October 31, 2002

10/31/02: Chris Jenkins, 21, Minneapolis, MN

"I wish everyday I could go back to that naive place in the world where life was so simple. Where people were inherently good, where the sun shined just a bit brighter. It's not simple. There are really bad people out there and they do really bad things."

- Sara Jenkins, sister of Chris Jenkins

When University of Minnesota student Christopher Jenkins disappeared and his body was found in the Mississippi River, his parents, Jan and Steve Jenkins, embarked on a journey of remarkable courage to seek answers and justice. Through their perseverance, the family was able to uncover clues indicating that Chris may have been abducted and murdered. His official cause of death has been reclassified from accidental drowning to homicide. Charges have yet to be filed in his death.

After a 6 p.m. keg party at his home, Chris Jenkins, his girlfriend, Ashley Rice, and a few friends headed over to the Lone Tree Bar & Grill at 528 Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. The group arrived at the bar between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. and parked the car just south of the bar. Sometime around midnight, Chris Jenkins was reportedly kicked out of the the bar. Witnesses said the head of Lone Tree security instructed staff not to allow Chris back into the bar, despite the 20-degree weather outside. Wearing only his American Indian costume--a brown nylon shirt and pants, slip-shoes, and a headband with a red feather--he was put out on the street. He did not have a coat, and his wallet, cell phone, and keys were inside with his friends.

It was the last time he was seen alive.

After little progress was made by local authorities in finding their son, Jan and Steve Jenkins decided to take matters into their own hands. A possible tip indicated that Chris may have been spotted walking north across the Hennepin Avenue bridge over the Mississippi River. The Jenkinses were able to find surveillance footage of the bridge and have it reviewed.

 "There were two surveillance cameras on the Federal Reserve Bank pointing to the Hennepin Avenue Bridge," says Jan. "This was post 9-11, clearly good equipment. We have written documentation from the supervisor that more than one person viewed the tapes from both cameras late on the 31st and early on November 1. Chris was not seen on the tape. We do not believe Chris walked across that bridge. The supervisor told the FBI that it would be almost impossible for a person to sprint across that bridge and not be seen."

They also hired a private investigator, Chuck Loesch. Loesch found witnesses who reported that a gang of at least 10 men had attacked a man in front of Times Square Pizza (across the street from the bar), in what was thought to be a gang initiation. Although, the time of the incident has not been confirmed--it could have been around the time Chris left the bar.

Two bloodhounds with different handlers were also brought in by the Jenkins family on two separate occasions. Both dogs picked up Chris's scent on the sidewalk in front of the pizza joint where witnesses reported seeing the fight. Both dogs followed the scent into the parking garage next to the pizza joint. And both dogs followed the scent right to the same parking stall. Later, blood drops and a red feather, possibly from Chris's Native American costume, were reportedly found inside the garage.

Recovery and Investigation
Almost four months later, Chris’s body was found snagged on some tree branches in the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. The body was on the east side of the river near the spillway of the St. Anthony Falls Hydroelectrical Laboratory at 30 SE 3rd Street. (See Map.) It could be seen from the 3rd Avenue bridge, floating on its back with its arms in front.

Police initially believed Chris either committed suicide or died accidentally after falling into water. But all those who knew Chris felt differently. Chris was a star athlete--a two-time team captain of his lacrosse team. He was set to graduate with stellar grades from the university's prestigious Carlson School of Management, and had job interviews lined up. He was happy, easy going, very responsible, and he had plans for the future.

The Jenkins family consulted with numerous experts, including global experts in water rescue and recovery, renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, and even reviewed their own son's autopsy photos. They learned that the appearance of Chris's body did not fit with the suicide or accident theories held by the police. Most drowning victims are found face down with their arms out toward their sides, their clothing disheveled, and one or both of their shoes missing. This is because one's natural reaction when drowning is to vigorously paddle the feet and arms and swim. Chris's body was found on it's back, arms crossed in front, his shirt tucked in to his drawstring pants and still wearing both over sized slip-on shoes. He also still had on a necklace, a ring on the left index finger and a ring on the right ring finger.

