A woman murdered 29 years ago has been identified, leading “Happy Face Killer” Keith Jesperson to finally be prosecuted for her murder.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office reports that 34-year-old Suzanne Kjellenberg, once known as Jane Doe, was finally identified this year using genetic genealogy.
The serial killer, who is serving four consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, received an unexpected visit from investigators.
During the visit, Jesperson made a full confession that included previously unknown details.
Sheriff Eric Aden announced on Tuesday that Jesperson would be charged with Suzanne Kjellenberg’s murder.
On September 14, 1994, inmates working on a tree row close to Interstate 10 in northwest Florida discovered Kjellenberg’s skeletal bones.
The Happy Face Killer created cheerful expressions in letters in which he bragged about his murderous exploits. It was almost three decades before Kjellenberg’s identity was discovered, although he confessed to the crimes in 1995.
The sheriff’s office reported that a woman he thought was called Susan, Susanne, or Suzette was among the eight people he admitted to killing.
Last month, during an interrogation at the jail, the long-haul truck driver told detectives that he had picked up the woman in August 1994 at a truck stop near Tampa. After that, they went to a rest stop in the northwest corner of Florida.
Kjellenberg was sleeping on a mattress when Jesperson parked near a security guard. Jesperson said “the woman” wouldn’t stop shouting when he sat beside her.
Jesperson told police that he was not allowed to have passengers who were not authorized in his truck. Florida authorities say he told them he pressed his fist against the woman’s neck to stop her from breathing because he didn’t want to draw the security guard’s attention.
He bound the woman’s mouth shut and then suffocated her using zip ties. He dumped her remains somewhere along Interstate 10 afterward.
The body belonged to a white female between 35 and 55. An attempt was made to rebuild the victim’s face using clay, but the results were inconclusive.
A new facial reconstruction in 2007 and additional anthropological examination of the remains at the University of West Florida the following year were part of a 20-year effort by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the District One Medical Examiner’s Office to identify the victim.
In 2018, the University of Florida attempted to analyze isotopes in samples taken from the body.
Kjellenberg was positively identified thanks to DNA testing performed by specialists at the Othram lab in Texas in March.
The 68-year-old Jesperson admitted to the deaths of eight women in California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Nebraska, and Wyoming between 1990 and 1995.