COLUMBUS, Ohio (WANE) – A man who murdered two women and avoided prison time for three decades was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, officials announced.
On July 14, 68-year-old Robert Edwards was convicted of the 1991 murder of Alma Lake and the 1996 rape and murder of Michelle Dawson-Pass. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin, and Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp made the announcement Wednesday and said investigators believe Edwards may have more victims.
On June 3, 1991, 30-year-old Lake was found dead lying in the grass near a street corner in Franklin County’s Urbancrest. Deputies worked to collect and preserve evidence at the scene, submitting and resubmitting the case to the attorney general’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) laboratory. An offender’s DNA profile was developed and researched, but a suspect was not immediately identified.
On Nov. 11, 1996, 36-year-old Dawson-Pass was found dead in a remote area near a road in Granville in Licking County. She was last seen in Franklin County walking to a friend’s house. Neither her homicide nor Lake’s was solved for decades. There were suspicions the crimes were connected to the same suspect, officials said, because of brutal similarities: the victims had signs of blunt force trauma and sexual assault, were left in a residential area, and died by asphyxiation.
But the case went cold until 2020, when the BCI’s Cold Case Unit was enlisted to use new technology to solve the crimes. Advanced DNA analysis ultimately led investigators to identify Edwards as the offender in both crimes, officials said.
“This is a great example of never giving up and law enforcement agencies working together and sharing resources,” Baldwin said. “I know this doesn’t bring the person back, but it does give families answers to what happened to their loved ones.”
Edwards was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 45 years. He was also convicted as a sexually violent predator, according to the announcement.
“At the end of the day, there is no such thing as a cold case,” Yost said. “Just a case that we haven’t found the next lead.”
While Wednesday’s sentencing brings resolution to two cases, the release said investigators believe Edwards- called a “serial offender”- 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 Intel@OhioAGO.gov.