Arrest affidavit alleges Van Zandt County girl kidnapped to Kentucky for ransom

Arrest affidavit alleges Van Zandt County girl kidnapped to Kentucky for ransom
Austen Walker new booking photo early Friday morning (Source: Oldham County Detention Center)

VAN ZANDT COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - A Tatum man conspired with three others to kidnap a Van Zandt County girl in order to use her to collect a ransom, according to an arrest affidavit.

KLTV has obtained probable cause affidavits in the arrest of Courtney Michelle Odum, 21, of Tyler, and Kenneth Dewayne Odum, 46, and Ashley Erin Mills, 39, both of Clarkson, Kentucky. They are accused of separate parts in the May kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl with a disability.

Austen Lyn Walker, 21, of Tatum, was arrested in Kentucky in May and faces a federal charge. Courtney Odum was arrested in Missouri the same day. Kentucky authorities arrested Kenneth Odum and Mills earlier this month.

Courtney Odum (Source: Van Zandt County Jail)
Courtney Odum (Source: Van Zandt County Jail) (Source: Van Zandt County Jail)

According to arrest affidavits, Walker and Courtney Odum lured the girl from her home after the girl indicated she had access to the family safe.

According to an affidavit, the girl’s mother contacted the sheriff’s office on May 12 and said her intellectually disabled daughter was missing. The mother said she last saw her daughter on May 11 and her daughter had packed clothing and taken $2,000 from the mother’s safe.

The investigating deputy talked to a friend of the missing girl, who said the girl told her Walker was going to come and pick her up so they could go to Louisiana and California.

Kenneth Odum and Ashley Mills (Source: Hardin County Jail, Kentucky)
Kenneth Odum and Ashley Mills (Source: Hardin County Jail, Kentucky) (Source: Kenneth Odum and Ashley Mills Hardin County Jail, Kentucky)

According to an affidavit, the kidnapped girl’s last known sighting was around 11 a.m. on May 12 in Flint. The FBI interviewed Courtney Odum’s brother, who said that his sister came to his house and she had Walker and her infant son. The brother said he saw the kidnapped girl in the back seat of the vehicle. He said Courtney Odum told him she was driving to Kentucky to visit their father.

An affidavit states Walker destroyed his own and the child’s cellphone to prevent the child from calling her parents after they left.

An affidavit states Courtney Odum’s vehicle was detected by a license plate reader at the Texas/Louisiana border at 2 p.m. on May 12. It was then detected at the Louisiana/Mississippi border at 4:30 p.m.

An affidavit states that during the night of May 12, Tennessee authorities stopped Courtney Odum’s Toyota Camry and issued a warning. The Amber Alert was issued after the stop, according to the affidavit. The affidavit states Courtney Odum began experiencing significant anxiety following the stop and communicated as much to Kenneth Odum.

An affidavit states that on May 13, Walker, Courtney Odum, the girl and Odum’s infant child, arrived at Kenneth Odum’s Kentucky home and they stayed there for the night.

The affidavit states that Courtney Odum contacted a Facebook friend of hers on May 14. The friend said Odum told him she was in Kentucky with a friend and that friend had done “something bad” and she needed to get back to Texas.

FBI interviewed Courtney Odum’s grandmother on May 13, who said she talked to her granddaughter three times. She said her granddaughter indicated she was on her way back to Texas but she wanted her grandmother to meet them to pick up her infant son.

The affidavit states the grandmother then went to Sikeston, Missouri, to pick up the baby. The grandmother’s sister was with her and she told FBI that she asked Odum if Walker and the kidnapped child were still with her.

“Courtney replied with no, he’s gone, he left,” according to the affidavit.

An affidavit states Kenneth and Courtney Odum traveled to Missouri to meet her grandmother, where they were met by FBI agents and detained. The affidavit states both Odums gave false statements in the beginning, then conflicting statements. An affidavit states Courtney Odum admitted Walker, Mims and the girl are at Kenneth Odum’s Kentucky home. When Kenneth Odum is confronted with the facts, he said “I f---- up” and admits Courtney Odum, Walker and the girl slept at his home the previous night. He also admitted he should have contacted law enforcement about the kidnapping.

After Courtney Odum admitted to Walker’s location, the FBI arrived at the Kentucky home and confirmed the girl was there. While waiting for enough FBI agents to arrive to execute the girl’s rescue, the affidavit states Walker and the girl ran away. But the girl was rescued and Walker was taken into custody.

The FBI later interviewed Mills, who said she knew Courtney Odum and Walker were “in trouble and wanted by the police.”

Courtney Odum has been extradited to Van Zandt County Jail, where she is being held on a kidnapping charge and $500,000 bond. Walker had been booked in the Oldham County, Kentucky, Jail until Tuesday. Records show he is now in federal custody and also faces Van Zandt County charges. Kenneth Odum and Mills remain in the Hardin County, Kentucky, Jail and face Van Zandt County charges of engaging in organized criminal activity.

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