Real Name: Jennifer "Jenny" Pratt
Case: Attempted Murder
Location: Carlsbad, California
Date: April 25, 1987
Details: During spring 1987, sixteen-year-old Jenny Pratt had hopes of becoming a model. She was a pretty and well-liked sophomore at San Dieguito High School. She was also in love with her boyfriend, Curtis Croft. He drove a Porsche, had plenty of money, and was a good-looking California surfer. She did not tell her parents about him for several months. She told them that he was seventeen and they felt, at first, that he was a very nice person. Only later did they learn that he had spent time in jail on drug charges, and that he was actually twenty-four years old.
On the night of April 25, 1987, against her parents' wishes, Jenny went out with Curtis. They went driving on his friend's motorcycle. That night, he promised to get her home before her midnight curfew. However, just minutes before they arrived at her house, she was struck on the back of her head with a long 2x4 by the riders of a pickup truck that drove past them at a stoplight.
At 1am on the night of the incident, Jenny's parents learned that she had been attacked and was being airlifted to Scripps Medical Center in La Jolla, California. They did not understand why she was being taken there because there was another hospital just five minutes away; only when they got there did they realize the gravity of the situation. Scripps is a trauma center that takes only the most serious of patients. The doctor told them that she was brain-dead; he feared that she would not survive the night. The blow she received to the head was great enough to actually crush her skull. This caused an immediate shutdown of her brain.
Miraculously, Jenny survived the brutal attack; however, she lapsed into a coma. Meanwhile, authorities began an investigation into her attack. The only physical evidence at the scene was the 2x4 with her blood on it. Curtis was questioned by the police; he told them that they were at the intersection, about to make a left turn, when Jenny were struck with the 2x4. He saw the pickup truck drive by them with several juveniles in its bed.
Authorities believed that the case would be solved quickly due to the fact that the perpetrators were teenagers that would probably "brag" about the crime. Despite this, no one ever came forward with direct knowledge of the attack. Jenny's parents hired private investigator Louie Crisafi to look into the case. He interviewed students at her school, who stated that Curtis was the target of the attack, not her.
In 1985, Curtis had been convicted for dealing cocaine; after cooperating with investigators, he served less than half of his original sentence. He was soon perceived as a "snitch" and was disliked by other drug users. Authorities questioned people who may have had a grudge against him. They learned that he had confronted one of them on the night before the attack. Jenny's parents believe that one of them might have been behind the attack.
The police investigation stalled when Curtis claimed that he could not identify any of the attackers. He said that the pickup truck was traveling at fifty-five miles per hour, which was too fast for him to see them. Crisafi did not believe this; a reconstruction was done to determine if his story was true. It showed that at fifty-five miles per hour, the 2x4 would have probably killed them both. Also it fell more than fifty feet from the scene of the crime, when in reality it was found just a few feet from the motorcycle. However, when they had the truck traveling at ten miles per hour, the 2x4 inflicted injuries that were similar to what Jenny actually received. Also, it fell right next to the motorcycle.
Crisafi believed that Curtis had seen the attackers. He confronted him about the discrepancies in his story. Finally, he named some people that he saw on the pickup truck. One of them was the same young man that fought with him the night before the attack. However, he later recanted his statements; he claimed that he was pressured and forced into naming names. He claims that he has taken lie detector tests and has always cooperated in the case.
Jenny's parents believe that people have been threatened into silence in this case. They claim that people have, at first, been willing to talk but later refuse to say what they know.
Three months after the attack, Jenny awoke from her coma. Twelve weeks later, she began physical therapy. Seven months later, she began to speak; a year later, she began to walk. Although she has progressed well, her brain damage is still severe and probably irreversible. She has no memory of the attack; however, she hopes that someone will come forward to help solve her case.
Suspects: The suspects were described as a group of juvenile males in a white pickup truck. It is believed that the attack was related to Curtis's drug activities.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the December 14, 1988 episode. An update, with new interviews of Jenny and her parents, was featured in the Third Anniversary Special.
Tiffany Harris, the actress who played Jenny, organized a walkathon in Los Angeles to raise money to pay for the cost of her rehabilitation.
Results: Unresolved. Jenny's condition improved and in 1989 she finally returned to high school. Sadly, the statute of limitations has run out on her case. Several people close to it have claimed to know the identities of her attackers; they claim that the driver is still alive, but that the person who threw the 2x4 committed suicide in 1994. According to another witness, the attack was done on the orders of a man whom Curtis had "ratted" to the police. They have never been publicly identified.
- Jenny Pratt at Unsolved.com
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- SitcomsOnline Discussion of Jenny Pratt