Case reopened, death reclassified as homicide
When a new police chief, Tim Dolan, was hired for the city of Minneapolis, the Jenkins family brought him the leads uncovered by their private investigator and the new evidence they had found. The chief agreed that the case had not been thoroughly investigated. In 2006, Dolan reopened the case.

That same year, an eyewitness to crime (someone in jail and reportedly facing felony charges for another crime) stepped forward to claim he was present when Chris was thrown off a bridge. The inmate told investigators that his acquaintance, after robbing Chris and finding nothing of value, became angry and threw him off the Hennepin Avenue bridge. It is not known whether the eyewitness was involved in the crime, or only providing information to bargain for leniency, but the claim had other problems.

Photo credit: MN Department of Transportation
If a bridge was involved, Chuck Loesch believed, it could not have been the Hennepin Avenue bridge. The physical layout, which includes a steel beam and suspension cables, would have made it nearly impossible to throw someone over without injury. Jenkins was not found to have any broken bones, meaning that the killer would have had to lift a grown man over the high safety railing and throw him 4- to 5-feet out over the support beam, avoiding the vertical cables in the process. The bridge is brightly lit and has heavy traffic, and no one reported seeing anything unusual on the bridge that night. Cameras with a view of the bridge also did not capture anything suspicious, including Chris walking across the bridge.

Loesch, in fact, believes it unlikely that Chris was thrown from a bridge at all. Given the fall and the river's current, Chris's shoes would not have stayed on his feet.

But where Chris entered the water may be significant: If it was further upstream, it would point to a vehicle being involved in the crime. And Chris's family has said they have various reasons to believe Chris was "thrown in the back of a van - abducted, tortured, and eventually murdered."

In 2006, Chris's death was reclassified as a homicide. During a press conference, Chief Dolan offered the Jenkins family a public apology. But in July 2007, Hennepin County declined to press any charges in the case, citing lack of evidence. The case remains unsolved.

Chris's mother, Jan Jenkins, has written a book about the family's struggle for justice. For more information, check out http://www.legacyofcourage.com/.

Case Facts:
Name/age: Christopher Mark Jenkins, 21
Hometown: Eden Prairie, MN
Residence: Minneapolis, MN
College: University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management
Major: Marketing and entrepreneurial management
Physical description: athletic (goalie and co-captain of lacrosse team)
Recovered: 02/27/03 at 1650 hours in the Mississippi River near the Horseshoe Dam south of the Third Ave. Bridge just above St. Anthony Falls. Cause of death: Drowning.
Manner of death: reclassified as a homicide
Injuries: none visible
Blood Alcohol Content: 0.07 in deep tissue, .12 in heart
Water temperature: 33 F when found
Air temperature: 35 F when found

11 comments:

BoyintheMachine said...

There's a lot of troubling things about the Chris Jenkins case.

To me, the manner of the body fits well with the ritual behavior associated with a serial killer. (By ritual, meaning the killer does something to the body, like a routine and not necesarily relating to the occult.)

Chris was found floating on his back, odd for a drowning, his clothes were tucked in and his shoes were on his feet. This is odd for a drowning.

Chris Jenkin's arms were crossed and he had clumps of his own hair in his closed fists. (DNA test 4 years later)

I also do not believe that Chris was thrown off the bridge. The manner of the body suggests that he was placed into the water and not thrown off a bridge. Not only that, but the manner of the body suggests that Chris was dead when he was placed into the water.

The cops dropped the ball big time with this case. Because it wasn't ruled a homicide, key evidence was destroyed and testimoney was never taken. (For example there were 2 off duty police officers at the bar the night Chris disappeared. It is claimed that they befriended his girlfriend.)

Monique777 said...

Anonymous 1

Hmmmmm....seems the pattern of the other boys that are ending up in water. So, they decide to believe the person who confessed even though the facts don't fit? Doesn't make sense at all.

Anonymous said...

