Suspect arrested for killing GA teen - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Suspect arrested for killing GA teen

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by Nadeen Yanes, WMBB

South Walton Co., FL - A homeless Florida man is facing murder charges in the death of a Georgia teen.

15-year-old Courtney Wilkes, of Lyons, GA, was reported missing by her mother Thursday. One day later, investigators found the teen's body less than a mile away from her family's vacation home.

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 the sheriff says there was evidence of struggle.

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

Officials say everything 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.

Walton County's Sheriff wants to reassure the community the Seagrove area is safe and that this tragedy could have happened anywhere.