Authorities have charged a 61-year-old man with murder, three decades after he allegedly abducted and killed a 12-year-old girl following her departure from a Florida school bus, as disclosed by officials on Thursday.
The 12-Year-Old Girl Murder Case
In connection with the death of Jennifer Odom, Jeffrey Norman Crum is accused of murder, kidnapping, and sexual battery, according to the Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis, who made the announcement during a press conference on Thursday.
Jennifer Odom vanished in Pasco County on February 19, 1993, sparking a 60-square-mile-long search by volunteers and government officials. A man and a woman found her dead in an abandoned orange grove six days later, on February 25. Her clarinet case and backpack, however, were not discovered alongside her body. The missing items were discovered by a couple looking for scrap metal two years later.
Following Jennifer Odom’s death, a massive manhunt for the suspect was initiated, initially centering on the driver of a blue pickup truck. Some of her fellow students claimed to have witnessed the truck at the scene after Jennifer disembarked from the bus. Nienhuis stated that the investigation remained ongoing, with hundreds of leads pursued throughout the years, and it was never officially closed. As technological advancements occurred, investigators continuously subjected the evidence to testing and retesting.
Man Charged with Murder, Continuation of the Cold Case in Florida
Detectives were able to identify Crum as a suspect in Odom’s death using DNA evidence from an unrelated case in Pasco County. Although there were no matches or leads in the national DNA database, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement utilized a method of comparing DNA to find close matches within the system. This approach led them to identify one of Crum’s family members, ultimately leading them to Crum himself.
After Crum’s identification as a suspect in Odom’s case, he swiftly became the primary suspect in her death. Numerous individuals were interviewed following his identification, and the police built a case against him. Authorities disclosed that Crum possessed a blue truck and had knowledge of the area where Odom was abducted and killed.
State Attorney Bill Gladson confirmed that prosecutors would consider the death penalty in this case, acknowledging the profound impact on parents as it embodies their worst fears. Sheriff Nienhuis expressed the possibility of additional victims and urged anyone with relevant information to come forward.