Kind-hearted Vickie Edge filled her days by helping everyone around her, whether they were friends, family or total strangers. But behind her big smile, the lonely 59-year-old had been quietly longing to find someone special to spend her life with.
While she adored her dog Buddy, who was never away from her side, business owner Vickie also wanted to enjoy the company of Mr Right.
Her search had led her to online dating websites, where she had been matched with potential suitors. And in 2020, she thought her hunt was over when she found Jerry Odum.
What Vickie’s friends knew for sure was that Odum had struck lucky finding her.
Vickie, who had a grown-up son, owned the Edge Of Paradise spa in Destin, Florida, where she went above and beyond for her clients. Away from work, she was known in the community for raising money for charities, volunteering in women’s shelters and spending time with the elderly.
She was even talking about donating a kidney to a friend.
Loved ones were thrilled that thoughtful Vickie had met and fallen for Odum, 61, who lived in nearby Milton – but they were concerned things were moving too fast. It was August and despite having only been dating for a few months, the couple were already talking about getting married in October.
Vickie really believed Odum was The One and had given him a birthday card with the message, “I’m so thankful God put us together. Looking forward to many more years together.”
Odum had said he was going to buy them a house by a lake. He had even given Vickie a $15,000 cheque to pay for their wedding and encouraged her to get started on making the arrangements.
It was a whirlwind romance but it was everything that Vickie had been longing for. So why wait?
Those who knew Vickie were keen to finally meet the man who had swept her off her feet. But Vickie had suddenly gone quiet and people grew concerned. It was unlike her not to reply to messages or answer calls.
After two days of silence, friends found Vickie wasn’t at home – and neither was Buddy.
Her brother Derrick and his wife started to make enquiries. They knew Vickie had been due to meet up with Odum, so they tried to track him down to see if he knew where she was.
After finding an address online they went to the house, where a neighbour then directed them to Odum’s new home. When they arrived, they saw Vickie’s red car parked there and were confused after noticing the registration plates had been removed.
They began to fear that something was terribly wrong.
No one was answering the door and they waited outside anxiously, calling the police to request a welfare check.
When officers arrived, Odum answered the door and they asked if he knew where Vickie was. “She’s inside,” he replied. “But I have to tell you something first. She’s been dead for two days.”
The police went inside and found Vickie’s body in the living room. She had been beaten around the head.
Outside, Derrick and his wife were told the grim news. They could hear her beloved Buddy barking, faithful to the end.
Odum was taken for questioning and at first claimed he’d found Vickie dead two days earlier, on 6 August.
It was highly unlikely and didn’t explain why he hadn’t called police and had left her in his home.
But his story swiftly changed to a terrible confession.
Odum admitted Vickie had been getting ready to go to work and he’d told her he had a surprise for her. He described putting a blanket over her head and leading her to the living room. There, Odum struck her over the head multiple times with a baseball bat he had bought a few days earlier. He said he had guns but he “didn’t want to go down that route” due to the noise it would cause, alerting the neighbours.
Odum admitted that Vickie had been screaming as he hit her, but he kept on delivering the blows – before using the bat to
choke her to death.
After removing the registration plates from Vickie’s car, he’d driven around for hours before finding a hotel around 30 miles away. He said he spent the night there because he didn’t want to go back home to the crime scene.
“I couldn’t bring myself to stay there with a body,” he said.
And when Odum returned, on the day the police found Vickie, he still didn’t report her death.
It was a brutal, cold-blooded killing of the woman he was due to marry – and investigators wanted to know why he had done it.
When Odum was asked, he said he didn’t have the money to cover the $15,000 cheque he gave her for their wedding. He had no savings and was in debt. There would be no lake house or dream wedding day – and no happy future.
Vickie would have discovered the truth when she tried to cash the cheque. He said he saw killing her as his only way of getting out of the lie, even though Vickie wasn’t interested in money and had just wanted to find true love.
There was a massive outpouring of grief for Vickie as Odum was charged with first-degree murder. Colleagues, friends and family were heartbroken and rushed to give glowing tributes.
Neighbours said that while Vickie was lying dead in his house, they had seen Odum out walking her dog as though nothing was wrong.
He had apparently repeatedly asked for the time and mentioned that Vickie was sleeping. They had no idea that he’d beaten her to death.
Investigators found CCTV footage that captured Odum buying a baseball bat from a store about a week before the killing, showing the crime had been premeditated.
Devastated Derrick spoke to the press about his sister’s quest to find true love and how it had tragically sealed her fate. “Dating sites were her weakness,” he said. “She was always trying to find Mr Right. The creeps she had to filter through are not worth the risk. She ignored the signs and red flags.”
In February this year, Odum pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, bringing legal proceedings to a swift conclusion.
The court heard that Vickie was taken completely by surprise and struck on the head four or five times with the baseball bat. After using it to strangle her, he just left her body in the living room.
Odum was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
But just as shocking as the murder was the reason he had given investigators for doing it – that he didn’t have the cash he had promised Vickie to pay for their big day and felt killing her was his only way out of the situation.
With so many other options, her loved ones were incredulous.
All Vickie had wanted was to find someone to love and build a future with. Tragically, she met a man who promised her the world only to cruelly take her future away.
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