Real Name: Jessica Lyn Keen
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Weinland Park, Ohio
Date: March 15, 1991
Details: 15-year-old Jessica Keen was a cheerleader and honor student who lived in Weinland Park, Ohio. Her behavior changed after she started dating eighteen-year-old high school dropout Shawn Thompson. Her mother, Rebecca Keen, forbid her from seeing him. She started to rebel, quit cheerleading, and started skipping school in order to do so. However, when Rebecca learned of this, she placed Jessica in a group home for troubled teens called the "Huckleberry House" on March 4, 1991. After an argument with Shawn over the phone on March 15, she departed the home to go to the mall. She was last seen alive at the bus stop at around 6pm, and investigators believe she was abducted from there.
After being missing for two days, Jessica was found raped and bludgeoned to death twenty miles from her home near the fence of Foster Chapel Cemetery. Police believe that she was forced into a car by one or two men, raped, and held for at least six hours. Sometime in the middle of the night on March 16, she escaped from her attackers and ran towards the cemetery.
Evidence showed that she hid behind several tombstones, where one of her socks was found, and where her kneeprint was found. While running through the cemetery, she saw a light from a farmhouse. While running towards it, she slammed into a fence post while in complete darkness. This allowed her attackers to catch up with her. They raped her, beat her to death against a tombstone, and finally took her gold pendant with the word "Taken" on it.
After investigating and clearing Shawn as a suspect, the police had no other leads and the case grew cold. Jessica's family has since placed a cross at the fence post that she collided with in the cemetery, in order to keep her memory alive.
Suspects: Initially, the police directed their focus on Shawn, but he and several friends had left for Florida during the time that Jessica was killed, and DNA evidence cleared him in the case. No other suspects were identified in it.
Investigators believed that Jessica's killer was someone she was acquainted with, as she was comfortable enough to get in the car with them.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the June 4, 1999 episode. It was also documented on On the Case with Paula Zahn.
Results: Solved. Seventeen years after Jessica was killed, Marvin Lee Smith was arrested for her abduction, rape, and murder in April 2008 after his DNA was matched to evidence recovered from her body. He had been charged with assaults against two Columbus women and was out on bond when she was killed. He eventually was convicted for the two Columbus attacks and served nine years in prison. Since he was a felon, he had to submit his DNA, which led to the match.
Smith subsequently confessed to Jessica's murder, and his details from the confession matched with that at the crime scene. He also confirmed that he was the only person responsible. Disturbingly, he revealed that he had used a seventy-pound tombstone to strike her over the head. The force of the blow caused it to break in two. In February 2009, he pled guilty to aggravated murder, kidnapping, and rape, and was sentenced to life in prison and will not be eligible for parole until 2038.
- Jessica Keen on Unsolved.com
- Jessica Keen on Wikipedia
- DNA leads to arrest in teen's 1991 death
- After 17 Years, New Evidence Solves Cold Case of Troubled Ohio Teen
- Suspect admits he raped, murdered Westland cheerleader in 1991
- Foster Chapel Cemetery - Jessica Keen Memorial
- Jessica Keen at Find a Grave