Jessica Keen murder and obituary, victim killed in Foster Chapel Cemetery –

By | March 18, 2023

Jessica Lyn Keen, a murder victim, was killed in Foster Church Cemetery in West Jefferson, Ohio. Her case has appeared on the television shows “Unsolved Mysteries” and “On the Case with Paula Zahn” as well as “Dead Silent on Investigation Discovery.”

Jessica Lyn Keen, 15, from Columbus, Ohio, is a star student, honor student and cheerleader. However, she quit cheerleading and her grades plummeted after meeting and falling in love with 18-year-old Sean Thompson, a boy from her school. Her parents objected to her seeing the young man, but didn’t know what to do.

On March 4, 1991, they reached out to Columbus’s toll-free helpline for help. Huckleberry House, a home for troubled teens, offers two-week temporary accommodation, individual and family counseling sessions.

Keene’s body was found early on the morning of March 17 behind Foster Church Cemetery, 20 miles from the juvenile detention facility, two days after his disappearance. She was raped and beaten. She still wears her ring and watch, but a pendant that says “Take it” that her boyfriend gave her is missing.

Her boyfriend is the prime suspect, but DNA testing proves he’s not responsible. Police suspect she escaped her captors and ran to the cemetery. Evidence from the cemetery suggests she tried to hide behind the headstone – a pair of her socks were found and knee prints in the dirt behind the headstone were found next to or near the socks. She was killed near the fence of the cemetery, presumably by her captors who were following her.

Her family has since placed a cross with her name on it near the cemetery fence where her body was found.

On April 9, 2008, Burlington, North Carolina police arrested Marvin Lee Smith Jr. Based on DNA evidence, Smith was charged with performing an unlawful sexual act on Keane, a felony, and was extradited to Ohio to face charges.

In 2009, Smith pleaded guilty in Madison County court to first-degree murder, affirming that he raped and murdered Keene. Evidence suggests Keane fled his car and ran into Foster Chapel Cemetery, where she hit a fence post and fell. Keane was then beaten to death with a tombstone thrown over a nearby fence. Police reportedly found blood-stained fragments on the tombstone. In exchange for the guilty plea, Smith avoided a death penalty trial scheduled for March 2009. He pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated murder with rape and murder and was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.


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