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Porchlight International for the Missing & Unidentified > Missing Persons 1968 > Madison, Roger Dale December 14,1968

Title: Madison, Roger Dale December 14,1968
Description: San Fernando,California 15 yrs old

Ell - September 20, 2008 12:59 PM (GMT)
Thirty-six years after his death at San Quentin Prison, another chapter in the grim tale of one of California's worst serial killers of children might soon be written somewhere along Highway 23 in Moorpark.

Several law enforcement agencies are preparing to dig up an area next month, searching for the remains of a San Fernando Valley boy last seen riding off from his house on his motor bike in December 1968.
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Roger Dale Madison, 15, of Sylmar was grabbed off the street and then killed in an orange grove by a freeway construction foreman named Mack Ray Edwards, according to the man's 1970 murder confession. The body was dumped in a grave in a freeway construction zone north of Thousand Oaks and then covered, according to Edwards' confession.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Department has told Moorpark city officials that a specific site has been identified and several agencies led by the Los Angeles Police Department will use cadaver-sniffing dogs and ground-penetrating radar to search for the boy's body along the freeway, probably in October.

"LAPD has been working this case out here for some time. They have been doing some cadaver dog work," said sheriff's Capt. Ron Nelson, Moorpark's chief of police.

LAPD officials who are authorized to speak publicly about the project were not immediately available for interviews, but other law enforcement sources confirmed that the investigation is under way.

At the request of police, The Star is withholding the exact location to reduce the chances of anyone disturbing the area.

Cold-case investigators are working on the decades-old case, and others like it, to provide a degree of closure for family members.

The Edwards case hit the newspapers in 1970 after he walked into an LAPD station in the San Fernando Valley to clear his conscience, according to news accounts at the time. He told officers he had kidnapped and tried to kill a pair of girls, and that one of the teens had escaped.

Edwards led officers to a nearby orange grove, where they freed the second girl from ropes. He then confessed to killing Madison in 1957 and two others and was sentenced to die in the gas chamber at San Quentin. He hanged himself there with a television cord in 1972.

Madison was a friend of Edwards' adopted son, and no trace of him was ever found after 1957.

The two other children, Brenda Howell and Donald Baker, had lived near Edwards and disappeared while riding their bicycles near Azusa in 1956. Their bodies were never found, although Edwards led investigators to where he said he had buried them.

While in custody, Edwards reportedly boasted that he had really killed 18 children. An inmate in a nearby cell told that to police, but the investigations ended with Edwards' suicide.

The stories sat in cold-case files until three years ago, when Pasadena author-researcher Weston DeWalt saw a photo of Edwards and recognized a resemblance to a police sketch of a man wanted in connection with the disappearance of a little boy near Pasadena in 1957.

DeWalt, author of a book about a climbing disaster on Mount Everest, said he has spent three years documenting links between Edwards and the disappearances of 18 children.

DeWalt said this week he could not comment on the cases because of the pending investigation on Highway 23. But in earlier interviews, he told reporters he has linked Edwards to the deaths of children from Santa Barbara to Tijuana. Although a Topanga slaying might have been committed by Edwards, apparently none of his victims was from Ventura County.

Officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Pasadena and Mammoth Lakes police departments are also involved in the investigation, according to documents provided to Moorpark city officials. "When they are doing this dig, they will be coordinating with Caltrans and the FBI," Nelson said.

Word has slowly spread of the macabre report, and Moorpark Councilwoman Roseann Mikos said the reaction is one of amazement.

"You hear about cold cases all the time. There's probably a million cold cases around the country," she said. "If there was some dastardly thing, it would be nice to bring closure to the family."

Ell - September 20, 2008 01:00 PM (GMT)

wv171 - October 5, 2008 04:22 PM (GMT)
Excavation to begin for victim's remains
Teen killed in '68 believed buried at highway ramp

The side of a freeway ramp in Moorpark will be dug up Monday by dozens of police officers and FBI agents in an effort to recover the remains of a 15-year-old San Fernando Valley boy, murdered 40 years ago and buried there by California's worst child serial killer.

Roger Dale Madison was last seen leaving his home in Arleta on his motorcycle on Dec. 14, 1968. Several months later, Mack Ray Edwards confessed to Los Angeles police that he had kidnapped, abused, killed and then buried the boy along a freeway north of Thousand Oaks.

A series of hunches and coincidences, clues and science have led officers to a place near the southbound ramps of Highway 23 at Tierra Rejada Road where four police cadaver dogs have indicated that a body was buried.

"We've had four dogs independently indicate that a body's there," said Los Angeles Police Department Detective Vivian Flores. A particle detector that sniffs out decaying human bones "went off like a Geiger counter in the same place; it clicked so fast you wouldn't believe it," she said.

