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Search for killer moves to the sky

Published Oct. 6, 2005

The billboard shows the young girl dressed in a red sweater holding her teal napsack and Hooters jacket. A small, black clarinet case sits at her feet.

"My murderer has these clothes, clarinet and bookbag," the message reads.

On the one-year anniversary of finding 12-year-old Jennifer Odom's body in south-central Hernando County six days after she vanished from her St. Joseph bus stop, investigators are trying a new approach to find her killer.

The phone calls and leads have fallen off to a trickle, and detectives are growing frustrated, authorities say. They hope the billboards along Pasco and Hernando county roads will jog memories and trigger new leads.

"We live in a society that is very quick to forget," said Hernando Sheriff Tom Mylander. "It's human nature for people to say, "Yeah, I remember that, but it was way back there.' We're saying, "Let's regenerate it and jog minds. It doesn't matter how minor the information is. It may be what we need to put it all together.'


Ten billboards, seven in Pasco and three in Hernando, will go up by the end of next week. The first billboard went up Friday on State Road 52, just east of U.S. 19. An estimated 84,000 people will see the seven Pasco billboards every day, said Shawn Ulrich, director of public affairs for Patrick Outdoor Advertising, a Largo company donating the billboard space. Figures were not available for Hernando sign locations.

Leads in Odom's murder are still trickling in but have begun to dry up, said Mylander, whose office is leading the investigation. Recent media attention focused on the one-year anniversary of Odom's kidnapping and murder sparked six phone calls last week, he said, but none of those tips has brought detectives close to an arrest.

Someone who remembers anything from finding a clarinet to overhearing something peculiar could be the link investigators need, said Pasco Sheriff Lee Cannon.

"Somebody has to have some information some place," Mylander added. "Certainly, we want to encourage people to come out with it. Even if they think it's a rumor or unimportant, we want to hear about it."

Investigators are rehashing thousands of old leads to get a fresh perspective, he said, but new information would help.

"As much as everybody says you don't get personally involved, you do," Mylander said.

"Our investigators have put in so much of their time, they want to see a conclusion. You get real close to the victims."

"This is one of those cases you take home with you from the office," added Richard Pyles, a special agent supervisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

"You don't forget about it."


Anyone with information in Jennifer Odom's abduction or murder can call the Pasco Sheriff's Office at (800) 854-2862.