Jessica Keen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Jessica Lyn Keen (September 24, 1975 – March 17, 1991) was a murder victim killed in Foster Chapel Cemetery in West Jefferson, Ohio. Her case was profiled on the television program Unsolved Mysteries and "On the Case with Paula Zahn."

Before the murder[edit]

Jessica Lyn Keen, a 15-year-old girl from Columbus, Ohio was a model student—an honor student and a cheerleader. However, she quit cheerleading and her grades dropped after meeting Shawn Thompson, an 18-year-old from Central Ohio. Her parents objected to her seeing Thompson but did not know what to do. They placed her in a home for troubled teens on March 4, 1991.

Body discovered[edit]

After being missing for two days, Jessica Keen's body was found at the back of Foster Chapel Cemetery, 20 miles from the teen facility. She had been raped and badly beaten. She was still wearing her ring and watch, but a pendant with the word "taken" was nowhere to be found. Her boyfriend was the prime suspect, but DNA tests proved he was not responsible. Police theorized that she had escaped her abductors and ran to the cemetery. Evidence in the cemetery shows she tried to hide behind grave stones - one of her socks was found, and a knee imprint in the mud behind a grave stone was found with or near the sock. She was killed near a fence in the cemetery, presumably by her abductors, who had followed her.

A cross with her name on it was placed where her body was discovered near the fence in the cemetery.


On April 9, 2008, police in Burlington, North Carolina arrested Marvin Lee Smith, Jr. Smith was charged with unlawful sexual conduct on Keen, a felony. Smith had an extradition hearing set for April 30, 2008, to determine whether he would be turned over to Ohio authorities to face charges.[1] In 2009, Smith admitted to a Madison county courtroom that he had in fact raped and murdered Keen. According to The Columbus Dispatch, who reported the admission February 27, 2009, Smith told the court that Keen had escaped Smith's car and run into Foster Chapel Cemetery, where she collided with a fence post and fell. Smith confessed that he beat Keen to death with a tombstone, then discarded it over the fence nearby. Reports show that police had indeed found bloodied pieces of a tombstone where Smith had indicated. In exchange for Smith's confession, he avoided a death penalty trial that was set for March. Smith pled guilty to one charge of aggravated murder, with specifications of rape and murder, and was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.


  1. ^ "Man expected to be charged 17 years after girl's murder". Columbus Dispatch. 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2008-04-10.

External links[edit]