By Leah Volpe
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
On a Saturday morning in California in 1996, Jennifer LeCornu Carrieri called her identical twin sister for their daily phone conversation.
When she was unable to contact Jody, Carrieri recalls having a weird feeling overtake her, but she carried on with her day.
Shortly after, Carrieri’s fiancé at the time rushed home from his office to break the news:
She had been murdered in a Towson parking lot. To this day, the crime has not been solved.
Before that moment, the twin LeCornu sisters had shared a memorable life together, beginning with the attic room of their childhood home in Annapolis where they would sit on their twin beds or smoke cigarettes out the window.
Jody and Jennifer were happy . They enjoyed shopping, hanging out with their friends, arguing with their older sisters and attending the same classes at school.
“We were wild,” Carrieri said. “We were always doing bad things, but Jody was always the one to get caught and get in trouble.”
Carrieri described Jody as the glamorous one, with flipped hair and a fresh coat of lip gloss. Older by two minutes, Jody was the life of the party while Carrieri said she was more reserved and shy in social settings.
The drug problem led their parents to separate the twins for the first time in their lives. In 1991, Carrieri was sent to a dude ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to stay with her mother’s relatives, while Jody remained in Baltimore.
It was during this separation that Jennifer received the news of her sister’s murder.
Jody LeCornu, a 23-year-old Towson University student, was shot inside her car on the night of March 2, 1996. She was discovered the next day around 4 a.m. by police in the Drumcastle Shopping Center parking lot on York Road.
Twenty-two years later, the killer has still not been caught and the motive remains unknown. With no one convicted, the LeCornu family struggles to find closure.
“I’ve become almost like a shell of a person,” says Carrieri. “I feel like I will be more settled of a person, and a better person all around.”
After 22 years of endless questions and few answers, Carrieri continues her lone fight for justice for her twin sister through any means she can.
“I’ve just become more and more obsessed about finding this person,” Carrier says. “People keep saying to me, ‘It’s not going to bring her back.’ I just feel like it’s this open wound, that I need to know. I feel like I will be more at peace. That is what I’m hoping for.”
In recent years, Carrieri has been unable to numb the pain of losing her twin and is learning who she is without Jody by her side. Carrieri still experiences connections with Jody by having vivid dreams about finding her still alive. Keeping Jody’s baby blanket in her car, Carrieri finds comfort in having her sister’s belongings close by her.
Without interfering with the investigation, Carrieri stays connected to the case by routinely posting the reward poster for the murderer to her personal Facebook page. It is a way for Carrieri to help the case without damaging it and hold on to hope for the future.
“I feel like the more that it’s out there, the more exposure it gets,” Carrieri said. “I’ve always tried so hard to get it out there.”
After an initially rocky relationship with the Baltimore County police that involved a lawsuit restricting Carrieri from access to investigative case files, Carrieri and Vickie Walsh, a lawyer for the county police department, share confidence in the detective on the case and believe they will eventually get answers.
“Even though it’s a harsh reality, there are some cases that may never be solved,” Walsh said. “That’s possible, but I don’t feel that about this case. I don’t rule out any idea. I explore everything because I don’t know when we are going to hit the jackpot. But I don’t believe we won’t. I won’t give up hope. I just won’t. And I never will.”
Whatever progress is made on the case, Walsh’s role is to inform Carrieri as part of their settlement agreement. However, their relationship has grown to become a two-way street of communication between the two of them.
Walsh, Carrieri and Detective Caroll Bollinger, the detective called to the scene of Jody’s murder 22 years ago, remain hopeful that more exposure and news stories about the impact of the murder on a twin sister will resonate with someone or get someone’s attention.
“One break can make a case. It just takes a break,” Walsh says.
After spending years dedicating her life to her sister’s murder, Carrieri holds strongly on her mission of finding the truth and getting justice for her sister.
However, Carrieri has found happiness in other parts of her life. Her children, Billy, 16, John, 13, and Kira, 7, are the biggest joy and comfort during her hard times.
She has also discovered a new passion that gives her a new lease on life. Carrieri, currently residing in Easton, spends her weekdays volunteering full time as a hospice worker on the Eastern Shore, visiting with sick patients and meeting their families.
“I just like to help people,” Carrieri said. “That’s really what I care about, is helping people and doing nice things and making people smile. I feel like I have a purpose now, besides my kids.”