Jennifer Long

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Above: Long, circa 1998

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: January 22, 1998 from Kansas City, Missouri
  • Classification: Non-Family Abduction
  • Date of Birth: December 22, 1981
  • Age: 16 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'9, 170 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue eyes. Long has a chicken pox scar on her right cheek.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A white t-shirt, a green and black jacket, jeans and tennis shoes.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Long was last seen at East High School in Kansas City, Missouri on January 22, 1998. She was a sophomore at the school at the time. She attended her first two morning classes, then got into a fight with some other students and left the campus at 9:30 a.m. Long apparently went to a nearby grocery store afterwards, where she met Wesley Ira Purkey, a local handyman who had interviewed for a plumbing job in the area that morning. She got into his white 1989 Ford pickup truck and has never been heard from again.

    Initially, authorities believed Long left of her own accord. She had an unstable home life, and she had recently transferred from Ruskin High School and felt unsafe in her new school. However, she was about to take her driver's license test, and her family maintained that she would never have run away from home. Eventually her disappearance was reclassified as an abduction.

    Purkey confessed to Long's murder in December 1998, while he was in jail awaiting trial for murdering an elderly woman in her home. He has a long criminal record and was addicted to alcohol and drugs in 1998. He stated he would assist in the investigation if he was transferred from a state prison to a federal prison. He was charged in Long's death in October 2001. Purkey stated he had forcibly abducted Long, taken her to his home in Lansing, Kansas, raped her and stabbed her to death. He claimed he dismembered her body and burned it in a fireplace. He led investigators to the place where he said he discarded Long's jawbone and her undergarments. Authorities searched several areas for Long's remains, but never found anything.

    Purkey was convicted of Long's murder in 2003. A photo of him is posted below this case summary. During the penalty phase of his trial, he changed his story slightly: he still admitted to killing Long, but said he had not abducted her and she had gone to his home willingly. He said he fabricated the kidnapping part of the story because he wanted Long's murder to be considered a federal crime and prosecuted in federal court. He was sentenced to death and is awaiting execution. Purkey apologized to Long's father before his sentence was handed down.

    There was a report that Long's remains were found in January 2004, but the report was false and she is still missing. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.

    Purkey
    Above: Wesley Ira Purkey

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Kansas City Police Department
    816-234-5000

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    Source Information
    The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
    CNN
    The Lawrence Journal-World
    The Chanute Tribune
    The Wichita Eagle
    The Kansas City Star
    U. S. Attorney Western District of Missouri
    The Associated Press
    Missouri Missing

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    Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated May 4, 2011; details of disappearance updated.

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