INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- A jury in Marion Superior Court, after nine hours of deliberations, convicted Johnny Jones of the 1998 killing of Kenya Edwards on the north side of Indianapolis.
“That was just a devastating day,” said Edwards’ best friend Martia Stewart. “And so to hear that this is over-- so grateful for the kids, for the family, closure is so important for everybody.”
Edwards’ body was found in the basement of a burning home in the 3800 block of North Tacoma Avenue on Nov. 5, 1998.
An autopsy determined she had been burned alive after being raped.
It wasn’t until 2015 that DNA evidence recovered from Edwards’ body led to a match with an inmate who had been in and out of Indiana prisons since the 1970s, when he first served time on a rape conviction.
“In 2013, Johnny Jones was arrested on a weapons violation,” said IMPD Cold Case Sgt. Dave Ellison, who questioned Jones in prison. “Ultimately he denied that he knew the victim several times. He denied having any type of sexual relations with anybody up after he got out of prison up until the time I talked to him.”
Jones’ DNA sample recovered from Edwards’ body proved otherwise.
Building upon the work of the original detectives and the results discovered by forensics specialists, Ellison and Marion County prosecutors convinced jurors that Jones had murdered Edwards and seemingly gotten away with it until now.
“It’s a victory for the family, but its also a victory for other cold cases because it shows we can solve it. It just takes time,” said Cold Case Detective Greg West.
“I am able to enjoy the fact that we can provide some sense of closure for the family,” said Ellison. “It doesn’t make the pain go away but it does help just a slight bit to now have answers to what happened on a certain day that altered their life forever.”
“When you have a cold case you are stuck,” said Stewart. “You stay in that space of when, where, why, how, who? If could, would be, because I know for me one of the things that run in my head is, maybe I should’ve called her when I thought to call but I didn’t.”
IMPD’s cold case squad consists of two detectives working out of an office stuffed with hundreds of files of unsolved murders.
Their trial record is four-for-four, winning convictions on every case they’ve brought to court with another currently pending of a suspect recently arrested for a 1990s unsolved murder.
Stewart said she’s learned a lot in the 20 years since her friend was killed.
“I would say please just trust God and just trust the system. It will work out for you. It may not be when you want to, but it will work for you.”
If you know anything about any unsolved murder, call Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS. Your information could be worth a $1,000 reward.