It’s an instance of life imitating art, but it’s also a matter of life and death.
Inspired by the 2017 film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Jenny Carrieri has been renting billboards since October 2018 in the hopes of finding the person responsible for killing her twin sister, Jody LeCornu, in Baltimore in 1996.
Carrieri told HuffPost the Oscar-winning film had a profound impact on her. In it, a grieving woman, played by Frances McDormand, rents billboards to shame her local police department into working harder to find the person responsible for her daughter’s killing.
Carrieri could relate; like McDormand’s character, she has had less than stellar experiences working with ― or rather not working with ― Baltimore police.
“Over the years, we’ve really wondered if they messed something up or if they’re hiding something, and I kind of wanted to push that theory to the side and just be positive, but I can’t tell you how many people come up to me ― reporters, random people ― just like, ‘Something’s not right about the way she died,’” Carrieri said. “Anything can happen anywhere, but it was such a shock where she was killed. Just like, ‘What? This doesn’t happen here.’”
It’s a mystery she has been grappling with for 23 years, since the night LeCornu was shot in her car while sitting in a parking lot. The killing and the resulting journey for justice have left Carrieri with spells of depression and put a strain on her family life. Still, she said she is unable ― and unwilling ― to give up.
“Trying to balance [my search] with my family and my husband, trying to be healthy and not to go overboard is the hardest part,” she said. “I feel like it’s taken up a lot of my time over the years with the lawsuit and interviews. My oldest will be a senior next year — am I spending enough time with him? Am I going to regret this later on? But how can I let go of it? If people call me and want to do an interview, I’m not going to say no, because what if this is it?”
Since renting the first billboard, Carrieri has rented others. The first was up for six weeks, and the others are will be up through the end of March, though she hopes to extend them. She said she has plans to put up another, which will call out Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.
Carrieri, a mother of three, said she hopes public attention from the billboards will help put her in a position to aid others going through the same thing that she and her family have had to endure all these years. Beyond elevating her sister’s case and hopefully opening the door for others like it to be solved, Carrieri said, the experience has helped her grieve in a way she hadn’t before.
“I didn’t really deal with her death, and I don’t think I’ve ever truly dealt with it, so I think in doing all this, I feel really good when I’m doing something toward her case,” she said. “I just reached out to another newspaper here today, and I really feel like it’s a healing process.”
Carrieri has appeared on television, on the radio and in countless newspapers discussing her unorthodox way of appealing to the powers that be in the case. She said some tips have come in as a result of her efforts, but she doesn’t have much information about them. “The detectives don’t tell me much,” she said.
In a phone call with HuffPost, Shawn Vinson, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Police Department, said the department has been in continual contact with the family. “As of right now, we have not received any credible tips or information that have been successful in leading to identification or a suspect or any additional witnesses, but we continue to hope that the billboards will lead to a break in the case,” he said.
Of course, the goal of the billboard is to make headway on ― and hopefully solve ― her sister’s killing. “I feel like I’m completely unsettled. I describe it like a wound that hasn’t healed,” she said. “It would mean everything. It would just be unbelievable if this ended up helping with the case.”
To learn more about Carrieri’s efforts and the case, head to the Justice for Jody website.