Born in Columbia Falls, Montana on September 23, 1979, Jennifer Olsen Servo was a vibrant young news reporter with high hopes of becoming the next big thing. She and her ex-boyfriend Ralph Sepulveda moved from Montana to Texas shortly before her tragic death so she could take a job at KRBC in Abilene, Texas.
On September 16, 2002, Servo was found bludgeoned and strangled to death in her bathroom by Abilene Police Department after having been missing for just over 2 days. When she did not get in contact with her friends and loved ones, people were sent to check on her.
The Abilene Police Department found no murder weapon at the scene, and no forced entry, so it is likely that Servo knew her attacker. She also had bruising that was consistent with sexual assault, yet they found her fully clothed. The crime was, at the very least, sexually motivated.
Shortly after her body was found, two suspects came into the picture: her tall, dark, and handsome ex-boyfriend, Ralph Sepulveda, who was a former Army ranger and Reserve training instructor, and possible new love interest, local weatherman, Brian Travers.
Both Sepulveda and Travers’ DNA was found in the apartment, only their DNA, so it is safe to say that one of the two is harboring a dark secret.
Brian Travers and Jennifer Servo were friends who would occasionally hook up, and it was becoming clear that Travers was into Servo in a way that the feeling was not mutual between the two. Brian Travers admitted that he and Servo had been out the night she was murdered but claimed that she thought someone was following them. However, when asked if she wanted to be walked to the door, according to Travers, she declined. The only problem with that story is that shortly after Travers “dropped her off,” she made a phone call to her ex back in Montana named Dave Warren. She never mentioned that she had been followed to him or seemed shook up. Seeing as the crime was sexually motivated, so what if Jennifer Servo and her attacker had hooked up before her murder, would this account for the “sexual assault” that the cops were so puzzled about? They found servo with her clothes on, so she had put them back on, and if she put them back on, did she possibly turn her attacker down or bruise his ego? Did he then fly into a rage?
Then you have Ralph Sepulveda on the other side of the coin. Tall, dark, dangerous even. He was known as the “bad boy” type. Jennifer had met him just weeks before they decided to move to Texas together. A few weeks after they moved to Texas, she found out that he had left his fiancée in Montana and had a child that he never saw. This shook Servo and she ended the relationship. She also had mentioned to a co-worker that Sepulveda liked to choke her during sex, is it such a leap that he would go too far? Was the murder out of rage, or a crime of passion? Was it an accident?
Sepulveda didn’t seem phased when he was told about Jennifer’s death and also didn’t even ask how she had died. Furthermore, he cooperated for only a short time with police before he refused to have any more contact with them. He also refused to take a polygraph test and they could not validate his whereabouts during the time Jennifer Servo was murdered. Does this make him a murderer, though?
The Abilene Police Department seems to think so. They have relentlessly pursued him as the prime suspect in Jen’s murder and failed to look at the bigger picture. They claim that they’ve nearly cleared Travers from all suspicion and that they have a circumstantial case against Sepulveda, but not enough physical evidence to get a conviction.
They should also look at Travers though. He has played the “good guy,” and “cooperated throughout the investigation.” He even seemed distraught when he found out Jennifer had been murdered. Was he the ultimate actor, or was he genuinely upset over her death?
The crime was sexually motivated, so why is it such a stretch that she could have turned her attacker down in some way that made him fly into a rage? It was a personal murder, and seeing as only Travers and Sepulveda’s DNA was found, that means someone is lying.
What better way to throw suspicion off of you than to cooperate fully with the investigation so no one looks at you as a suspect? However, don’t just throw Travers under the bus either. He could be genuinely upset about her murder, but there was a clear motive in his case where there was none in Sepulveda’s. Sepulveda hadn’t even been in contact with Servo for 3 weeks before her murder, or so Jennifer told her best friend Dara Riordan.
Justice for Jennifer
Regardless of who committed the crime, as far as local murders go, hers was one of the most shocking and brutal crimes in the Abilene area and remains unsolved today. There has been no justice for Jennifer Olsen Servo for over 18 years, and with Travers having moved on, and Sepulveda refusing to cooperate with the police any longer, the future is dimming on this cold case. If you have any information on the case, please call the Abilene Crime Stoppers at (325) 676-8477
© 2020 Ethan King
Ethan King (author) from Abilene, TX, USA on August 06, 2020:
Yes! Justice for Jennifer, this story has circulated around where I live because I am only about an hour from where this occurred and I was also born there. I remember this happening when I was younger and so I thought I would write about it in hopes that maybe someone will come forward with information.
Mariah Bruce from Portland, OR on August 06, 2020:
Justice for Jennifer!!!