Now he`s asking for your help finding the hit and run driver who killed her and the unusual car he turned into a murder weapon.
“She was like me, reserved until she got to know you and then she was like abundantly, ‘hey I’m your best friend,’” said Lance Bedingfield whose 14 year old daughter, Jennifer, was killed by a hit-and-run driver along Highway 515 in Kent. He continues, “She was my inspiration. She gave me the ability to do better and to strive for better. She brought out the best in me.”
It was the day before Mother’s Day in 1999. Jennifer and her father rode their bikes to get a card for her mom. They were on their way home when the unthinkable happened. “She was on my right-hand side when we looked both ways and it was getting dusk and we didn’t see any headlights so we decided, well I decided to cross the street,” Bedingfield recalls.
“There was a witness who was next to the vehicle a few seconds before the collision and they were both heading northbound,” Det. Sgt. Stacy Moate with the Washington State Patrol says. She says seconds before Jennifer was hit the vehicle in question was driving erratically. “They saw the driver leaning over reaching around inside the car, then they saw him sit up and just take off at a high rate of speed and that witness said the car was a little bit out of control, not necessarily leaving its lane but weaving back and forth.”
Bedingfield remembers, “There was really no time to act or respond. The car swerved back out into the street and swerved back in and then hit my daughter. It stopped a few feet from where she was hit, stopped and as I was holding Jennifer, I looked up, I seen the car and then it just took off.”
Jennifer died a few moments later. The driver never got out of his car. “Her last words to me was ‘dad,’” Bedingfield remembers.
The driver got away, but parts of the car were left behind. Det. Sgt. Moate says, “There was vehicle parts and debris left at the scene which actually gave us a year, make and model of the vehicle that we’re looking for, we just haven’t been able to find that vehicle.” The vehicle is somewhat unusual, believed to be a 1980 to 1982 Datsun 310, possible dark blue or brown with damage to the driver side headlight and grill area. Det. Sgt. Moate adds, “I don’t know if there’s damage to the hood or the windshield at the time, that’s hard to say without seeing the vehicle then.”
Jennifer’s father and police are hoping that someone will come forward with information they may be holding on to or just don’t think it's anything significant. “I just know there’s somebody out there that knows something," says Det. Sgt. Moate. "The person that was driving knows something and if they talked or told anybody or somebody saw their friend or family member behaving oddly around Mother’s Day 1999 or they had a car that matched this description that they never saw again, we just ask that they come forward and let us at least look into it,” And help a grieving father get the answers he so desperately needs. Jennifer's dad says, “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t relive that moment. It’s like a bad movie that just plays over.”
If you know anything about the man who killed Jennifer or the 1980's Datsun 310 he was believed to be driving like the one you see in the photo, call an anonymous tip into:
CRIME STOPPERS: 1-800-222-TIPS
You must call the Crime Stoppers hotline with your tip to be eligible to receive a cash reward for information leading to a fugitive’s arrest.
CLICK HERE for information on how to TEXT A TIP to Crime Stoppers.