and Joyce Kesse. Drew and Joyce, thank you for joining us this evening, and welcome back. And I keep hoping every time you come back, we have good news for you.



DREW KESSE: Thank you for having us, though.

VAN SUSTEREN: I suppose that putting this video out sort of reenergizes this whole investigation, and I suspect that the police, if they had a good fingerprint, they have put it into every data base available. Do you know if there are in any way father ahead in this investigation than they were about 16 months ago?

DREW KESSE: I think they're father ahead. Are we close? No, I don't think we're close. There's a lot still just very unknown. You know, a lot of times, the word vanishment (ph) comes up. I have to be honest with you. But leads are still being called in every day. It's an amazing thing that, you know, 15-and-a-half months, we still get leads. We have a personal lead phone. Just last week, there were seven leads on that phone alone that came to us. So the community is very aware, and actually, the United States is very aware. And the calls come in, they just have not been the proper call.

VAN SUSTEREN: Joyce, your daughter had been in the Caribbean with her boyfriend. He has been excluded. In fact, he was halfway down the state the night she disappeared. Do you recognize the person in the video at all?

JOYCE KESSE: Not at al. Not at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: So this is not some friend of hers, as far as you know? There's no acquaintance, nothing. This is a complete stranger, as far as you're concerned.

JOYCE KESSE: Exactly. And as well as her friends in Orlando. Nobody recognizes that individual.

VAN SUSTEREN: So this has actually been shopped around to her friends to see if they recognize him?

JOYCE KESSE: Well, see, exactly. The photos of the person of interest have — I mean, everybody's seen those photos of that person of interest, but nobody recognizes that individual.

VAN SUSTEREN: And just to sort of update the viewers, the car was found about a mile-and-a-half away from your daughter's condominium down the — down the street from our daughter's condominium. Drew, there — I read that there is a — that there's a possibility of a million-dollar reward for your daughter. That might be attractive to someone who's sitting out there who might know something. What's the reward for, and what can you tell me about it?

DREW KESSE: There is a million-dollar reward for the safe return of Jennifer, meaning alive. And that reward will stay out until July 4th, Independence Day. Gives us about six weeks. And we're honestly hoping that, again, someone's heart gets, you know, touched and makes the call or someone says, Well, you lied to me, you need to step up to the plate here.

The one thing that it really has done by coming out with this, Greta, really, is we do hear people say that, Oh, she had a fight, she just left. Oh, she — you know, She doesn't want to be around her family...

VAN SUSTEREN: Don't — wouldn't you love that? That would be great news, actually.


JOYCE KESSE: Absolutely!

VAN SUSTEREN: I knew you guys would be crazy about that.

DREW KESSE: I'd take that any day of the week.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes. I know. I know. And it — but it...

DREW KESSE: So this kind of says to us, you know, she was not the last one to drive her car, and she was taken.

JOYCE KESSE: Actually, she was stolen. She was stolen from her family and friends.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we're hopeful that that million dollars will do something. And we all remember Elizabeth Smart. Who would have thought she would come home.

DREW KESSE: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: So let's hope you guys have the same good fortune. Drew, Joyce, thank you. And as we promised, we'll continue to follow it.

DREW KESSE: Thank you also.

JOYCE KESSE: Thank you so much, Greta.

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