Writing & Publishing student’s writing and research helps crack 37-year-old cold case

JKGMFA in Writing & Publishing student Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons is gaining national notice for her work spotlighting a 37-year-old homicide and kidnapping case in California that has led to a major arrest.

Jennifer, of Pleasant Hill, California, has written and researched extensively about the cold case surrounding the murder of 14-year-old Suzanne Bombardier in nearby Antioch in 1980.  The case took a dramatic turn on December 8 when police arrested a suspect

Jennifer became interested in the Bombardier case after coming across her headstone while visiting her grandparents’ graves in 2013. Driven by curiosity, she began researching Bombardier’s story on her blog, which led to stories in Salon and other national publications. Her work drew the attention of Gregory Glod and Ron Rackley, former Antioch Police detectives. They were able to revive the case with local authorities, leading to this month’s arrest of Bacom. Both Glod and Rackley have publicly credited Jennifer for helping renew interest in the unsolved crime. 

“It was a case that I became obsessed with having grown up in the Bay Area of California. This was never a subject that I thought I would be writing about. I’m not a journalist; I usually write about pop culture. But Suzanne’s story and the fact that it was unsolved and people had forgotten about it made me want to work really hard to bring it to light. I’m so happy they made an arrest,” Jennifer said.  

She began the two-year MFA in Writing & Publishing program at VCFA in 2016, developing her writings about the Bombardier case into a longer-form memoir that will be her graduate thesis. She worked with faculty members Mary Ruefle, Liz Powell, Trinie Dalton, Porochista Khakpour, and Jessica Hendry Nelson on her thesis, which she hopes to publish as a book. Currently, Gibbons is looking for a literary agent.