Jennifer “Jenny” Webb, 32, was murdered on August 30, 2011, in Buena Vista, Michigan. She was 8.5 months pregnant with a son, who she had named Braxton. Police Officer Kenneth Bluew, 36, was found guilty of her murder.
Jenny Webb was a 32-year-old woman who lived in Buena Vista, Michigan. Her friends and family describe her as fun-loving and charismatic. She had a great job and owned her own home. She was a person who could always be counted on to lend a helping hand. Her best friend, Andrea King, described her as “the most loving and happiest person who you’d ever want to meet.”
According to Jenny’s mother, Dawn Webb, Jenny had initially been very surprised when she learned she was five months pregnant. Jenny told her family and closest friends that the father was Kenneth Bluew, a police officer with the Buena Vista Township Police Department, whom she had known for approximately ten years. She had explained that she became pregnant under casual circumstances and believed that he was separated from and not living with his wife, though this was not true; Bluew was still married. Jenny intended to name her son Braxton and raise him as a single parent.
On the afternoon of August 30, 2011, Jenny had been at her friend Andrea King’s house, helping her with her newborn twin girls. Jenny left Andrea’s house, telling her friend that she was meeting her baby’s father to discuss details about the upcoming birth, including listing him on Braxton’s birth certificate and child support. Jenny left, saying that she would see her the next day.
A few hours later, Jenny’s Pontiac Aztec was found on the deserted Outer Road, Buena Vista Township, near the practice gun firing range commonly used by the local police department.
County dispatch and Officer Tim Patterson had both been trying to get a hold of fellow police officer Kenneth Bluew for an hour and a half. Bluew was not responding to radio communications. Patterson had driven to Outer Road on the off chance that Bluew might be there. He came upon a horrific scene.
Jenny’s vehicle was there, along with Bluew’s police car. Bluew got out of his police car and stated that they “had a body”. The back door of the victim’s car was open. There was a brown extension cord that was tied to the vehicle’s roof luggage racks. The opposite end of the extension cord was tied around the neck of a female who was lying on the ground. The victim was not breathing, and her lips were blue. Bluew searched her purse for her identification and found a supposed suicide note. While at the scene, Bluew stated “oh god, I know this girl.”
Initially, investigators believed Jenny Webb’s death was a suicide, but as more evidence was processed, they quickly determined that foul play was apparent. Investigators noted the uncharacteristic behavior of Ken Bluew. He was brought in for questioning. Investigators noticed scratches on his arm, and a scratch next to his right eye. Bluew explained he had received the scratches from his dog a couple of days before. In a statement given by another officer, he had said that he had had lunch with Bluew earlier that day and Bluew had no scratches or marks on him.
The Evidence Told the Story
Once the crime scene was processed and the crime lab finished processing all the DNA evidence, officers were horrified at the story that the results told. Investigators believe Jenny met Bluew in a secluded area. While there, Bluew attacked Jenny, placing her in a chokehold that strangled her. During the struggle, Jenny scratched Bluew and bit a sizeable chunk out of the tip of one of his fingers. He placed her body in the backseat of her own vehicle and drove her to a secondary location, which was a very short distance to Outer Road. Once he had moved her there, Bluew staged the scene to look like a suicide. During this staging, blood from his finger was transferred via multiple bloody fingerprints in the back of her vehicle, and on the extension cord. Investigators asked Bluew for the uniform he had been wearing that night. He provided them with a uniform that was freshly laundered. After searching his personal vehicle, they found another uniform under the back seat, which contained DNA from both him and Jenny.
After canvassing the area, detectives found the first location where they believed the murder had taken place. Evidence gathered from the ground included a cigarette butt with Bluew’s DNA, a charm from a necklace with Jenny’s DNA, and a drop of blood that tested as Jenny’s. Detectives believe that when he was strangling her, her nose bled.
The crime lab found a tip of a rubber/latex glove that was tangled up in Jenny’s clothes. Inside of the torn piece were blood smears which tested positive for Bluew’s DNA.
Investigators believed the suicide note was fake. According to Jenny’s mother, Dawn, she believes that if Jenny were to write a suicide note, it would have been “handwritten in pink or purple gel pen with glitter”. This particular note was black typed print, single-spaced, and set in a #10 font. The language used in the note was also uncharacteristic of Jenny. On further processing, detectives found 14 clear separate fingerprints on the backside of the note; all of which were identified as Ken Bluew’s. Interestingly, these fingerprints showed no obvious marks or voids, while his fingerprints taken directly after the crime showed a large void on the tip of his right index finger. This led investigators to believe that he had written the note before she had been attacked. This proved premeditation.
Ken Bluew was arrested and arraigned on September 13, 2011.
Ken Bluew was the son of a Detroit police officer who served the city for 28 years before his death in 2006. Bluew followed in his father’s footsteps and began working for the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department in 1997. He accepted a position with the Buena Vista Police Department in 1999. From 2006 to 2008, Bluew served as Police Chief for Tittabawassee Township. He returned to the Buena Vista Police Department, where he worked until the time of his arrest. Ken Bluew was married to Lisa, and they had a young son. Lisa filed for divorce immediately after Bluew was arrested for Jenny’s murder.
In October 2011, just two months after the murder, it took the jury only one hour of deliberation. Former Buena Vista Township Police Officer, Kenneth Bluew was found guilty of 4 felony charges including first-degree premeditated murder, assault of a pregnant individual with the intent to cause miscarriage or stillbirth, and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He was given a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the murder conviction, 65-100 years for the assault conviction, and a two-year prison sentence per each felony firearm conviction.
Bluew had appealed his charges. The assault charge was reduced to 18 years and nine months to 47 years. Bluew had hoped to have his murder conviction overturned, stating his trial attorney did not provide him effective trial. The court denied his appeal, citing the overwhelming amount of evidence that proved his guilt.