By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Flores tells the Weekly that when she met DeWalt, he “started to tell me a tale” that intrigued her. She was even more intrigued when, shortly after that meeting, DeWalt again played detective, tracking down Edwards’ old arresting officer, who recalled that while Edwards was awaiting transfer to San Quentin, he befriended a Los Angeles County jail guard.
DeWalt found the retired guard, who told him that Edwards had admitted inside the jailhouse to killing 18 kids — 12 more than he had previously confessed to murdering. But the guard told DeWalt that Edwards refused to repeat his jailhouse confession to the police at the time because the cops had said “bad things about me in court.”
DeWalt then identified a former prison mate of Edwards’. The inmate, who was 17 and in Los Angeles County Jail on a rape charge back then, told DeWalt that Edwards had confessed to killing not 12 but about 20 children.
The former inmate also told DeWalt a bizarre related story: At the time, he occupied a cell with Edwards on one side and Charles Manson on the other.
DeWalt says Manson formed a freakish relationship with the then-teenage inmate, an African-American: “Manson would facilitate between trying to be his friend [and] calling him a ‘nigger,’ and telling him that if he had a chance to get a hold of him on the outside, he would kill him.”
More bizarrely, DeWalt continues, Edwards would intercede, trying to “get Charlie to lay off. ... It was a challenge dealing with Edwards because one moment he would tell [his teenage friend] about the boys he killed who were his age, and the next moment he would be attempting to stop Charlie from threatening him.”
Unfortunately, cold-case detective Flores could no longer find the “murder book” of police clues and records involving Roger Madison. But she finally found a transcript of Edwards’ confession to killing Donald Todd. In that transcript, Edwards said he stabbed Madison in an orange grove in Sylmar before burying him along the Thousand Oaks Freeway, still under construction at the time.
“The night of Roger [Madison’s] abduction, it was raining,” says Gleason. “Edwards took him up to Ventura County and got his pickup truck stuck.” Gleason believes that Edwards used a piece of heavy Caltrans equipment to pull his truck out of the muck, and then to bury Madison.
With that theory in mind, Detective Flores sought help from Caltrans, where an employee directed her to a retired bridge engineer who worked with Edwards in 1968 along the Thousand Oaks Freeway, now known as the 23 freeway. Recalls Flores, “I said, ‘This is ludicrous, but do you know where you were on December 16, 1969?’”
Amazingly, the Caltrans retiree told her, “I know exactly where I was.” He’d kept a detailed log of each work day, showing the exact locations where he worked — a trail that showed cops exactly where Mack Edwards, his co-worker that day, had also been.
Three months later, Detective Flores sent four corpse-sniffing dogs to the site where Edwards was that day. Ironically, last May, one of the dogs, a black Labrador named Buster, worked on the unsuccessful Manson body dig at Barker Ranch in Death Valley.
The dogs independently “alerted” at the same spot, and a month ago, Flores contacted Madison’s family for family DNA samples in case human remains are found. “It is a moral obligation for me to look for these kids,” she says. “After a while, these kids become your kids.”
Pasadena author DeWalt is clearly hoping that this week will bring a partial end to a dark tale he unraveled while writing the somber story of one family’s grief. He’s fairly certain more bodies are out there. But his friend, detective Flores, isn’t getting her hopes up yet about finding Roger Madison’s remains: “It’s going to kill me if we don’t find something. But you have to try, you just have to.”
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