A ground-penetrating radar has detected "an anomaly, or a void" in dirt that was scraped away from a hill and dumped to build the onramp and off-ramp in 1968-69, she said.

A team of 30 LAPD officers, assisted by the four police dogs, 30 Ventura County reserve deputies and a team of 44 FBI agents, will converge on the ramps to "work with hand shovels, trowels and toothbrushes," the detective said.

The work will take five to 10 days, and it will be painstakingly thorough, Flores said.

Tents will be put up, sifting stations set up, a command post established and a news media corral set up for the reporters and photographers expected. Ramps may be closed occasionally as well, Flores said.

"We certainly appreciate the patience of the motorists," Flores said.

The abducted boy's brother and three sisters all live outside California and have supplied DNA samples for comparison. They are anxiously awaiting results, she added.

"We have gone to all of these police officers and basically asked them to donate a day or two of their time," Flores said. "They all instantly agreed, and the family told me they appreciate that so much.

"The mother and father have passed away, and one of the sisters told me the family hasn't placed the ashes anywhere permanently. Now that they might get Roger's remains, they hope to place all three in one place. It means closure for them."

Working off tips

The spreading news of the multiple killings and the Moorpark site may also mean some additional cases for investigators to work on.

Flores said people have come forward with old information about the confessed killer, and one of those calls came from a newspaper reader in response to a Sept. 18 news report in The Star about the Moorpark investigation site. The reader gave detectives leads about another child from the late 1960s who may have been killed, Flores said.

The cold-case detective has been working on the case of the missing Madison boy since clues were uncovered by Pasadena book author Weston DeWalt, who found records that Edwards had been employed by the company that built the freeway in 1968.

DeWalt first began investigating Edwards three years ago, when he recognized a police sketch of the man who may have kidnapped and killed a boy north of Altadena in 1957.

DeWalt realized the suspect looked like a picture of Edwards from a 1970 newspaper account of his trial.

Working off tips from DeWalt, Flores reopened the Madison case and realized that same stretch of freeway was being widened at the time of the boy's disappearance, she said. She went to a California Department of Transportation construction meeting and asked if anyone there had been present in 1968 when the original earth-moving project for the freeway was under way.

"One guy in the back of the room says he was there, but incredibly, he knew a retired Caltrans engineer who is now up in Northern California who kept detailed construction logs for everything he had ever done. This man had a Caltrans calendar that said Mack was working on the Tierra Rejada offramp on Dec. 14, 1968."

That was the day Roger Madison disappeared, and several months after it, Edwards walked into an LAPD station to confess that he had just kidnapped a teen girl and had tied her up in an orange grove.

The terrified girl was rescued, and Edwards tried to clear his conscience by confessing to a string of at least 18 slayings of children dating back to at least 1953.

He's under the freeway'

Edwards was sentenced to death row at San Quentin for his admitted killings of Madison and two other children, and he confessed to police detectives that he was responsible for other deaths as well. Some of his confessions reportedly were recorded by a police stoolie in a jail cell who was overhearing Edwards boasting about his crimes to cellmate Charles Manson Jr., DeWalt said.

DeWalt has been researching the cases for three years and is writing a book about them.

Flores said LAPD archivists could not find the "murder book" containing police records from Madison's 1968 disappearance but lucked out when they found a transcript of Edwards' confession in the records for a different slain child, Donald Alan Todd.

In that transcript, Edwards confessed he made contact with the Madison boy, slashed his neck, and tossed the child's corpse into a hole and covered it with rocks on the construction site north of Thousand Oaks. The interchange is now in Moorpark, which in 1968 was a small settlement over the next hill.

At the time of the confession, Edwards took LAPD detectives to the shoulder of the Santa Ana Freeway in Downey, where they discovered the body of Stella Darlene Nolan, whom Edwards killed and buried there in 1953.

"But he told the detectives, You'll never find Roger, he's under the concrete, his family is not rich and he's under the freeway,'" Flores said.

In 1971, Edwards committed suicide by hanging himself with a television set cord, and the investigation petered out.

Ell - October 6, 2008 11:31 PM (GMT)
Day to Day, October 6, 2008 · Alongside a freeway near Los Angeles on Monday, law enforcement officials are hoping to locate the remains of 15-year-old Roger Madison, the likely victim of a serial killer.

If their excavation is successful, they will complete a story that began almost 40 years ago. On the afternoon of Dec. 16, 1968, Madison left his home in Sylmar, an L.A. suburb, and was never seen again.

