Family Asks To Exhume Murdered Mother

 Chris Shaw, Reporter KTHV 8-27-2004 Transcript

More than 28 years after Linda Edwards was brutally murdered, her children ask to have her body exhumed in hopes DNA can help catch her killer.

Toby Edwards calls it a long shot, one he and his sister Kim have to take.

Thursday they signed paperwork giving the approval to have their mother’s body exhumed. It’s just the latest and perhaps last chance to catch her killer. A county judge will have the final say on whether or not the exhumation takes place.

August 22, 1976 Linda Edwards left her two children at home to go to work at the Garland County Sheriff’s Department. Six months later, hunters found the skeletal remains of the single mother in the woods on the south side of Jack Mountain in Hot Spring County.

Thurman Abernathy, an investigator with the Garland County Sheriff’s Department at the time, was charged with the murder, but the charges were later dropped. No one else was ever arrested in Edwards’ death.

No matter how hard he tries, Toby Edwards can’t brush aside his feelings.

“Deciding to go through with this, it was a very hard decision,” he says.

The decision to exhume his mother was made out of hope. “For any DNA evidence they could possibly find,” Toby Edwards says.

That technology wasn’t available 28-years ago. There was no evidence where the body was found and because Edwards’ body was in the woods for six months before it was discovered, her son knows there might not be enough DNA left to make it possible now.

“Even if nothing comes out of it, if I do everything I possibly could do, maybe I can move on,” Toby Edwards says. Which has been hard for Toby and Kim. When they visit Linda’s headstone, they read a poem she wrote. The first line, ‘are you held by the past?’ is eerily similar to the lives they’ve been leading and the unanswered questions about her violent death.

“I think she struggled too,” Toby Edwards says. “And that’s what keeps playing in my mind, the struggling. And nobody should have to go through that and it’s just time for something to happen.”

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