A Maryland woman who lost her sister over 20 years ago to a violent crime is hoping that large billboards will capture the attention of someone who can help police crack the case.
Jody LeCornu, a college student with big dreams, was just 23 when she was shot dead outside of Baltimore in 1996. Authorities worked feverishly to find the killer, but with lack of evidence, the case has gone cold.
Jenny is willing to do whatever it takes to help solve her twin sister’s case. She’s taken out three billboards in Baltimore, reminiscent of the Oscar-winning movie, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” a film that inspired Jenny to do the same thing.
Jenny was also willing to share family secrets and dark times with CrimeOnline and Atlanta’s Cold Case Research Institute (CCRI), in an effort to explain how childhood trauma played a part in her sister’s drinking issues. Jody was drinking heavily the night she was killed, according to her sister.
Growing Up Twins
In October 1972, Jody was born two minutes before twin sister, Jenny, in a Washington D.C. hospital. They grew up with that special bond that only other twins can understand. They were inseparable. They went to the same classes, had the same friends, and learned from the same teachers.
In early childhood, they led a seemingly idyllic childhood while living on a naval base in Annapolis, Maryland, with their family. Then, while still in elementary school, both girls were sexually assaulted by a man who also lived on the base. The experience sparked a lifetime of addictions for the girls.
“Jody and I were molested when we lived on the U.S. Naval Academy base by a neighbor. We were in elementary school living in the safest place in the world you would think. We roamed free riding our bikes, playing kickball, crabbing, and visiting friends.”
In sixth grade, the twins learned their father, John LeCornu, a former assistant prosecutor in Anne Arundel County, was an alcoholic. Although he went into rehab after a family intervention, John fell off the wagon when he returned home. The twins took his lead.
“Jody and I had our first drink in middle school, with vodka and camel non-filter cigarettes.”
By the age of 17, the twins were experimenting with drugs, followed by eating disorders.
“Jody and I struggled with eating disorders too. I remember starving myself and weighing all the time and then binging – then alcohol and drugs took over.” -Jenny Carrieri
Soon after, the girls were put into a 12-step program. It would mark the first time they had ever been separated. After one month, however, Jenny dropped out of the program. Six months later, Jody followed.
Jenny eventually stopped drinking on her own. She’s been sober now for 24 years, but she still suffers from anxiety, depression and bulimia. Jody suffered the same anxiety and drank to make herself feel better.
Jody didn’t touch drugs, according to Jenny, but she couldn’t shake the craving for the alcohol.
Jody was also afraid of everything, including getting too close to strangers. She always wanted those close to her nearby and almost always asked friends to walk her to her car, which is why the events surrounding her murder seem off to her sister.
“Everything she did [that night] was out of character.”
What We Know About Jody’s Murder
In 1996, Jody was a senior at Towson University, where she studied geriatrics. She worked part-time at Eastern Savings Bank and lived in an apartment off of Gittings Avenue with her boyfriend. The day before her murder, Jody and her boyfriend got into an argument. He asked her to leave the apartment for the night and go stay at her parents’ house.
The boyfriend, who was cleared from any involvement in Jody’s death, later said he regretted ever telling her to leave.
On the night of March 1, Jody spent hours drinking at the Mount Washington Tavern in Baltimore. She was known as a local in the tavern, often chatting it up with the bartender and other employees. When the tavern closed, Jody drove one of the tavern employees home, then stopped by a liquor store and bought more alcohol, according to police.
A little before 4 a.m. on March 2, Jody was sitting alone in her white Honda Accord, in a desolate parking lot at the former Drumcastle Shopping Center, off of the 6400 block of York Road.
No one is sure why Jody decided to sit alone in her car that night. Baltimore police spokesperson, Shawn Vinson, told CrimeOnline that although authorities continue to actively investigate the case, he couldn’t comment on the evidence and information “they may or may not have.”
Previous reports by The Baltimore Sun indicated that witnesses saw a black male with a stocky build talking with Jody at her car right before a shot rang out, according to police. One witness told detectives that the man pulled up in a white BMW and parked near Jody’s car.
Witnesses said the suspect appeared to be anywhere from 5-feet-10-inches tall to 6-feet, weighing around 200 to 220 pounds.
The killer shot through the back seat window while standing beside the car; the bullet shattered Jody’s back. She managed to drive to the York Road Plaza, around 1/4 of mile from the Drumcastle parking lot, and circled around and came to a stop close to a Giant grocery store.
Several witnesses reportedly saw the man follow Jody in the BMW after the shooting. He parked his car, got out, walked to Jody’s car and through the open window on the driver’s side, reached in a grabbed something from her car before fleeing.
Police later confirmed that Jody’s purse was missing. They also said they lifted fingerprints from Jody’s car but at the time, the testing was negative. With new technology, however, such as the M-Vac system and advanced DNA testing, there are more options that could possibly help, according to CCRI.
Jody succumbed to her injuries and died shortly after her car stopped. No drugs were found in here system, according to Jenny.
Why was Jody in the parking lot? Did she plan to sleep in her car after her boyfriend told her not to come home? Was she trying to buy drugs? Who was the man who approached her and why did he shoot her? Was robbery the motive? Was the killer in a stolen BMW?
Here is a short list of some of the things she did the night she died that she would not normally do:
- Drove in the snow: the snow was light but Jody was never a fan of drying in any type of snow.
- Sat alone in her car: Jenny said he sister was always careful and always took safety precautions.
- Declining to call her parents or friends for a place to stay for the night.
Jenny and Jody’s father stayed in contact with authorities handling the case, but when he passed away in 2007, Jenny decided to take over where he left off. In addition to the billboards, a $100,000 reward is waiting for anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the killer.
Meanwhile, in addition to keeping her sister’s case alive, Jenny also dedicates her life to helping others with addiction.
“Let’s face it, if it weren’t for addiction, Jody would have never been in Baltimore and she would have never been sitting in that car alone in the dark that night.”
Anyone with information about the LeCornu’s killing can call Baltimore County Police at 410-887-3943, Maryland’s Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-756-2587, or submit information through the website www.metrocrimestoppers.org.
Check back with CrimeOnline for part two of the story, when Jenny explains why she sued the Maryland Police Department and her frustrations with the case.
[Featured Photo: Jenny and Jody LeCornu/Handout]