Jesse Timmendequas Trial: 1997 - Clues And Conflicting Stories Point To Suspect, Timmendequas Convicted, Defense Pleads Mitigating Factors
Defendant: Jesse Timmendequas
Crimes Charged: Murder, kidnapping, rape, sodomy
Chief Defense Lawyers: Barbara R. Lependorf, Roy B. Greenman
Chief Prosecutors: Kathyrn Flicker, Lewis Korngut
Judge: Andrew J. Smithson
Place: Trenton, New Jersey
Date of Trial: May 5-June 20, 1997
SIGNIFICANCE: Because of the publicity in the wake of Megan Kanka's murder, most states now require that citizens be notified in advance if a sex offender plans to move into their neighborhood.
In July 1994 seven-year-old Megan Kanka was living in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, with her parents and two siblings. Unknown to them, twiceconvicted sex offender Jesse Timmendequas had moved in across the street, along with Brian Jenin and Joseph Cifelli, two men with similar records whom he had met in prison. On July 29, Mrs. Kanka took a nap at about 6:30 P.M. While she slept, Megan went down the street to visit a friend, and when Mrs. Kanka awoke she could not find her. The Kankas began asking their neighbors if they had seen Megan, and a number said that they had seen the girl. Timmendequas told the Kankas he had seen Megan with a friend earlier in the day when they stopped to talk to him about his new boat, which was parked in front of his house. Soon after Megan was discovered to be missing, the Kankas called the police. They arrived at 8:49 P.M., searched the Kankas' property, and questioned the neighbors, including Timmendequas. Now he said that he had seen Megan riding her bicycle about 2:30 P.M.This conflicted with his earlier statement, so the police asked him if he had seen her at any other time that day. He replied that he had also seen her riding her bicycle between 5:30 and 6:00, but that his roommates were out shopping and would not have seen her. At 10:00 P.M. the police searched the house, boat, and property where Timmendequas lived and found nothing.
At 12:30 A.M., detectives got Cifelli's mother's written consent to search the house again, and they also began questioning the three men separately. Although the detectives found nothing incriminating in the house, they became suspicious of Timmendequas because he was sweating and shaking as they questioned him. Timmendequas's nervousness, his lack of alibi for the time of Megan's disappearance, and the fact that he changed his story about when he had seen her prompted the police to take him to the station for further questioning.
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