AMU Law Enforcement Original Public Safety

Examining the Unsolved Murder of Jennifer Servo – Part 1

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By Jennifer Bucholtz
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice and Forensic Science

This is the first of two articles reviewing and analyzing the facts and evidence related to the death of Jennifer Servo.

While I was at CrimeCon 2021 recently, I met Sharon Newman Edwards, host of the podcast Justice…Delayed. The first season of her podcast covers the unsolved homicide of Jennifer Servo, a reporter based in Abilene, Texas.

Related link: Presenting the Rebekah Gould Murder Case at CrimeCon 2021

Edwards has worked tirelessly, and without compensation, for four years in an effort to raise awareness for and ultimately solve Jennifer Servo’s case. She has the support and cooperation of Jennifer’s family members, as they are anxiously seeking some resolution of her murder.

Jennifer Servo during a broadcast. Image courtesy of Sharon Newman Edwards.

Jennifer moved to Abilene just 61 days before her murder and was working as a news reporter at the local KRBC station. She was an army veteran and had recently graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Montana. Jennifer lived in a second-story apartment in the Hunters Ridge Apartment complex at 5550 Texas Avenue.

As of this writing, Jennifer’s killer has yet to be arrested and charged.

Details of the Murder of Jennifer Servo

Jennifer Servo was murdered in the early morning hours of Monday, September 16, 2002. In the hours prior to her murder, she was seen shopping at a local grocery store and later spoke with a friend on the phone for about an hour. That phone call ended around 1:30 a.m., and Jennifer expressed no signs of distress during the conversation.

Related link: Arrest Made in 16-Year-Old Murder Case of Rebekah Gould

Several hours later, sometime in the mid-morning, at least one friend called Jennifer and received no response. It’s likely she was dead by that time, but a more accurate window of death is impossible to pinpoint right now. 

Billboard asking the public for information on unsolved cases such as Jennifer’s. Image courtesy of Sharon Newman Edwards.

Jennifer’s autopsy states a combination of blunt force trauma to the head and strangulation led to her death. She suffered five head injuries, resulting in extensive areas of bleeding between her scalp and skull, and a fracture to the left side of her skull. Most of her injuries were located in the facial region; none were found on the back of her head.

It is not known what object was used to kill her. Jennifer also sustained significant damage to the soft tissues in her neck as well as petechial hemorrhaging, the bursting of small blood capillaries in her eyes and neck. The latter are typical injuries resulting from manual strangulation.

The pathologist also noted bruising in the genital region, but no other signs of sexual assault were observed. No drugs or alcohol were detected in her blood.  

The Discovery of Jennifer’s Body

Jennifer’s schedule at the news station consisted of four 10-hour shifts from Thursday to Sunday. The day she was murdered was the start of her weekly three days off. Despite not having to work those days, she missed two planned outings with colleagues, which raised concerns among them. Her mother had also tried to reach Jennifer by phone with no success.

Co-workers went to Jennifer’s apartment on Wednesday morning, September 18, but received no response to their knocks at her door or their calls to her phone. After reporting their findings to their boss at the news station, they asked the apartment manager to enter Jennifer’s apartment and conduct a welfare check. Her body was discovered by that employee at approximately 1:30 p.m. that day.

First responders found Jennifer’s body in her bathroom, but noted bloody marks on the carpet indicating she’d been dragged there by her killer. A large blood stain was found on the carpet next to her bed, which was located in the living room. (Jennifer had used the apartment’s bedroom as a walk-in closet and slept in the living room.)

Because at least 48 hours had passed since her death, Jennifer’s body was in the early stages of decomposition and rigor mortis had passed. When she was found, Jennifer was wearing shorts, underwear and a t-shirt. Several gold rings were on her fingers; one was missing two of the three stones. Her watch was on the floor nearby. Additionally, the fingernail of her third right finger was fractured.

Other Crime Scene Observations

When Jennifer’s friends attempted to locate her at her apartment that Wednesday morning, they noted that her living room shades were pulled down, preventing anyone from seeing through her window. They found this unusual because Jennifer normally left her shades raised slightly so her pet cat, Mr. Binks, could see out the window. Her front door was locked, and there was no evidence of a break-in.

Jennifer Servo’s purse. Image courtesy of Sharon Newman Edwards.

Items noted as missing from the scene included Jennifer’s distinctive Guess-brand purse (see the image), car keys, wallet, cell phone and some DVDs. Her cat was inside the apartment and uninjured. Police later stated that the cat contaminated much of the crime scene and evidence.

Investigators with the Abilene Police Department have remained tight-lipped and have kept most of the details about the crime scene confidential. Initially, my calls to the sergeant in charge of the Crimes Against Persons Unit went answered. After several days, he did follow up with me but provided no further information about the status of the case.

What Clues Can the Crime Scene Provide?

In the next article, I will include an analysis of the known facts and evidence in Jennifer’s murder with the intent of identifying clues about her killer. Readers who wish to follow Jennifer’s case are encouraged to join Sharon Newman Edwards’s Facebook group, Justice…Delayed Podcast Discussion Group, visit her website and follow her on Twitter. She will continue to post updates and topics for discussion.

Anyone who has information about Jennifer’s murder is asked to please report tips to the Abilene Police Department at 325-673-8331. For those who wish to stay anonymous, call Sharon Newman Edwards at 210-836-8680 or Abilene Crime Stoppers at 325-676-TIPS.

Jennifer Bucholtz is a former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent and a decorated veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. She holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice, a master of arts in criminal justice and a master of science in forensic sciences. Bucholtz has an extensive background in U.S. military and Department of Defense counterintelligence operations. While on active duty, she served as the Special Agent in Charge for her unit in South Korea and Assistant Special Agent in Charge at stateside duty stations. Bucholtz has also worked for the Arizona Department of Corrections and Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City. She is currently an adjunct faculty member and teaches courses in criminal justice and forensic sciences. Additionally, she is an instructor for the Department of State’s Office of Anti-Terrorism Assistance and a licensed private investigator in Colorado. You can contact her at Jennifer.Bucholtz@mycampus.apus.edu.

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