Originally created 11/29/00

Reward for killer is offered



AIKEN - Virgie Carpenter can't go to her grave without knowing who killed "Jessie."

That's why Jessica Carpenter's grandmother and great uncle, James Grubbs, have pooled money from years of investing to find a killer who's been on the loose for 117 days.

Anxious to bring him to justice, Mrs. Carpenter and Mr. Grubbs are offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever killed Jessica Lynne in her Crosland Park home Aug. 4. If she had lived, the teen-ager would have been a senior at Aiken High School this year.

The day she died, she had picked up a neighbor from basketball camp and cooked a box of macaroni and cheese for lunch.

The day of her funeral was the day she probably would have registered for classes.

"We know the police are doing everything they can, but my mother says she doesn't want to go to her grave not knowing who killed Jessica," said her father, Charlie. "We want the killer caught, so we're trying to speed things up ... and praying that God provides the answer for us."

The Carpenter family is asking anyone who knows anything about their daughter's death to call the Aiken Department of Public Safety at (803) 642-7620, or Aiken County Crime Stoppers at (803) 642-1798.

Public Safety Capt. Tom Galardi said Tuesday that his department is continuing to follow leads and comb through dozens of clues, no matter how small. And one detective is on the case full time. "We're going to solve this case, no question about it," he said.

When Reinaldo J. Rivera was arrested in October for attacking an 18-year-old south Augusta woman just a year older than Jessica, Aiken police and the Carpenters suspected him in the slaying. But DNA taken from Mr. Rivera didn't match samples taken from the crime scene.

Even so, Mr. Rivera still hasn't been completely ruled out.

"It is our constant prayer for this crime to be solved and justice be brought forth," Mr. Carpenter said.

Reach Chasiti Kirkland at (803) 279-6895.