Back in the summer of 2006, one murder case shook the city of Omaha like no other that year- – the disappearance of 19-year-old University of Nebraska at Omaha student Jessica O’Grady.
Jessica was gone. Nobody could find her. Yet her car turned up days later. But where did her killer hide her?
The community outpouring toward finding Jessica was something I would never forget. I was a journalist at the Omaha newspaper at the time. The subsequent trial against her lover was historic in nature. The case also drew attention because of the exemplary forensics work performed by Douglas County CSI commander David
Kofoed. But three years later, Kofoed went to prison — related to his on-the-job misconduct in two other high-profile murder cases. Both cases predated the murder of Jessica O’Grady.
When I left Omaha in December 2012 for greener (yet admittedly much colder)
pastures as an investigative journalist in Appleton, Wisconsin, I kept open the possibility of writing a book about the Jessica O’Grady murder mystery for three chief reasons: nagging questions about the actual murder weapon, the whereabouts of Jessica’s body and the prospect of an accomplice still lurking at large.
As readers will find out, there’s reason to doubt the authenticity of the murder weapon showcased at the trial.
The hidden nature of Jessica’s body: The City of Omaha itself has about 500,000 residents and the Metro region consists of nearly 1 million people. The density of the city population begs the question: how was her Omaha killer successfully able to dispose of Jessica’s body?
As for the prospect of an accomplice: to this day, only one person has ever been charged with a crime in connection with the homicide. Some — including the sheriff of Douglas County – remain absolutely convinced a second person had a hand in disposing of Jessica’s body. Is this just wild speculation or is there a kernel of truth to this? I’ve always been intrigued by this important question — and it’s a question the news media, by and large, underplayed.
In BODY OF PROOF, I tried my best to address these three most perplexing quandaries that have haunted this case since May 10-11, 2006. After you read the book, please let me know what you think.