NOTE: Click the video screen for part 2 of the Jenny Pratt Episode.
Jenny Pratt was 16-years-old and a tenth-grader at her local high-school. Friend’s and family described her as outgoing, popular and pretty, she even had dreams of becoming a model when she grew up.
Photo of Jennifer Pratt
Jenny met a man named Curtis Croft who said he was seventeen, but after falling for him it soon became apparent that Curtis was not 17 but 24. Many said Curtis could have easily passed for a 17-year-old.
“He looked 17. Further on down the road I found out he had been in jail for drugs and that he was 24 years-old. Just bad news for a 16 year-old kid.” said Diane Strom, Jenny’s mother.
Jenny was clearly smitten by her new boyfriend, who was described as a ”bad boy”, and against her parent’s wishes she stayed with him.
On April 25, 1987, after hanging out for several hours, Curtis went to bring Jenny home before her 12PM curfew. The two set off on a motorcycle borrowed by a friend of Curtis, Jenny was sitting in the back, holding onto him, and was wearing a helmet when the two were stopped at a red-light. Suddenly out of nowhere a light-colored pick-up truck carrying several young men drove by and shot a 2 by 4, hitting Jenny in the back of her head. She immediately went unconscious and the unidentified culprits sped off.
She had to be air-lifted to the hospital and ended up in a coma with significant brain damage which left her with severe physical and mental functioning problems. The blow from the board that struck her was great enough to actually crush the skull and that caused immediate shut down of her brain.
Amazingly, three months after the attack, Jenny Pratt came out of her coma. At first she seemed incapable of thought or action but after 12 weeks she started physical therapy. Seven months later, Jenny began to speak. A year later, she could walk. However, she will have mental and physical disabilities for the rest of her life due to the unprovoked attack.
Jenny Pratt nor her family and friends can understand why anyone would be motivated to commit such a heinous attack.
“Why was somebody mad at me? What did I do to them to hurt them?”
Authorities have an idea.
Curtis Croft was interviewed more than once, and his story changed more than once. He told them he didn’t get the chance to identify the shooters, as they were going 55-miles-per-hour, but authorities immediately suspected Curtis of lying about what he knows. A mock-test was done, also known as a ”dummy experiment”. In the 55 mile-an-hour reconstruction, the board swung by the assailant fell about fifty feet from the scene of the crime. But after the accident, police found the board only a few feet from the spot where Jenny was attacked. The second reconstruction played out at only 10 miles an hour. The mannequins sustained injuries very similar to the ones Curtis and Jenny actually received, and this time, the board fell right next to the motorcycle. Authorities said that if the truck was moving 55-miles per hour, that Jenny and Curtis would have been instantly, proving Curtis lied.
Curtis was a drug-dealer who had a history. In 1985 he was caught for selling cocaine and some suspect him of getting into an argument with drug-dealers who then attempted to have him killed, but missed and hit Jenny.
Jenny’s parents hired private investigator Louie Crisafi, who interviewed students at Jenny’s high school, and based on the evidence and interviews he concluded that Curtis was the target of the incident, not Jenny.
Two years before the attack, in 1985, Curtis had been convicted of dealing cocaine. By cooperating with the police, he had served less than half of his sentence.
Sgt. Jim Byler:
“He developed a reputation as a snitch when he got himself in trouble. And young people, particularly young people involved in drugs, tend to look down on somebody who develops that reputation.”
“We do believe that Curtis did, in fact, see those people. Curtis continuously told us that he has been threatened, that he has basically informed on people before and was very, very frightened that he would be killed. And he was already being threatened not to talk in this case. And we have reason to believe that what he’s saying to that effect is true.”
Jenny’s case was aired on Unsolved Mysteries on December 4, 1988, which generated alot of calls and tip, which all lead to dead-ends. During the episode, Diane Strom had alluded that she’d almost rather Jenny had died, rather than having to suffer mentally and physically for years to come.
Statement by Louie Crisafi: “We need somebody in the community with half the courage of Jennifer Pratt. Somebody who just knows the one missing link, the one thing that’ll tie this whole case together, because I really think that all we’re missing is one small link. And someone out there has it.”
Jenny Pratt is still living in Carlsbad, CA and she will always be mentally impaired. As of 2012, almost twenty-five years after the attack, she still has not received Justice and Curtis Croft, who is still living in California as well, and who is still keeping quiet til this day.