Jennifer Odom Murder Case: Detectives search lake for potential new evidence

7:24 AM, Jun 19, 2013   |    comments
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SAN ANTONIO, Florida -- Early Wednesday morning, detectives and crime scene evidence technicians are expected to gather at a lake front home for the second day in a row. They expect to pull a large item out of Lake Jovita that may be related to the unsolved murder of Jennifer Odom.

On Feb. 19, 1993, 12-year-old Jennifer rode the school bus home. She got off the bus with a book bag and a clarinet case. Those items wouldn't be found for two years, dumped in a rural area in Hernando County. But Jennifer's lifeless body was found six days after she disappeared, dumped in an orange grove.

The home located at 12725 Pompanic Street has a tennis court out front and a boat house out back. The property is owned by the Keifer family, a well-known family of entrepreneurs, but renters are currently living there. Members of law enforcement spent hours behind the home along the dock on Tuesday. Divers searched the nearby waters of Lake Jovita as well.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Odom's mother and stepfather live just a few miles away from the house. 10 News stopped by their home. Jennifer's stepfather, Clark Converse, said he and his wife are on vacation. He says he stopped by their house to check on their dogs.

Converse didn't want to talk on camera, but says they've been on an emotional roller coaster every time there's a tip like this. He says they're not getting their hopes up, because at this point in their life they just can't.

Back at the Pompanic Street location, there was a steady stream of people driving by and several people walked up the crime scene to see what was going on. Dale Kirby, a father born and raised in this community, remembers Jennifer Odom's disappearance like it was yesterday.

He says, "You wonder -- every time I see that flyer you wonder -- what happened. What was going through the little girl's mind? I mean, just getting off the bus, just happy-go-lucky, and your gone."

He watched members of local law enforcement as well as the FBI focus their attention on some large object in the calm waters. He says their presence left him hopeful for some answers.

Kirby says, "You still think about it. They have posters around. They still talk about it. You wonder what could have happened. Nobody knows."

Back at the bus stop, which is located just a few hundred yards away from her home, students remembered an important clue that they'd seen, an older, blue full-size pickup truck creeping up to Jennifer.

Kirby says, "If you had a blue vehicle that matched the description, they stopped you just to check you out."

Hernando County Sheriff's Office won't say if it's that truck or something else they plan to pull up from the bottom of Lake Jovita. They say the tip to search the lake is one of hundreds of leads in the Jennifer Odom case.

Kirby says finding that truck might be the clue to finally close this case so an arrest is made. "I think for the whole community it will put their minds at ease. It's scary if it turns out to be somebody from this community."

The renters at the Keifer home didn't want to talk to 10 News Tuesday night, and several nearby neighbors declined to talk on camera out of respect for the Odom family. One man says he's praying for them to find closure soon.

Back in February of this year, on the 20th anniversary of Jennifer Odom's death, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis assigned a detective specifically to her case in the hopes of solving her murder.

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