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Lead in abduction is dead end

Another dead end.

As has happened often in the past decade, a man recently being investigated for possible involvement in the 1993 abduction and slaying of Jennifer Odom now seems an unlikely suspect.

Thomas Ellis Brown, 53, who faces charges of kidnapping and lewd and lascivious behavior in Osceola County, at first seemed promising.

The drifter has been arrested more than 70 times in eight states during the past 35 years. When Osceola detectives recently arrested him for allegedly trying to lure a 16-year-old girl into his car near Kissimmee, Brown was naked.

Hernando County detectives spent the past several weeks trying to determine whether Brown was in the North Suncoast area on Feb. 19, 1993, the day 12-year-old Jennifer disappeared from St. Joseph in Pasco County after getting off a school bus.

What they found was disappointment.

"They were able to put him in a location, I think up in Maine, the day before the Odom abduction," said Hernando County Sheriff's Office Capt. Alan Arick. "The chance of him being able to get down here and commit the crime is very remote."

Investigators have followed up some 6,000 tips in the Odom case without success.

Last summer, a man who shot himself in Sarasota during a standoff with police appeared interesting. It was found the man was in prison in February 1993.

"A lot of times what sounds like a promising lead dries up," Arick said. "We are not giving up hope."

_ Will Van Sant covers Hernando County government and can be reached at 754-6127. Send e-mail to