Justice for JenniferBy Janet Warford-Perry
BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. - Almost immediately following the brutal murder of Jennifer Diane (Bryan) Judd, signs along Route 66 sprang up that cried out, “Justice for Jennifer.”
Thursday, the eve of the 15th anniversary of Judd's murder, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation announced the reward for information has been doubled to $10,000.
“Money talks,” said Amanda Davis, a younger sister to Judd.
Davis said during a press conference hosted by the KBI on Thursday that she believes there is a group of people that possess key information on what happened to her sister.
She added that, while the May 11 anniversary of her sister's death is an emotionally moving time for the family, they were also excited to learn that the KBI had increased the reward.
“Perhaps the increase in money will prompt someone to come forward with information that will solve the case,” Davis said.
Married only a week, Justin Judd reportedly came home from work and discovered his bride face down on the kitchen floor of the duplex they rented at 219 N. Park Street in Baxter Springs.
Jennifer Judd had been beaten about her body with a fist or heavy object and stabbed nine times - six times in the chest and three times in the back. The attack was done by “someone who hated or despised this lady,” according to the medical examiner's report.
Mark Garrett, a relative of Jennifer Judd and a private investigator who owned Tulsa-based Cold Case Investigations at the time of her death, tried desperately to find that person.
Garrett spent hours gathering voluntary statements from every witness he could round up. He tracked down the timesheet of one person who was absent from the workplace during whate he believed to be a key window of time.
For nearly a decade, Cold Case Investigations posted all the data collected on its Web site, including autopsy reports, and encouraged readers to e-mail, write or call with any leads.
Some of the information Garrett gleaned during his investigation indicated that city workers gave detailed description of a vehicle seen driving around the neighborhood on the day of the murder.
Just days earlier, someone had jiggled the door knob and frightened Jennifer Judd to the point that she hid behind a piece of furniture in tears until the intruder gave up, one witness reported.
A night clerk at a Picher convenience store, Judd's mother Debbie Bryan, said that her daughter “seemed frightened to be alone at work during the days leading up to the murder.”
A person who lived nearby the Judds at the time, Jeremy Bryan Jones, was later convicted as a serial killer. Awaiting death row in Alabama, Jones confessed to authorities in January 2005 he'd also murdered Jennifer Judd.
At the time, Jones also confessed to killing nearly a half dozen people in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Jones has never been charged with any of those crimes to which he confessed in 2005.
At the time, Justin Judd recalled Jones being a former high school classmate of his who turned out to be a “noisy neighbor” that fought routinely with his girlfriend. Jones and his girlfriend reportedly fought to the degree that police were called out several times.
Kyle Smith, KBI cold case department director, said his office thoroughly investigated Jones' claims but could find no evidence.
Jones later recanted his statements about murdering Jennifer Judd, Smith said.
Smith and agent Larry Thomas said the KBI has carefully preserved evidence from the scene. He indicated that the lines of communication had been kept open with all nearby law enforcement agencies and officers also share databases, hopefully so that one day the information in the Judd case can be utilized in a court of law.
“A sudden, unresolved death is hard on families,” Smith said, adding that very thing is what drives investigators to solve cases.
Officials hope the $5,000 increased reward donation from the Carole Sund/Carrigan Foundation will prompt someone to come forth.
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-KSCRIME and ask for Larry Thomas.