NEW YORK (CBS) Jennifer Kesse's sorority sisters at the University of Central Florida called her "mother hen" because of the way she looked after everyone and always made sure her "sisters were safe" - that's why it took all of them by surprise when she disappeared, apparently the victim of the very crime she tried to protect them from.
When, on January 25, 2006, the usually punctual Jennifer failed to show up at work her worried co-workers called her cell. When they got no answer they immediately called her parents.
That would be the beginning of a now 4-year-long mystery surrounding the disappearance of the 5-foot-8 green-eyed blonde who her father describes as "smart, stubborn, loving and kind."
Drew Kesse spoke with Crimesider recently about his daughter's disappearance and about why they "will never stop looking for her."
"We understand the odds of finding her alive," Drew said, but his daughter deserves their tireless efforts because she was the kind of person who would never stop if she were in their place.
It didn't matter what the goal, if she set it for herself she got it, Drew said, recounting the time, her senior year of high school when she decided to run track and "win at least one point for her team."
"She chose the two mile...and she wanted to score just one point," Drew recalled to Crimesider. "She ran her heart out and got 3rd place and got that point. And I was right there in the stands cheering her on."
Now Drew is championing Jennifer's case just as hard as he cheered her that day, pushing the investigators from day one when the first responding officer laughed off their missing persons report, made just a few hours after she failed to show up at work that Tuesday morning.
"He just laughed and said 'she probably got in a fight with her boyfriend and went to blow off steam,' but we knew that wasn't Jennifer's style," Drew says.
Since that day Drew and his wife Joyce have fought to get four Florida laws passed pertaining to missing person classifications, including one that raised the minimum age of the missing child alert to 26, and requires that after 90 days, their DNA be entered into local state and national databases.
Drew is also on the advisory board of the Missing and Endangered Persons and Information Clearing House. He was previously president of the association.
As with many adult missing persons cases, investigators immediately dug into Jennifer's personal life looking for anyone who might have had a grudge against her. They looked at her boyfriend, Rob Allen, who was the last to speak to her at around 10 pm the night before she disappeared. But they were able to establish that he was miles away in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Drew says it's possible that someone with a personal connection to Jennifer is responsible, but he finds it highly improbable that he wouldn't know about it. Jennifer talked to them about everything, Drew says.
Jennifer was always open with her family and friends as to what was going on in her life, no matter how personal.
Drew says the most likely scenario includes the workmen who were doing repairs around her condo complex. Jennifer told him more than once that she felt uncomfortable having them around. Drew told her that if even one time one of them made any kind of inappropriate comment, she should go straight to management and have them fired. He worries that perhaps that was what put her in danger.
Jennifer was ultra cautious and a stickler for personal security. She would always make "safe calls" - talking to someone on her cell until safely in her car or house - when she was walking alone at night.
When the men worked on her condo, Jennifer would be extremely cautious, says Drew. "She would stand there at the front door with it open and have me or someone else on the phone the whole time."
It's an awareness she was raised with by two people who are no strangers to crime.
Years before they had children, Drew and his wife Joyce were held at gunpoint in their home in New Jersey. "I stared straight into the barrel of a gun, I could see the bullets in their chambers." As a result the family always talked about worst case scenarios and what to do if they find themselves in a dangerous situation.
This might be the most upsetting and disquieting fact in the case for those who knew Jennifer best - she seems like she should be the last person in the world this would happen to.
Drew says despite the fact that Jennifer has been missing for over 4 years, the impact of her disappearance still feels incredibly raw to her friends and family. Her boyfriend at the time, Rob Allen, still keeps in touch with the Kesses and hasn't dated since. Most of her friends moved closer to their own parents after it happened, feeling the need to be closer to their families.
But Drew insists that they are not the victims, though they have been victimized; the sole victim is Jennifer and he doesn't want to ever pull the focus from her - and the search for her - whether she is dead or alive.
"We are 99.44 percent Ivory pure sure we won't find her alive" but they refuse to give up the remaining slim hope, Drew told Crimesider.
Jennifer's case has recently been transferred from the Orlando Police Department to the FBI. Drew hopes the new set of eyes on the case, as well as the considerable resources of the FBI, will help bring Jennifer home.
Anyone with information in the disappearance of Jennifer Kesse is asked to call the FBI's Tampa office at 866-838-1153.
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