Homeless Florida Man Arrested in Georgia Teen Murder

By: Associated Press, CNN
By: Associated Press, CNN

June 20, 2011 -

Walton County Sheriff Adkinson says 15-year old Courtney Wilkes was reportedly murdered at the hands of a guy she met while in south Walton county, vacationing with her parents and two younger siblings.

Police say 21-year old Steven Cozzie was arrested on an open charge of murder, just hours after police found the girl's body near a nature trail off of cypress grove lane in Seagrove.

Incident reports show she was murdered by blunt force trauma and Adkinson says there was evidence of struggle. He says "this is a situation where you had one individual who obviously has evil in his heart. There is no other way you can put a nice term on it, but this is nothing more than pure evil."

Cozzie's friend, who went to check out the murder scene Friday afternoon, says differently, as he spent time with Cozzie alone as recently as Monday night. He said "I knew him good enough that he probably wouldn't do something like that, but i guess you really don't know anybody." He says Cozzie's parents kicked him out and he was homeless at the time, usually sleeping along beach accesses.

The friend who wants to remain unnamed said was actually feeling bad for him saying "I was going to offer him to crash at my house for a little bit, get off the streets, I didn't get around to it until this happened."

Deputies confirm he was homeless, as they arrested Cozzie at an abandoned lot, where he'd set up camp for the night.

He did not make any statement, he did not attempt to flee anything of that nature.

Officials say everything that happened, happened within one mile of each other. From where she and her family were staying at the Beachcrest condominiums, to where her body was found near Cassine trail.

All these instances happened in very close proximity from where he was staying, where the victim was vacationing with her family to the place where he was apprehended.

Adkinson wants to reassure the community the Seagrove area is safe and that this tragedy could have happened anywhere.

A homeless Florida man is facing murder charges in the death of a Georgia teen.

Sheriff's deputies in Walton county arrested 21-year-old Steven Cozzie Friday. 15-year-old Courtney Wilkes of Toombs County, Georgia was last seen on Thursday.

Her mother said she never returned from a walk with an acquaintance she met while on vacation in Walton county. After a police search- the victim's body was found in Seagrove, Florida.

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