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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  • by Anita Location: Alabama on May 4, 2012 at 06:31 PM
    I've known Steven his entire life, he is not this evil monster. He is a disabled boy with a severe learning disability, who came from a awful family in Alabama. Raised by his Dad and Step-Mom (from hell) and never got anything good in his life. They were extremly poor, with 4 other kids. He was treated awful by them. When he turned 18 he was thrown out. He went to his estranged mother, who happen to live in Florida. After a few years she threw him out. He should never of been thrown out anywhere he should of been drawing a SSI check and living in a group home or something. He is a sweet boy, not violent at all. I would let my own children stay with him even today. I don't believe he committed this crime. I will never believe it. It's not possible. My heart breaks for the family of Courtney and also for Steven. With the right resources he could of became anything, but no one wanted him. Especially not his own DAd!!
  • by Ya Ya Location: Tallahassee on Jun 21, 2011 at 05:31 AM
    This is Gary Michael Hilton revisited, We need to enforce local laws against panhandling, loitering, and trespassing. Crimes are numerous in the vicinity of the panhandlers because of drug use, alcohol abuse, and related crimes. Thank-you to the DOT for posting no trespassing signs on I-10 and N Monroe. Panhandling and crime is down in this area. We can help by not giving money to panhandlers.
  • by Cornelius Location: Gretna on Jun 20, 2011 at 03:26 PM
    This is why them police should put more hobos in jail.
  • by Just Asking... on Jun 20, 2011 at 03:21 PM
    First I will say that nothing gives a person the right to kill a child the way he is alleged to have done. But I have to ask: What was a 15yo girl doing hanging out ALONE with some 21yo MAN?! He was a stranger and way too old to be hanging out with that child. What were the parents thinking...or did they think at all? It is partially their fault that she is dead. They should have protected her from that predator.
    • reply
      by Samantha on Jun 23, 2011 at 03:48 AM in reply to Just Asking...
      He told them he was 16!!!! and that he worked as a beach attendant (which he no longer did) and he had been around all week. HE LIED to them, also this family is a very good family with wonderful parents that let their kids go to the beach! 1 in the afternoon with a beach full of people and Courtney went for a walk- This MAN as you say did not seem to pose a threat as he was (16 and worked on the beach) also, Courtney would have been able to drive herself to the beach in 3 weeks! if my almost 16 year old met someone who I knew to be 16 I would not think it wrong to walk a crowded beach in mid day!!!! I do now of course because of this sicko. But it is NOT partially the parents fault...BLAME cozzie NOT ANYONE ELSE!
      • reply
        by Just Asking... on Jun 23, 2011 at 01:06 PM in reply to Samantha
        Oh no, you're saying the predator LIED? Really? And that the parents didn't think that this MAN posed a threat? What a surprise! (<--sarcasm.) This is exactly the MO of predators. Wake Up People and Protect Your Children! Predators are everywhere...even at the beach! They insinuate themselves into a situation just like this, they gain the trust of the victim (and sometimes those closest to the victim), then they strike. Perhaps if the parents had been even the slightest bit cautious around this STRANGER, then this whole tragedy could have been avoided. They need to WAKE UP before either or both of their other two remaining children are victimized also. Lastly, who cares if she was three weeks away from driving?! At the time of the incident she was still a 15yo child. And now because of her parent's carelessness she will never be able to drive at all.
        • reply
          by Samantha on Jun 23, 2011 at 06:22 PM in reply to Just Asking...
          well, being from Lyons, Ga and knowing this family...and her friends I do not know what to say our community is in such shock and terribly sad! Thanks for you GREAT WISDOM on strangers and keeping kids in fear and locked up until they are 30 (<---sarcasm) oh and by the way- shifting the blame to innocent people and not some horrible human being. Way to go Mr. or Mrs. Perfect! And yes I am sure they are woke up now!!!!!! Thanks for your concern and compassion I will be sure and tell our town and friends and family of Court...(<---a LOT of sarcasm)
    • reply
      by DM on Jun 23, 2011 at 04:20 AM in reply to Just Asking...
      What a stupid thing to say?? Don't you think they feel bad enought? I mean the guy had talked himself up and had been around them the entire time, like three days! I feel sorry for you saying such a thing about her parents!
  • by jr Location: ga on Jun 20, 2011 at 12:02 PM
    what asad world we live in.
  • by Mercury on Jun 20, 2011 at 11:58 AM
    I wasn't aware that proximity to a murder is enough for an arrest.
  • by L on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:42 AM
  • by Steve Location: Marietta, Georgia on Jun 20, 2011 at 09:59 AM
    [Florida native, resident] Kill it now! Kill that son-of-a-dog, and kill it now!
  • by Localboy Location: Tally on Jun 20, 2011 at 08:35 AM
    In case anyone is wondering, Steven Cozzie is a White dude.
    • reply
      by sherry on Jun 20, 2011 at 12:01 PM in reply to Localboy
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Jun 20, 2011 at 08:22 PM in reply to sherry
        This comment has been deleted.
        • reply
          by TIR on Jun 21, 2011 at 03:16 PM in reply to
          Unsure why you addressed your statement to me, but I will say that YES, race has everything to do with it, at least that is what the white racist on this site believe, I simply do what they do...sheesh.
    • reply
      by Just Asking... on Jun 20, 2011 at 03:22 PM in reply to Localboy
      Does that matter? Is there some particular reason why you feel the need to point that out?
    • reply
      by Steve Marietta, Ga. on Jun 20, 2011 at 03:49 PM in reply to Localboy
      No &#i Sherlock!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 23, 2011 at 01:22 PM in reply to Localboy
      Of course he is. Otherwise the parents might have been suspicious of him and not let their kid wander off with him.
  • by Carol Jeffcoat Location: Vidalia, GA on Jun 20, 2011 at 07:34 AM
    Mrs. Wilkes,Cordy and Family.. Words can't say enough or can I do anything to experience the pain all you are going through. Only God can intervene under circumstances like this. Please know you are in my prayers and thoughts. May God Bless you! Carol,Brad & Zach
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