Judge to review unredacted Jennifer Kesse investigation documents
Family wants documents related to missing daughter, OPD says case is still open
The parents of an Orlando woman who has been missing since 2006 want to know more about their daughter's investigation. However, the Orlando Police Department isn't handing over documents related to the case.
Jennifer Kesse, 24, went missing on Jan. 24, 2006. Her parents, Joyce and Drew Kesse, are taking legal action against Orlando police to get investigative documents related to the cold case.
They Kesses, joined by their attorneys, went before Orange County Judge Bob LeBlanc on Wednesday morning. Attorney Alex Karden represented the city.
"The whole purpose of this meeting or of this litigation was to get the records out of OPD's hands and into (the hands of) someone who is not looking at it in a biased manner," Kesse family attorney Paul Sisco said.
Some of the documents presented in court Wednesday -- part of 43 binders' worth of investigative material -- were heavily redacted because it is part of the ongoing, active investigation, according to Karden.
The reasoning for the redactions is because the documents contain confidential information, Karden said.
However, those redactions far exceed what's needed, Kesses' attorneys argued.
"To give the court an example, I am fanning through their recent response to our Nov. 29 letter and virtually every piece of information that is not a time and date has been blacked out," Sisco said. "To the point where just printing off their 119 expense went through a toner (cartridge)."
The cost of redacting and producing the files as part of the Kesses' public records request would exceed $18,000 for the family, according to the city.
The Kesses' attorneys say this isn't about the cost. Rather it's about getting a better look at what the investigation has consisted of since Jennifer Kesse's disappearance almost 13 years ago.
"This is not at all anyone trying to show up law enforcement or do anything to that regard. That is to give these people what they are entitled to, which is knowledge of what the investigation was involving their daughter back in early 2006 and what's happened since then," Sisco said.
LeBlanc ruled that another judge, who will be taking on the case, will review the unredacted files and determine whether Orlando police have enough in their investigation to continue to call it active.
"The Orlando Police Department continues to actively investigate the Jennifer Kesse disappearance case and the lead investigator continues to receive tips," a response released by an Orlando police spokesperson said. "In the last five years alone, we have received more than 180 tips. That is not typical of most disappearance cases, and we are committed to following up on every one of those tips."
According to OPD, the department does not release file materials in open and active cases.
"This decision has been made in an effort to ensure the integrity of the investigation, which will hopefully result in answers for the Kesse family. As seen in a recent arrest in the 2001 homicide of Christine Franke, our detectives constantly work these cases in an effort to solve them," the statement from OPD said, referencing the recent arrest in another Orlando cold case.
Orlando police said they continue to pursue every avenue to find out what happened to Jennifer Kesse.