Charles Harvey Odom (Case Facts)

The following description is excerpted from an appeal from the Circuit Court of Jasper County (Ray Watson was the judge) to the Supreme Court of Missouri (en banc), April Session, 1963.

On Sunday, July 23, 1961, shortly after four o’clock in the afternoon, Lisa Schuh, a female child thirteen years of age, a resident of Wichita, Kansas, who was visiting her grandmother in Joplin, took her little puppy out for a walk around the block where her grandmother lived. At that time Vernon Stephens was inside a garage painting about a window which faced on an alley in the rear of 731 Potter Street. Another workman was on the roof of the garage. Stephens saw the defendant, Charles Harvey Odom age 29, a residentĀ  of Wellington, Kansas, driving a two-tone white over blue, 1956 Chevrolet automobile, Kansas License No. S/U1-0204, stop his car in the alley opposite the window where Stephens was working. Stephens was able to get a clear view of defendant’s head and face and first observed him talking to Lisa Schuh, who had stopped by the car. Stephens could hear little of the conversation, but he saw defendant get out of the car, hold a gun on the child, force herĀ  into the car, grab the little dog and throw him in and drive away in haste, holding a gun on the child. Stephens ran out of the garage in time to take the license number of the car, get its make and description and to have these facts reported to the police. The workman on the roof of the garage also saw the child walking through the alley with defendant driving his car by her side. He also observed the child huddled on the floor board of defendant’s automobile as it went down Eighth Street.

Shortly after the news was broadcast defendant’s auto was seen a short distance north and west of the city limits of Joplin, where two girls had seen the car pass and were able to see the driver. Defendant’s automobile had also been observed parked in a narrow roadway in this northwest area obstructing the passage of other vehicles. The driver of another automobile has caused defendant to back his car up for some distance to permit this other car to pass defendant’s car. Subsequently, defendant’s car operated by defendant was observed heading back into Joplin at a high speed. It was followed into the city by a police officer in an unmarked car. This officer caused defendant’s car to be stopped and defendant to be arrested at an intersection with Seventh Street, almost within the same area and approximately within an hour from the time the child was picked up.

The arresting officer observed the handle of a pistol sticking out from under the front seat of defendant’s car and on the floor of the car, in back of the driver’s seat, the officer found the child’s bloody clothing and the shoes the child was wearing when she left her grandmother’s home. The officer also found a rock with blood and hair on it and some of defendant’s own clothing. When asked where the child was, defendant denied any knowledge of her. Search was then instituted in the area where defendant’s car had been seen northwest of the city. In a secluded and desolate area in heavy brush the little dog was first located and then the unconscious and almost naked child was discovered. She was taken to a hospital where she remained unconscious for approximately six weeks. Medical examination revealed that she had had sexual intercourse and her private parts severely injured and, in addition, she had been struck on the head and her skull fractured in several places and brain tissues exposed. Witnesses identified defendant as the driver of the car when it was parked northwest of the city and also as it was leaving the city and returning to it.

Statements signed by the defendant on July 26, 1961, were admitted in evidence. They showed that defendant admitted putting a pistol in the window of the car with the barrel pointing out the window towardsthe little girl; that the girl got into the car; that after a lapse of time, they arrived at a secluded area where he proceeded to have sexual intercourse with the child; that he had probably told her to remove her clothes; that, after he had completed having intercourse with her, he was very frightened to realize what he had done; that, when he had left Springfield that afternoon he had on blown slacks, brown slippers, brown socks, a white T-shirt and a gold sweater, but when he was arrested he had on jeans, brown slippers, brown socks, a white T-shirt and a gold sweater; that he had used the rock found in his car to beat the child on the head; that he must have put the girl’s clothes in the car; that he intended to get rid of the clothes later; that, when a certain car passed him on the road and he saw a woman in the car, he tried to think of some way to get rid of the child; that he remembered picking up a rock and hitting her on the head and seeing her sort of crumple on the ground; and that, thereafter, he hurriedly picked up her clothes, the rock and other articles, put them in the car an left the scene. Defendant did not testify at the trial.