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An Ohio man has been accused of the brutal 1995 murder of a beloved teacher who once served as a bridesmaid in his wedding.
More than two decades after Mary Catherine Edwards was found raped, handcuffed and slain in her Beaumont, Texas townhouse by her worried parents, authorities arrested 61-year-old Clayton Bernard Foreman in Reynoldsburg, Ohio for the killing, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Foreman is now facing charges of capital murder after being identified as a suspect in the case through a genetic genealogy database and DNA left behind at the crime scene.
According to the affidavit, the two had been high school classmates and Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham told local station KBMT-KJAC Edwards had even served as a bridesmaid in Foreman’s first wedding.
Edwards, a beloved teacher in the area, was last seen on the evening of Jan. 13, 1995, according to the Beaumont Enterprise.
The 31-year-old’s parents went to check on her at her home the following day after they became concerned that they couldn’t reach her.
They discovered their daughter in the upstairs bathroom of her townhouse “draped over the edge of the bathtub with her head in the water, and her legs on the floor,” the affidavit stated. She was naked from the waist down and her hands were handcuffed behind her back.
Authorities said she had been sexually assaulted and had 36 separate injuries suggestive of a struggle, including bruising on the front sides of her hip “consistent with the finger marks from the suspect using both hands to control her” during the sexual assault.
The shower curtain and rod were knocked to the ground, bedsheets in an adjoining bedroom appeared to have been pulled to the side of the mattress and some of Edwards’ belongings were strewn about the room, indicating that she may have tried to fight off her attacker.
“There were no signs of forced entry, which would suggest Edwards knew or trusted her attacker,” Beaumont Police officer Tina Lewallen wrote in the affidavit.
The shocking death continued to go unsolved for decades until investigators were able to match DNA from semen collected at the scene to Foreman using GEDmatch, a genetic genealogy website, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Investigators used the website to identify several second cousins of the suspect and then used that information to develop a family tree.
After obtaining voluntary DNA samples from 30 “distant family members,” investigators were ultimately able to identify Foreman as their suspect.
Authorities collected trash from the curb of his home in Ohio and were able positively match it to the DNA collected at the crime scene, the affidavit states.
He was arrested and taken into custody last week.
During their investigation, detectives discovered that Foreman had also been linked to the rape of a former classmate at Forest Park High School in 1981.
In that case, which had eerie similarities to Edward’s death more than a decade later, the victim told police that Foreman gave her a ride home after finding her stranded at a gas station in the rain.
He falsely claiming to be a police officer to make her at ease. But after the woman got into his car, investigators said he stopped the car, “bound her hands behind her back with a belt, and held a knife to her throat” and sexually assaulted her, according to the affidavit.
He later pleaded guilty to that rape.
Investigators noted multiple similarities between the two crimes, including binding the women’s hands behind their backs.
While he portrayed himself as police officer during the 1981 rape, investigators said they found “police tools of the trade” left behind at Edwards home years later, according to the court documents.
Former high school classmates who went to school with Edwards and Foreman at Forest Park High School told local station KFDM that they were shocked by the arrest.
For years, Foreman had reportedly helped organize the class reunions and was in charge of the tribute to former students who had died.
While the arrest was unsettling for those who had gone to school with Foreman and Edwards, it brought comfort to Edwards’ former elementary students.
"It was sad hearing that because she was a real nice lady, and when I did hear it on the news the state that they found her in, that was horrible," former student Malcom Wells told KBMT-KJAC.
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