Who killed Jennifer Odom? - FOX 13 News

Who killed Jennifer Odom?

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Jennifer Odom was just 12 years old when she stepped off her school bus and vanished.

Six days later, the little girl who loved water skiing and playing the clarinet was found murdered in an orange grove a few miles away in Hernando County.

Her missing book bag and clarinet case still wouldn't be found for two more years.

"I think about her every day. What she's missed, what we've missed, where she would be. Every day is a struggle," said Jennifer's mother, Renee Converse.

Twenty years later, despite hundreds of leads and close to a thousand interviews, her killer has never been caught.

"Was it just a random act? Somebody she didn't know at all or we didn't know at all.  You wonder. Is it really somebody we knew?" Converse said. "And how could it?  I can't even fathom, that it would be somebody she knew, that we knew or still know."

Those are questions that still haunt deputies in Hernando County, who are now taking a fresh, methodical new look at the case, assigning a senior detective to it full time.

"To know that the case has not yet been solved is heart wrenching for those of us who are in law enforcement," Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis said.

DNA and forensic testing has changed a lot in 20 years, but the Sheriff says people have changed, too.

"Their conscience may change. They may have a change of heart in regard to something they know and didn't tell us 20 years ago," Neinhuis said. "But the relationships change, too. There may have been husbands and wives or even family members who've had a falling out since then, and they may be much more willing to talk to us."

And that's what Jennifer's mother hopes will happen -- that someone will do the right thing and finally bring Jennifer's killer to justice.

"Just don't forget her. She was a wonderful little girl, and she would've made a positive difference in this world," Converse said.

Jennifer's younger sister was just 9 years old when she vanished. She's now a grown woman, who's married with her own children. Their mother says Jennifer would be so happy for her and so proud.

Jennifer, herself, would be 32 years old.

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