Murder or suicide? Ohio BCI reviews local cold case

Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 9:27 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - 19 Investigates uncovered new developments in a cold case out of Beachwood.

A 22-year-old man’s suspicious death is now getting a second look.

We’ve learned Ohio BCI’s Cold Case Unit is now assisting Beachwood Police with their investigation into Jason Edwards’s death.

Jason had big dreams and a bigger heart, according to his parents Linda and John. “He wanted to be an actor, but he also got started in music and he was a prolific writer,” John Edwards said.

“Jason was Jason is a very kind, never met a stranger, always giving,” Linda Edwards said.

They’re still searching for answers nearly seven years after he died.

One October day back in 2015, Jason’s dad says he got a phone call from his son, who had just gotten home.

He spoke to him for a bit and then got another call from Jason.

But this time, Jason wasn’t talking to him.

“So I was like Jason? And I held the phone for a few minutes and I just listened and I heard this dialogue between my son and someone else,” John Edwards said.

At the time, he thought this was a bit odd.

Later, they came home to find their front door wide open and Jason lying on the floor.

In a panic, they called 911.

His dad performed CPR.

“We had no idea my son had been shot. So they come back outside and they say, ‘well, do you own a gun.’ And I was like, ‘yeah’ and they said ‘well your son committed suicide’ and I’m like, ‘no my son didn’t commit suicide.’ Edwards said.

Beachwood Police found a gunshot wound to Jason’s chest and the gun lying underneath him.

Police listed it as a suicide on the report.

But we found the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner ruled the manner of Jason’s death as “undetermined.”

John Edwards said a lot of details just didn’t add up.

The day Jason died, he said he asked Beachwood Police this--

“I said do me a favor. I said, I’m a former police officer. I need you to fingerprint my house right away,” he said.

Edwards said that didn’t happen, and he said police never searched for anyone that may have been in the house at the time.

But now years later, a new Beachwood police chief has reached out to Ohio BCI for help.

19 Investigates spoke with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost about Jason’s case.

“Well the unit’s looking at the case file now, looking at what’s been done. What was followed up on. Also taking a look at the inventory of the evidence, and saying what can we make out of this, what can we test, what might we be able to find,” Yost said.

Yost said the cold case unit is pretty new and uses cutting edge technology to solve cases.

“So these are things where we might be able to come in and look at an old case and say, hey there’s developments here, there’s new resources here, let’s run this thread out a little bit farther,” Yost said.

The Ohio BCI Cold Case Unit will assess Jason’s case and then decide the next steps for investigators to take from there.

For Jason’s family, after years of fighting and hearing nothing, finally they say they have some hope.

“First of all, we want the murderers that killed our son brought to justice. Second of all, we want Beachwood to do a better job in case they ever have something like this again, no parents should have to go through this,” Edwards said.

Beachwood Police Chief Kate Dolan sent us the following statement in this case:

In 2015, the Beachwood Police Department responded to a report of an unresponsive male with a single gunshot wound at his residence. The male was identified as Jason Edwards. An investigator from the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office responded to the scene. The Beachwood Police Department had assistance with this case from Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Major Crimes Unit and the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office. In 2017, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation became involved and conducted a complete case review.

Upon a recent conversation with a representative from BCI who was familiar with the case, it was mentioned that a fairly new division within BCI exists now, known as the Cold Case Unit. I reached out this unit’s supervisor to see if they would be willing to examine the case further, and they have agreed to meet with our detectives to review the case.

Since 2015, resources and technologies have continued to change and improve, so I am hopeful having the Cold Case Unit’s involvement may lead to further conclusions.

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