Sunday, August 7, 2011

Discovery Channel to Feature Jessica Carpenter Case

By Greg Rickabaugh
Publisher, The Jail Report

Normally, I am the one interviewing people about crime. Last week, I got the camera turned on me as producers with The Discovery Channel came to Aiken to film a story on the 2000 murder of Jessica Carpenter (bottom photo).

Producers talked to police, family and others about the dramatic case. They interviewed me about the community’s reaction to the brutal rape and strangulation of the high school student. I wrote about a dozen stories on the case while covering the Aiken beat for The Augusta Chronicle.

An hour-long special will air on an upcoming episode of “Cold Blood,” an Investigation Discovery (I.D.) show entering its fifth season. Producers became fascinated with the Carpenter case because it was such a roller-coaster ride. It had all the twists and turns of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

Jessica Carpenter was 17 when her mother returned to their Crosland Park home on Aug. 4, 2000 and found her daughter’s body. The teen had been sexually assaulted and strangled with a phone cord before the killer sliced her throat with a knife.

Jessica died of asphyxiation from strangulation and cuts to the throat, the coroner said.

It was an agonizing two years for the family, investigators and the community as the case remain unsolved.

The case was not without suspects. Over that period, Aiken Public Safety investigators interviewed over 300 people and obtained DNA samples from 94 people, including friends, neighbors, co-workers and even serial killer Reinaldo Rivera. None matched.

Just days after the two-year anniversary of her killing, authorities linked Georgia inmate Robert Franklin Atkins to the crime after his DNA was put into a Georgia database.

It turned out that despite an extensive criminal history, Atkins was working as a deliveryman for Airborne Express in the Aiken area. Police say he talked his way into the Carpenter family home by asking to use the phone. He pretended to be talking to someone, and after hanging up, grabbed Jessica and dragged her around the house.

After his arrest, Atkins apologized to the family, struck a deal to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison.

In court, the victim’s sister, Amy Carpenter, spoke about the agony of the case: “We spent two years not knowing who did this, constantly looking at friends, co-workers, and neighbors with suspicious eyes.”

Requiring felons in Georgia to submit DNA samples for a database was the key to stopping a killer and bringing justice to the family.

Ironically, it took South Carolina another six years to create a similar DNA database using all felony suspects.

“We’re glad we’ve got DNA,” Charlie Carpenter, Jessica’s father, said in court in 2006. “We know we got the right person that murdered Jessica. We know in our hearts tonight that the person that murdered Jessica is behind bars and we’re never going to see him again ... and he’s going to come out feet first in a pine box.”


  1. this is nasty i wish the best for ur family jessica im sure u were a sweet sweet girl R.I.P

  2. You don't strike deals with guys like this. There is no reason he still walks the earth, even in prison. I cannot imagine what this family has gone through and will forever.RIP Miss Carpenter

  3. It broke my heart to watch her parents, sisters, friends and the investigators talk about this case. How any human being can be so cruel is beyond my understanding. Such brutality won't go unpunished. Thank you to all who helped solve this case and for never giving up.
    Rest In Peace Jessica.

  4. Im watching Cold Blood right now as I type an I watch these shows everyday no exaggeration an I also live in Ladson located in South Carolina an I found this to be very interesting that I just turned 17 in November an this story hurted more then anyone I ever tuned into so that what drive me too look it up so I just want to pay my dues too Jessica an her family Rest In Paradise! OAN: Im not being rude but I belive he deserve the death penalty!

  5. I agree 100% with a previous comment. Why in the world does the Justice system work the way it does? He should not be given a choice in whether he wants life in prison or the death penalty! Jessica wasn't given a choice! When there is no question of who committed the crime...... I say "DEATH PENALTY"!!!!!!
    To the family, My heart goes out to you!
    Just remember.... You will see your baby girl again.

  6. What a beautiful young woman. So sad that her life was taken so brutally. And I agree with other posters here...he should NEVER have been given the chance of "life" or "death". That is total bullsh*t. What a scumbag. I am a firm believer in "An Eye For An Eye". He should be killed the EXACT same way he killed poor Jessica. And the poor mother having to find her daughter like that? I don't even know if I could go on living if something like that happened to one of my kids. My heart goes out to your family Jessica. May you rest in heavenly peace and you will see each other one day again ;-)

  7. Why cant the killer have the same crime done too him an eye for an eye that ugly piece of trash dog I would love to give the killer the same thing strangulation and too cut his throat lets not forget the rape this monster pig her poor mom the poor kid.shouldve never let this.scum in my child is never home alone never my heart.goes out to think this.animal loved the thrill.thats why he killed her then droppef off a package at the local pd hoping to get caught.the savagely psycopath makes crawl stop payers money and kill this animal what.a low life one positive thing thankgod for DNA testing it nabbed this ugly fugly loser......

  8. I read in another article that the family agreed to the plea so as to avoid any future appeals, etc. The punishment sentenced assures they will never have to see this person again - in court or anywhere else. I only hope it has given them sone sort of closure and allowed them to focus on tgeir daughter instead of ever having to waste a breath on this man again.

  9. he was given a life sentence due to his co operation in closing this case. they had his dna of course, but he told he did it and where to find the knife he used. of course he could have made them prove a case against him but he got a deal by telling the facts. that however does not make him less of a killer or nice guy but simply how our justice system works. people dont always agree with cases decided by a 12 person jury and the verdict guilty or not. thats our system.

  10. I'm from Israel and I saw the program on how
    Jessica was murdered and it's heartbreaking and I hope The killer would not see the light of day all his life, suffer and will die in prison
    yehuda from israel