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Sister, fighting for twin’s justice after 1996 Towson murder, to continue battle via billboards

Jennifer LeCornu Carrieri (left), Linda LeCornu, mother (middle), Joann “Jody” LeCornu (right)
Photo Credit: Jennifer LeCornu.

The sister of a slain Towson University student, who has taken it upon herself to solve the murder of her identical twin killed roughly 23 years ago, is not going away.

Even in 2020, Jennifer LeCornu Carrieri says that while she feels Baltimore County government officials continue to stonewall her efforts to solve the March 1996 murder of her sister, Joann “Jody” LeCornu, she is not stopping until she finds her sister’s killer.

A new billboard, to be erected next week off of Interstate 83 in Baltimore City, adds to the decades-long struggle to get officials to pay attention and solve her sister’s murder, or even provide her family information about the case.

“I’m 100 percent determined and am never going to stop,” Carrieri said. “It’s so heartbreaking for me that she was killed and that I have to battle… My whole life changed and I have never been the same.  Until I find out what happened, I feel that I can’t move on.”

The new red, black and white billboard will display a callout bubble coming from a photo of Jody LeCornu, who was 23-years-old at the time she was killed.  The billboard is a direct message to county officials: “BALTIMORE COUNTY POLICE,  23 YEARS…& MY KILLER IS STILL FREE!”

LeCornu would be 47-years-old this year, but despite meetings Carrieri has had with government officials in Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s administration, and the offices of Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger and Gov. Larry Hogan, Carrieri says that little has been done to make good on their promises that something – anything – would be done to follow up on leads provided in the case.

“No one should have to go through losing their loved ones,” Carrieri told The Gunpowder Gazette. “It’s almost as painful losing her, now having to get justice for her.  And I feel like I’m the criminal even though I am trying to find out who killed Jody. ‘Why won’t you help us?” she said referring to county officials.

During the early morning hours of March 2, 1996, LeCornu left Mt. Washington Tavern in Baltimore where she had spent the evening with friends.

After dropping off a disabled bar employee at his home, she stopped at a liquor store to pick up a six-pack of beer after which she drove to then-Caldor department store which is now the county-owned Drumcastle Building in Towson.

She was struggling at the time with a breakup with her boyfriend that occurred a day earlier and had been in treatment for alcohol and drug addiction years before.

She was anxious and was backsliding into drinking, although her life was stable with a steady receptionist job at a Hunt Valley bank as she simultaneously worked on her degree in gerontology in Towson.

A stocky African-American man walked up to her vehicle in the parking lot and shot LeCornu in the back through a back window, piercing her seat and hitting her in the spine.

She then drove across the street to a parking lot of a Giant Food grocery store where she died of her injuries. But not before the man followed and then robbed LeCornu as she lay dying, reaching across her to pull the emergency brake, then grabbing unidentified items from her Honda Civic, according to a witness.  The man then got back into his vehicle and headed south on York Road.

Despite witnesses, a description of the suspect and the vehicle, surveillance video and nationwide media interest, Baltimore County and the state are silent, according to Carrieri.

And she is hoping that the addition of three new billboards – one to go up on Interstate 83 next week – will catch officials’ attention or prompt those with information to come forward.

She said the billboards are too cost prohibitive to continue to have placed in the county, but she said she may purchase additional ones if she receives the funds through donations.

In a July 2019 Tweet pinned to her Twitter account, Carrieri called out county officials who she said at the time were stonewalling her efforts to solve LeCornu’s murder.  She said that not much has changed since that time.

“I’m not sure which is worse: my identical twin at 23 being shot in the back and dying from a severed spine or #Baltimore County Police covering up her #murder AND all the top officials in #Maryland stonewalling me #coverup…”

Last year, Carrieri reached out to County Executive Olszewski to ask him for a meeting.  When he didn’t respond, she tagged him in a Tweet, asking if he wanted to be featured on a billboard.

The move caught county official’s attention. Carrieri said that former press secretary, T.J. Smith – who is now running for mayor of Baltimore City – called her in for a meeting, but that no further communication from the press office followed.  At the meeting, Carrieri said she was told that, even though there is DNA evidence, the county would use that as a “last resort” in investigating the case.

