Relief and disbelief have replaced almost three decades of speculation, frustration and worry.
A sickly, overweight, 76-year-old man in a wheelchair is accused of the double murder of Fort Atkinson-area high school sweethearts a generation ago.
Edward Wayne Edwards was charged Friday in the August 1980 slayings of Timothy Hack and Kelly Drew, both 19, who were last seen alive leaving the Concord House, a rural dance hall eight miles east of Johnson Creek. The couple's bodies were found three months later, but questions surrounding the case have troubled family, law enforcement and residents of this southern Wisconsin county for 29 years. On Friday, some of the questions were answered.
"It's mixed emotions," said Mike Drew, 43, Kelly Drew's younger brother. "It's good for the families I think to get to this level and to actually possibly have someone that did this. It's just so many years of waiting and wondering."
Edwards was arrested Thursday at his home in the Cedar Heights Mobile Home Park in Louisville, Ky., without incident. It was unclear Friday if he would fight extradition to Wisconsin where he faces two first-degree murder charges.
Lt. Barry Wilkerson, commander of Louisville's homicide unit, which aided investigators from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and the Wisconsin Department of Justice, said Friday that police used Edwards' own specially equipped van to transport the 5-foot, 8-inch, 280-pound man to jail.
Edwards' wife, Kay, answered the phone Friday afternoon at their home. "I'm not answering any questions," she said.
Fred Payne, Edward's next door neighbor, said Edwards and his wife moved to Louisville from Florida. He said Edwards told him he had worked in construction and truck driving before retiring and had lived in Arizona, Ohio, California and other places before coming to Louisville. "They pretty much stayed to themselves. (The arrest) was a surprise to me," Payne said. "They always treated me fine."
Authorities believe Edwards initially lived with his family in a campground adjacent to the Concord House in the summer of 1980 and later moved to a home about three miles from the dance hall. On Aug. 9, 1980, Hack and Drew attended a wedding reception at the Concord House but never arrived in Fort Atkinson where they were scheduled to meet friends. They were reported missing the next day after Hack's car was found parked at the Concord House. Their decomposed bodies were found nearly three months later at the edge of a woods and cornfield along Hustisford Road south of Highway 16 between Watertown and Ixonia.
At the time, authorities said decomposition prevented autopsies from determining the causes of death. Police now believe Drew was probably strangled and sexually assaulted while Hack was stabbed to death, according to a criminal complaint.
Police refused to reveal what led them to Edwards but said technology allowed for more evidence to be pursued starting in 2007. On July 8 of this year, DNA from semen on Drew's pants, found alongside a roadway five days after the couple was reported missing, was connected to DNA from Edwards that police obtained in June of this year with a search warrant.
Drew's yellow pants were found cut in a jagged pattern from the ankle through the groin area, and her bra was cut in the center and through each shoulder strap, the complaint said.
Detective Sgt. Larry Lee, a Jefferson native hired by the Sheriff's Department in 1985 who first started working on the case in the early 1990s, said the arrest is a relief. He was one of 14 detectives who at one time or another worked on the case.
"Just like a lot of major investigations, you wait for a break, and I can't elaborate on that, but we did and it gave us a good lead," said Lee, who fought back tears Friday. "Any detective that works on a case of this magnitude gives part of themselves. It becomes a part of you. It's obviously an emotional thing for me, but hopefully we can bring some closure to the family and that's what this is about."
Timothy Hack's father, Dave Hack, said Friday it was "miraculous" police were able to solve the murder after almost 30 years. He has been in regular contact with investigators, and on Thursday Lee called him, asking to come to Hack's home east of Fort Atkinson to talk. Hack, a retired farmer, said he was surprised at the news Lee delivered. "I couldn't believe it," Hack said. "I just never expected it."
Hack said the news came as a relief because for years family members and friends had wondered if the alleged killer was someone they knew.
Drew's mother, Norma Walker, said she was shocked when Jefferson County Sheriff Paul Milbrath told her the news Thursday night. Walker, now 70, said the arrest has only ripped open old wounds, she doesn't want to hear about details, and she's dreading a trial.
"You hope this day would come, but now that it's here, it's really hard. Everything starts all over again. All the memories come back," she said. "He robbed me of my daughter, robbed me of Christmases, birthdays, weddings, everything families do together."
Interviews Friday paint the suspect as a retired man who suffers from a variety of illnesses including congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes. He has lived with his wife, Kay, in Louisville since about 2000 and has grown children.
In September 1980, shortly after being contacted by law enforcement in connection with the murders, Edwards left the state with his family, failing to leave any contact information or forwarding address.
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Witnesses recalled Edwards had a bloody nose during the weekend Hack and Drew disappeared. At the time, Edwards told others he injured his nose while deer hunting.
During a June 9 interview, Edwards told investigators that he had never been deer hunting and that the only time in which he had gone hunting was for elk in Colorado.
Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ Friday declined to speculate on a motive.
Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Corrections online records showed Friday he was in custody and did not yet have an attorney. Edwards was scheduled to be arraigned this morning on a fugitive warrant. If a judge decides the warrant is valid, Edwards will move to an extradition hearing, said prosecutors in Jefferson County, Ky.
The news of an arrest in the double murder was welcomed by those who have lived for years not knowing what happened.
"I'm glad for the family because it's sort of some closure," said Jerry Dobson, 66, who has lived in Jefferson since 1966. "All these years wondering, it's got to be hard."
John Bender, 45, said his mother opened the Concord House in 1973. Bender, who was 16 in 1980, worked at the campground and remembers that Edwards usually wore bib overalls and did odd jobs for the campground in exchange for camping fees. "How did this guy do this?" Bender said. "I hope they get that question answered. How did he overtake two young people?"
John Anhalt wonders the same. Kelly Drew worked for him at the Dairy Queen in Fort Atkinson and said the killer must have had a gun.
"Kelly was a great employee," said Anhalt, who also runs the Burger Corner in Jefferson. "She was small in her demeanor, but she was feisty as hell."
TRAIL OF A COLD CASE
August 9, 1980
Drew and Hack last seen at around 11 p.m. leaving a wedding reception at the Concord House August 10, 1980Hack's car found abandoned at the Concord House parking lot.
August 15, 1980
Drew's slashed clothes found along a road about three miles from the Concord House August 21, 1980FBI joins the search for the missing couple October 19 and 20, 1980Bodies of Hack and Drew found at edge of woods near Ixonia August, 1983Milwaukee private detective says Hack/Drew murder tied to other mysterious Jefferson County killings and was tied to a satanic cult.
Technology allows investigators to pursue more evidence June 2009 Wisconsin investigators go to Louisville to obtain DNA evidence from Edward Wayne Edwards.
July 8, 2009
Wisconsin State Crime Lab DNA analysis connects Edwards to the semen found on Drew's body.
July 30, 2009
Edward W. Edwards arrested for the murders of Hack and Drew.