Unsolved Mysteries' Jennifer Odom Case: Man Charged With Kidnapping and Murder 30 Years Later

A 61-year-old man has been arrested for the murder of Jennifer Odom, a 12-year-old girl whose disappearance and death was explored on a 1994 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

By Gabrielle Chung Jul 29, 2023 4:25 PMTags
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Warning: This story discusses sexual assault.

An arrest has been made in Jennifer Odom's long-unsolved murder case.

Jeffrey Norman Crum, 61, was charged with murder, kidnapping and sexual battery in connection to the 12-year-old's death three decades after her body was found in a field in Hernando County, Fla., according to the County Sheriff Al Nienhuis.

Odom vanished on Feb. 12, 1993 after getting off her school bus just 200 yards from her home in Pasco County, Fla. She was found dead with signs trauma in a neighboring county six days later.

In a July 27 press conference, the sheriff said investigators spent years looking for the suspect—who they believed drove a blue pickup truck based on tips from students on the school bus the day of Odom's disappearance—but many of their leads went cold. They had a breakthrough in the case when investigators noticed how Odom's attack was "almost identical" to a separate attack on another young girl made 13 months prior to her death, according to Nienhuis.

Unsolved Mysteries Burning Questions Answered

In both cases, Nienhuis said, the teens were brutally attacked and sexually assaulted. However, the victim in earlier case—in which Crum was identified as a suspect through DNA analysis—survived after being "left for dead," per the sheriff.

"The MO's in both cases were almost identical with the exception of Jennifer, as we know, was abducted and found six days later," Nienhuis explained. "So he quickly, almost instantaneously, became our number one suspect in the Jennifer Odom case."

Hernando County Sheriff's Office

Nienhuis did not disclose any further details into what led authorities arrest Crum in Odom's killing, though Bill Gladson, the state attorney for Florida's 5th Judicial Circuit, said during the press conference that officials "have confidence that we have the right person and that we have the right aggravators, in this particular case, to treat it as a death penalty case."

"This is every parent's worst nightmare," he added. "This is a thing that keeps parents up at night, worrying about their children."

Odom's murder was explored in a 1994 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

Crum has been in prison since 2019 for an unrelated sexual battery case, according to prison records reviewed by E! News.

Hernando County Sheriff's Office via AP

E! News has not been able to identify if Crum has legal representation who can speak on his behalf.

For free, confidential help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit rainn.org.