Engraved beneath intertwined hearts that form a headstone at the grave site of Tim Hack and Kelly Drew are words that have haunted their small southeastern Wisconsin community for nearly three decades: "Kidnapped and Slain."
Hack was a farmer who drove a tractor nicknamed "The Lonesome Loser." Drew had just graduated from beauty school. Both 19, no one doubted they'd one day be married.
But two months after they vanished from an Aug. 9, 1980, wedding reception, searchers found the high school sweethearts' decomposed bodies in the countryside only a few miles from the reception hall, setting off a nearly 30-year whodunit with few leads.
Until now. On Thursday, Wisconsin investigators armed with a DNA match arrested a 76-year-old in Louisville, Ky., who had been a handyman at the reception site. Prosecutors have charged Edward W. Edwards with two counts of first-degree murder. He faces life in prison if convicted.
District Attorney Susan V. Happ declined to comment on what led investigators back to Edwards, saying only that new evidence had emerged since he was first questioned in 1980.
Old wounds ripped open for victim's mother
Drew's mother, Norma Walker, said she was shocked to hear the news from Jefferson County Sheriff Paul Milbrath. But instead of closure, the arrest has only ripped open old wounds, said Walker, now 70. She doesn't want to hear details and is 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."
Online records in Louisville-Jefferson County, Ky., showed Edwards was in custody Friday and did not yet have an attorney. He was to be arraigned Saturday on a fugitive warrant. If a judge decides the warrant is valid, an extradition hearing will be held, prosecutors said.
According to the criminal complaint, Hack's father reported the couple missing on Aug. 10, 1980. They were last seen leaving the reception at the Concord House, a dance hall in Sullivan, a town about 40 miles west of Milwaukee, around 11 p.m. the night before.
David Hack found his son's car in the hall's parking lot, still locked with his son's wallet inside. Five days later, investigators found Drew's shredded pants, panties and bra in the road about three miles from Concord House.
In October, hunters found Drew's body in the woods about eight miles from Concord House. Tim Hack's body was found in the same area the next day. A medical examiner found signs that Drew had been tied up and strangled, and her boyfriend had been stabbed.
Edwards suspected for years
Investigators learned Edwards was a handyman at Concord House and campgrounds next to the hall. Witnesses remembered Edwards had a bloody nose during the weekend the couple disappeared. He said he had hurt it deer hunting.
The complaint said Edwards and his family left Wisconsin in September 1980, shortly after detectives initially questioned him.
They interviewed Edwards again in June in Louisville.
He at first denied hearing anything about the couple going missing, the complaint said, but when detectives pressed him he said he had beers at the Concord House and may have seen the couple. He also said he had never been deer hunting.
Investigators took DNA from him then. Earlier this month, authorities said the state crime lab matched it to semen on Drew's pants.
Investigators arrested Edwards at his Louisville home Thursday without incident.
Hack's father, now 71, said all he wants to know now is why his son and his son's girlfriend were chosen.
"I'm glad it's over," David Hack said. "I don't know how you can't admit to it if the DNA matches."