Attorney General Schmitt announced his new Cold Case Unit earlier. Functioning as part of the Office’s Criminal Division, the Cold Case Unit will work with local prosecutors across the state to take a fresh look at cold case homicides, investigate those cases, and seek to bring charges in the appropriate cases.
Leading the unit are Tom Dittmeier and Dean Hoag, two highly respected and experienced prosecutors with roughly 90 years of combined experience in prosecuting violent crime in Missouri.
Tom Dittmeier was a prosecutor in both St. Louis County and St. Louis City before becoming the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri in the 1980s. Throughout his career, Dittmeier has prosecuted high-profile violent crimes, including the infamous St. Louis mob bombing cases. Dean Hoag also was a state prosecutor before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. In both roles, Hoag prosecuted some of Missouri’s most serious and violent murder and drug conspiracy cases, including the high profile Ed Post murder case at St. Louis Union Station.
Using Dittmeier and Hoag’s existing relationships with prosecutors and law enforcement across the state, as well as the work of talented Assistant Attorneys General and investigators, the Cold Case Unit will work to tackle murder cases across the state, sometimes decades old.
The Unit’s First Case
In a press conference, Attorney General Schmitt also announced that the Cold Case Unit has charged its first case, in Franklin County: the 1986 murder of Kristen Edwards. Kenneth Avery was charged with 2nd Degree Murder for the murder of Kristen Edwards and is currently in custody. The Attorney General’s Office worked with the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office to investigate this case and bring charges.
According to the probable cause statement, on Saturday, July 5, 1986, Kristen Edwards’ husband Mark Edwards came home to find his wife missing, although her purse was located in the couple’s truck parked in the driveway, a meal was left half-eaten, and the television was left on.
During a search conducted on July 8, 1986, by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Kristen Edwards’ nude, partially covered body was discovered in a wooded area roughly half a mile away from her residence. The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office performed the autopsy and determined the cause of death to be ligature strangulation.
Avery was considered a suspect previously, but new evidence led to charges being filed against him on Tuesday.