Bakersfield, California


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Chrissie Cole
Chrissie Cole
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Parents of Jessica Lunsford Plan Lawsuit Against Sheriff's Office

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Jessica Lunsford’s brutal and tragic death made national news. The nine-year-old girl was kidnapped from her home on February 23, 2005. Three weeks later, following a massive search, authorities discovered her body in a grave located about 150 yards from her home. She had been kidnapped, raped and buried alive.

John Couey, a registered sex offender, was sentenced to death last year for her murder.

Just over three years later, Jessica’s parents are planning to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, over allegations of neglect.

The agencies’ negligence “directly and indirectly led to the death of Jessica Lunsford,” read the intent-to-sue letter sent a day earlier by Lunsford and his ex-wife, Angela Wright.

At the news conference, Lunsford deflected questions about his motivations for suing. In an interview afterward, he offered only a veiled criticism of the sheriff’s handling of the case.

“We thank people everyday of our lives for the things they’ve done for us,” he said. But “then we learn … and we make more changes because sometimes we learn more than we need to know.”

Those people close to the case believe the lawsuit will likely include two core issues: whether or not authorities adequately tracked Couey, a registered sex offender, before Jessica’s disappearance.

Also, how authorities could have missed Jessica, if she was alive inside Couey’s residence for days while officials investigated the area and surrounding homes.