As I countinue to review this case and others the main connection that I see is the numerical dates. I see a lot of Thirteens, on the dates- for example Chris was abducted on Halloween, that is always a creepy night; however the 31st is 13 reversed. Look at the dates- not coincidental. IE the 12th becomes the 13th at Midnite. So if this is a " game " for these killers. It appears that a numerical pattern is part of the madness. Also a lot of the 14's in the dates, so it seems that these horrible murders are scheduled to be near the 13th. Again New Year's Eve is the 31st of January, and obviously a party night- yet 31 is 13 reversed. Just an observation, and creepy regardless. Also my condolences and prayers for any one associated with the young men deceased or missing/presumed deceased. This is a haunting and horrible situation.

Tenneguy said...

I agree with the ac above.Too many patterns to be coincidence.Also another biblical name as he is from Eden Prairie plus a street name with hen repeats itself with other disappearances.Adding all the number of the day of the month with Abel Bolanos and Kaneaukua you get 12.Do the dates of their deaths add up to 13?We only know the last day they were seen.Also campbell and soumakis-adds up to 13.Then you have the name Brandon Swanson that disappeared the 13th .Swanson is another BRAND of Campbell's.The name Ryan Katcher is a pattern within itself-Catcher in The Rye.It does not look like a random set of names and dates.

Anonymous said...

I understand that Chris's body was partially frozen in some ice, floating in the Mississippi, when he was found. Did the Medical Examiner make a determination whether that ice was actually Mississippi River ice or possibly from some other source?

Anonymous said...

There was a spike not just in the number of young men found dead in water at this time,there was also a increase in the number of disappeared in this part of the country ,without even counting the ones found in water.This is not just an indication of a serial killer,but also indicates the killers are looking for an easy target and then having a good laugh about it later every time the police dismiss a drowning or disappearance on alcohol or suicide. I searched several other years for missing and could not find numbers that even came close to the disappearances in Wisconsin and Minnesota at the end of 2002.By finding and easy target ,they lessen their chances of getting caught.By targeting someone known to be depressed or drinking ,they give the cops something else to blame a disappearance or drowning on which leaves Law enforcement with an excuse to not do their job the way they should be doing it.

anon said...

They still keep a lot from the public. For instance the belief Chris was in a van and tortured and not killed right away. A lot of people wondered how this conclusion was reached. The person that reported the body to LE drove a van. Look at the initials he used.

A ex girl friend got threatening e mail messages from an ex boyfriend. She turned him in for killing young men and then using initials that fit the circumstances. This could be the name of the bar, initials of the victim,etc. All you have to do is look at the news and police reports(including the Chris Jenkin's case) to see that in fact an alleged witness did in fact use the same initials as the victim.
The ex boyfriend mentioned above had ties to an area just south of Sheyboygan. A few months after Jenkin's is missing,there was a young man missing in Sheboygan. If you look at the news reports you will see the media did not release the name of the bar or street he was on.

Lisa said...

The use of a van may be a logical assumption based on the area where Chris disappeared. It was in the heart of downtown, very busy. Chris rode to the bar with his friends, and was stranded once he was kicked out. He didn't have a coat, wallet, phone, or house keys. His only choice was to walk somewhere, yet he was not captured on bank surveillance cameras walking across the bridge in the direction of home. Witnesses report a fight taking place outside the parking garage across the street. Scent dogs also located his scent in a parking stall in the garage. Bits of a red feather, presumably from his Halloween costume, were also found. No one reported seeing Chris exiting the garage or walking around later that night. Chris was a strong, athletic guy, so an abduction likely would have taken more than one person, in which case a larger vehicle might have been used. There have also been rumors of a van being used in attempted abductions around this same area. There may be more to it that we just don't know as well.

Audrianna Zyzymagick said...

This case broke my heart when i first heard it and still haunts me today. i didnt know chris or anynof the other boys but i did know that he was murdered and the cops failed to investigate. too many questions were left for an "accidential death" or suicide. i know much more after reading this story but ultimately i fear we as a community very well could have failed chris and his family. that is the real tragedy here.

Angelica Za said...

I wonder why his friends and girlfriend didnt notice him gone, or didnt witness him being kicked out, or search for him after a while. Unless they did, but it is never mentioned. Also how could they miss what happenned, someone shouldve ran after him, stopped they bouncer or at least go outside with a coat or his wallet to get him into a cab or something. How long did it take for them to notice? Also, im guessing the bouncer never came forth to give further info or kept an eye on the young man out im the cold...

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