|MSNBC hides crime-scene photo in plain sight.|
I am addicted to those shows: Dateline ID, 48 Hours, On the Case With Paula Zahn. It is amazing how popular this genre has become; you can find a murder docudrama on 24/7 these days thanks to all the channels available on cable. I am old enough to remember when 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 were it – and 13 rarely.
The episode I watched on the girl in the blue mustang was a repeat of an April airing. It had to do with Michelle O’Keefe, an attractive freshman who played as an extra in music videos and I believe other things, her last being a shoot for a Kid Rock video.
O'Keefe was returning from Los Angeles from that shoot when she was murdered on Feb. 22, 2000. The shooting occurred in a car park, early evening. O’Keefe’s friend had dropped her off and left, believing her friend was right behind her, following her out of the lot. Turns out Michelle was only re-parking her car in a darker spot so she could change out of her provocative clothing used in the video; she had to go to class.
Someone came up and shot her four times. The car, slipped into neutral or drive, had rolled out of the spot and seemingly into another one. This created some confusion – the car moved twice after Michelle’s friend saw her get into it. If you ask me, her friend should have waited for her. Didn’t she know Michelle was going to be changing her clothes there alone in a dark park-and-ride? The friend is whisked out of the show, probably to spare her feelings, but I think it was odd that she wouldn’t hang around. She must have realized her friend hadn’t followed her out of the lot once she was on the highway and the car wasn’t behind her. I wouldn't have left a woman alone in that situation.
|The guilty, Jennings, and the dead.|
The prosecution’s story, which I believe completely, is that Raymond Lee Jennings, the guard in the car park at the time, shot her four times in the chest and face after realizing she wasn’t a prostitute. Remember how she was dressed – and that she was in the process of undressing to change her clothes. Maybe he propositioned her, she reacted violently, he got scared and shot her. (He said something to the police about her looking like a hooker during questioning.) He was in the army and no stranger to shooting a weapon. (He also lived near her, which I believe creates grounds for speculation for another theory: He knew who she was and tried to rape her ... Michelle's mother, on the show, admitted to seeing this guy at the local supermarket, and Michelle was quite attractive. Any red-blooded male would had to have noticed her, especially if she lived nearby). In any event, he was a married man with four kids; I guess he'd rather kill someone than let them perhaps publicly accuse him of being a pervert. I mean, who knows?
What drew attention to Jennings was that he simply knew too much about the details of the crime, things that only the killer would know. He said he was doing a Sherlock Holmes to help the police, and had no idea his "speculation" would slingshot back and hit him in the ass.
Two previous trials ended with deadlocked juries (in both cases, the majority was convinced of his guilt). Jennings, an Army National Guardsman and Iraq war veteran, was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison at the third and final trial after he was finally found guilty.
Detectives grew suspicious of Jennings for a lot of reasons, but I think what was key was that he told them the young woman was still alive when he found her – he said he even saw a pulse beating in her neck! He did not make a single effort to try to revive her because he feared contaminating the crime scene. Who but the murderer would've even thought like that?
There was no physical evidence linking Jennings to the crime. No murder weapon was ever found.
I did find, almost hidden in a quick montage during the part of the show when the murder took place, the above posted crime scene photo of Michelle. I feel compelled to run it, even though you really can’t see much, to show the horror that was done to the girl. I don’t know why Dateline didn’t show it better – they spent two hours discussing the story of her death, but hide a crime scene photo in plain sight. Well, they aired it, so I am going to show it.
POSTSCRIPT: I have been mulling some other things since I wrote this. I mentioned the psychic on Montel; that is not the only possible example of the supernatural imposing itself on this case. Michelle herself held a strong view that she didn't have long to live, and told her parents of her fear. When the license plates arrived in the mail for her brand spanking new blue Mustang, the tag ended with the numbers 187 -- which freaked her out because she knew that was police code for homicide. She also spoke of the car park, and that she felt safe there because the place had a "security guard." Her words remained stuck in the parents' mind for some reason during the investigation.
Also, chances are the killer would have escaped justice if not for Michelle's family's constant vigilance: checking up on the police, hiring a lawyer and PIs, and keeping the media focused on the case. The prosecutor only went ahead with the trial after a discussion with Michelle's father, who convinced him of Jennings guilt based on a PowerPoint presentation based on videos of Jennings discussing the case, knowing things only the killer could have known.