Olszewski’s press office, whose current press secretary, Sean Narron, went to work for the administration after Carrieri’s initial meeting with Smith, said he is attempting to catch up on the details of the case, but currently does not have “context” in which to respond.  He said his office would be looking into it.

Jennifer Peach, Baltimore County Police Department’s public information officer did not respond to a request for an update by the time this story published. Cpl. Shawn Vinson was out of the office on Monday.

But over the last two years, Carrieri has purchased the larger-than-life messages aimed at two other elected officials when she had two billboards put up – one directed at Gov. Larry Hogan and another at Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.

“Gov. Hogan, will you please help my family find my killer?” one ad read.

“Scott, Shellenberger, Release my records,” read another.

A third offered a $100,000 award to anyone with information that helps solve her sister’s murder. In all, Carrieri said roughly one dozen billboards have been erected for periods of time in recent years. Next week, there will be a total of three.

While the messages initially prompted officials to respond with invitations for meetings, follow-up on promises to pursue the case – beyond those meetings – did not occur despite assurances, Carrieri said.

County and state officials are not only silent in 2020, but she said they are actually strangely unhelpful despite having fingerprints, DNA evidence, surveillance video, witnesses who have been willing to cooperate and a description of the suspect and his vehicle.

It was when her father, a former assistant state’s attorney for Anne Arundel County who focused on drug and violence-related crimes, passed away in 2007, that Carrieri said she picked up where he left off in the fight to bring Jody’s killer to justice.

Despite his position, John LeCornu was unable to help solve his daughter’s case.  He died before getting to see justice for Jody, Carrieri said.

But after initially getting officials’ attention with the billboards placed around Baltimore and surrounding areas, Carrieri says the county has not provided updates.

The man who killed and robbed her sister drove a white BMW. It was snowing that night, but video surveillance from surrounding businesses captured the vehicle. And at least one witness saw the man reach into LeCornu’s car and remove the items. Some Giant Food employees overheard the gunshot.

To date, Carrieri says that she and her mother have spent $30,000 out-of-pocket trying to solve her sister’s murder through the use of billboards and hiring a private investigator.

An inheritance she was left by her grandfather has also been pledged to cover most of a $100,000 reward she has offered to anyone able to help solve the crime.

Nationwide attention, from media and detectives, has added to the momentum in solving the case – but all from outside of Baltimore County.

Carrieri says the county has refused outside help from investigators and others interested in helping solve the murder, including that offered by a former Baltimore City police detective who offered his department’s help to the county over two decades ago. He wrote to Carrieri at the time to say the county declined the city’s assistance.

Carrieir said that she and her family have had “dozens” of offers by private investigators, companies, and documentary filmmakers who have offered to help solve and/or cover the case.  She is currently pitching the idea to a California-based production company for its investigative series.

PEOPLE Magazine published its first story on the unsolved case in 2016. Carrieri said it was then when she saw crime scene photos for the first time. The Baltimore County Police Department released them to PEOPLE Magazine, but not to her or her family.

Even television personality, Dr. Mehmet Oz, attempted to obtain details on the case for the Dr. Oz show. “This was, I have to say, the hardest case we’ve ever had to get information on,” he told the family when he covered the story in October.

NBC News journalist, Kate Snow, picked up the story for her “Relentless with Kate Snow” series on Oxygen in November. Stephen Janis, a Real News Network reporter Snow interviewed said about the case, “There is very little public information.  So, there are a lot of blank spaces.  It’s not just about how little the homicide detectives have done. It’s about how little information I believe has been shared with the public and the family, and how it doesn’t seem that they are being completely forthcoming…”

Carrieri’s own efforts to gather details on the unsolved case have also come up short.

Even she has been unable to obtain the case file involving her sister’s murder from States Attorney Scott Shellenberger’s office.  She said that a detective at the office at one point told her that the files concerning her sister’s murder were “in a closet” somewhere.

The Gunpowder Gazette has since requested the closeted records through a public records request.

Where Carrieri stands now is that she won’t stand for it.  Using money raised by podcaster, Ashley Flowers and Crime Junkie, the new billboard will join two others — one also on Interstate 83 and the other near Baltimore City Hall on Gay Street.

Anyone with any information on the murder of Jody LeCornu is asked to call Metro Crime Stoppers at (866) 756-2587 or the tip line at (410) 200-6284.
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