Details of Disappearance
Jeanna was rollerblading with a friend in her hometown of Fargo, North Dakota during the evening hours of June 28, 1993. A police officer saw the two girls stop at a local convenience store at approximately 10:30 p.m.
According to Jeanna's friend, they headed back towards their homes shortly thereafter. Jeanna's friend said that she arrived at her own residence and watched Jeanna rollerblade to the corner of north 15th Avenue and north 4th Street. Her friend went inside and Jeanna has never been seen again.
She never arrived at her family's house, which was only a few hundred feet away from the corner. Jeanna's family was initially unconcerned when she didn't arrive home, as they thought she was with other relatives. They reported her missing the next afternoon. She wasn't carrying any money when she disappeared.
Jeanna's neighbor, Kyle Kenneth Bell, confessed to molesting and murdering Jeanna in January 1995, nearly two years after her disappearance. A photo of him is posted with this case summary.
Bell stated that he sexually assaulted Jeanna in his garage during the evening she vanished. She threatened to tell her parents about the incident, and Bell hit her. He claimed her death was accidental; he maintained that she slipped while wearing her Rollerblades after he struck her and died as a result of her injuries.
Bell said that he dumped Jeanna's body in the Sheyenne River shortly after her death. A search of the area began in 1995 after his confession, but no evidence was located. Bell claimed that his confession was coerced by authorities and recanted his statements in May 1995. He had already been convicted of molesting other young girls at the time.
Meanwhile, the continuing search of the Sheyenne River produced a piece of rope and a cinder block in 1996. The materials matched elements found inside Bell's residence and it is believed they may have been used in the disposal of Jeanna's remains.
Authorities matched several hairs found in Bell's truck to Jeanna's DNA and he was convicted of her murder in 1999. Bell was sentenced to life in prison. He escaped from a transport van in New Mexico in October 1999, less than one month after he was sentenced in the crime.
Bell's whereabouts remained a mystery until January 9, 2000, when he was arrested in Dallas, Texas. America's Most Wanted profiled Bell on its television show the weekend prior to his capture. He was recognized by a viewer of the program as Christopher Larson, an alias Bell employed during his time as a fugitive. Bell has since been imprisoned.
Jeanna has never been recovered and searches for her body have been discontinued due to financial constraints. Her mother died in 2009, aged fifty-eight.