Jessica Roach Murder: How Did She Die? Who Killed Her?

Image Credit: CNN

As a crime drama series that follows drug dealer turned prison informant Jimmy Keene as he tries to coax a confession from a suspected serial killer, ‘Black Bird’ is as baffling as it is gripping. That’s because this Apple TV+ original not only shines a light upon their personal lives but also places a particular focus on the harrowing 1993 disappearance and death of teenager Jessica Roach. So now, if you wish to learn more about the latter — including details of her passing, the ensuing investigations, the individual responsible, and the aftermath of it all — we’ve got you covered.

How Did Jessica Roach Die?

At the tender age of 15, aspiring pilot Jessica “Jessi” Lynn Roach was a typical young girl enjoying her experiences as a high school sophomore when everything turned upside down. It was reportedly around 3:30 pm on September 20, 1993, that she vanished a quarter-mile away from her rural Georgetown home while riding her new bicycle, never to be seen or heard from again. Her sister was the one to notice the eerie quiet on the roadway nearly an hour later, driving her to rush home to their parents, who instantly filed a missing person’s report, but it was already too late.

Image Credit: CNN

Despite extensive search efforts by her loved ones, volunteers, and officials alike, Jessica’s decomposing, ravaged remains were recovered from a cornfield weeks later — on November 8, 1993. The odd part, though, is that this field was not in her home state of Illinois but across the border, near the town of Perrysville in Indiana, which made ascertaining the exact place of her passing difficult. It was evident the young teen had been abducted for malicious reasons, yet since a farmer’s combine had accidentally crushed her body, experts couldn’t even determine her cause of death.

Who Killed Jessica Roach?

Almost as soon as Jessica’s remains were located, a witness reportedly came forward to claim he’d seen a man walking out of the cornfield and towards a van on the night of her murder. However, because of a lack of additional details, it wasn’t until a year later that this tip proved fruitful, leading the Vermilion County officials directly to Wabash, Indiana native Larry Hall. It had come to light that a two-tone Dodge van had been reported several times in nearby counties over the past couple of years (1993 and 1994) for following young girls, and the vehicle was registered to Larry.

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According to lead detective Gary Miller, Larry himself raised further suspicions during his initial questioning by immediately flinching once faced with an ordinary photograph of Jessica. “He turned to his right and put his hand up over his face like he didn’t want to see the picture,” the official said in a 2012 CNN special report, “[then he] told me he didn’t think he’d ever seen that girl.” Nevertheless, Larry ended up confessing and confirming all hypotheses concerning the teen’s cause of death as well as his motives when he was called in again for a follow-up mere weeks later.

“I tied her up, but I can’t remember with what. I took her pants off,” Larry told investigators before conceding he’d raped Jessica, led her into the woods, and then strangled her to death. “I laid her up against a tree and put a belt around her neck [until] she stopped breathing,” he added, admitting that he’d done it from behind because he didn’t want to see her face as she died. Then, without being directly prompted, the suspected serial killer spoke about hurting several other women, only to recant every bit of his statements the next day by claiming they were his dreams.

“All of the girls looked alike,” Larry said during his interrogation. “I cannot remember all of them. I picked up several girls in other areas, but I can’t remember which ones I hurt.” With this and the circumstantial evidence recovered from his home/van, including newspaper clippings of the case, violently altered pornographic images, and notes implying he was actively looking for more victims, he was convicted. Owing to the cross-border aspect, along with the lack of clarity regarding Jessica’s place of death, the federal court was the one to set the charge of kidnapping for purposes of sexual gratification against Larry. This is the only matter the suspected serial killer has ever been convicted for.

Read More: How Many People Has Larry Hall Killed? How Many Bodies Were Found?