(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — A serial offender who evaded law enforcement for three decades has been sentenced to life in prison and finally brought to justice, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin and Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp announced today.
“Two cases believed to be connected yet seemingly unsolvable have led to a life sentence for the offender, thanks to advances in DNA technology and investigators who never gave up,” Yost said. “At the end of the day, there is no such thing as cold case – just a case that we haven’t found the next lead.”
Robert Edwards, 68, was convicted on July 14 of the 1991 murder of Alma Lake and the 1996 murder of Michelle Dawson-Pass. Edwards was sentenced to life in prison today, without the possibility of parole for 45 years. He was also convicted as a sexually violent predator.
“This is a great example of never giving up and law enforcement agencies working together and sharing resources,” said Sheriff Baldwin. “I know this doesn’t bring the person back, but it does give families answers to what happened to their loved ones.”
- Lake, 30, was found deceased on June 3, 1991, lying in the grass on the northwest corner of Olive and Craig streets in Urbancrest. Franklin County deputies worked diligently to collect and preserve evidence at the crime scene, submitting and resubmitting the case to the attorney general’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s (BCI) laboratory as DNA technology advanced. An offender’s DNA profile was ultimately developed and researched but did not immediately lead to the identification of an offender.
- Dawson-Pass, 36, was found deceased on Nov. 11, 1996, in a remote area near 1740 James Road in Granville, in Licking County. She was last seen in Franklin County walking south of Kelton Avenue heading to a friend’s house. The Licking County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.
For years, despite suspicions that the crimes were connected to the same offender, the homicides remained unsolved. The crimes had brutal similarities: The victims had signs of blunt force trauma and sexual assault, were left in a residential area, and died by asphyxiation.
“This case was solved by boots on the ground, directed by scientists in the lab,” Sheriff Thorp said. “I appreciate the collaboration and coordination from BCI to solve this case.”
In 2020, the sheriff’s offices in Franklin and Licking counties enlisted the assistance of BCI’s Cold Case Unit to apply new technology to the case. BCI’s laboratory conducted advanced DNA analysis, which ultimately led investigators to identify Edwards as the offender in both cases.
While today’s sentencing brings resolution to two cases, investigators believe that Edwards likely has additional victims. Known to reside in Ohio, Georgia and Virginia, Edwards traveled for work and was known to engage in drug use and solicit sex. Any law enforcement agencies or individuals with similar cases are asked to contact BCI at 855-BCI-OHIO or [email protected].