Two years later, a highway construction worker named Mack Ray Edwards turned himself in to the police. He confessed to the murders of six children — including Madison, according to author Weston DeWalt, who is writing a book about Edwards and his victims.

"Mack Ray Edwards had a relationship with [Madison's] family, had dinner in their home," says DeWalt. "Roger Madison trusted Mack Ray Edwards. And Mack Ray Edwards lured him into an orange grove, and stabbed him multiple times, and killed him."

Edwards told police that he buried his victims along freeways at highway construction sites where he was working, using the heavy equipment he operated as part of his job. After his confession, Edwards led police to the sites where he had buried three of his victims. Their bodies were recovered; he was convicted of those crimes and sentenced to death. But the three other bodies, including Madison's, were never found.

Shortly after his conviction in 1971, Edwards hung himself with an electrical cord in his cell at San Quentin prison. When he died, so did efforts to find his other victims' bodies.

Digging Up The Past

Then, just three years ago, DeWalt shared his research about Madison's disappearance with L.A. Police Detective Vivian Flores. Others had been intrigued by the case, but when Flores learned that the teen's body had never been found, locating him became her personal mission.

"I think a lot of people take missing persons as very trivial," she says. "You know, kids that run away and then come home. He didn't come home. He never came home."

DeWalt and Flores began interviewing survivors. Madison's parents were dead, but a brother and three sisters survived. They obtained DNA samples and talked to people who had worked on the construction crew with Edwards. They read and re-read his confession. They poured over old, yellowed documents, construction plans and weather reports.

Finally, they settled on a spot along an offramp on the Ventura freeway. They brought in a team of cadaver dogs. All four dogs indicated they detected human remains in a specific area.

Then, with the help of forensic archeologists, they used ground penetrating radar. It revealed what the experts called anomalies. They recommended an excavation.

The Excavation

Along with units from the LAPD and Ventura County Sheriff's Department, a special unit from the FBI was to assist in the excavation Monday. More than 100 people — highway workers, law enforcement officers, forensic experts and archeologists — were to begin what could be the end of a three-year effort by DeWalt and Flores.

When asked why she devoted three years of work to finding the body of a boy who died 40 years ago, whose parents are dead and whose killer is dead, Flores looks a little incredulous.

"Does that mean that I forget about that child that never came home? No. We have an obligation. He deserves," she wipes away a tear, "just as much as much as all the other homicide victims, to be found, and to be brought back to his family.

"I have a child. If he went missing, I can't fathom [him] being missing for 40 years. This mother and father had to live with that. Not knowing where their kid was. We have to test our knowledge and our expertise and just work it, as best as we can. I do it for these kids. I do it for my kid. I do it because I care."

Workers could find remains within hours — or it might take weeks. If they come up empty, it's likely that DeWalt and Flores will go back to their documents, re-examine their research, and continue their search until the body of that teen, who disappeared on that fateful winter day, is found.

Ell - October 9, 2008 11:05 AM (GMT)
Investigators in cold case get tip from search dog
Daily News Wire Service
Article Launched: 10/08/2008 07:43:03 PM PDT

MOORPARK -- No signs of the remains a 16-year-old boy believed to be buried next to a Ventura County freeway were found Wednesday, even after a bone-sniffing dog let out a series of barks.
The dog, Buster, twice led FBI agents and heavy-equipment operators to focus the search on the eastern wall of a 12-foot-deep pit that has been excavated along the southbound 23 Freeway at the Tierra Rejada Road offramp.

Into their third day of digging, cold case investigators from a half-dozen jurisdictions searched for the remains of Roger Dale Madison, who was last seen just before Christmas 1968.

The dog's barks indicated that he smelled decaying human bones.

"That's how Buster says he's happy, and that he thinks he's found a bone," Los Angeles police Detective Vivian Flores said.

But as the sun set and the excavation stopped, Flores said that no signs of a body had been found. The dig is a follow-up to 1970 confession by Mack Ray Edwards, California's most prolific serial killer of teens and children. Edwards, who worked at freeway construction sites, was never convicted for the murder of Madison, but was sent to death row for killing at least six children in a crime spree dating from 1953-1969.

He committed suicide at San Quentin prison in 1971, but left a confession that Madison had been slain in an orange grove in Sylmar and buried next to a freeway near Thousand Oaks.

Pasadena nonfiction author Weston DeWalt and LAPD Detective Vivian Flores worked on the case


for three years. They found a retired Caltrans engineer who supervised Edwards and knew where the bulldozer operator was working in December 1968.
Sisters and brothers of the teen's deceased parents have given LAPD detectives DNA swabs to be compared with any human remains found in Moorpark.

A hydraulic rock-crushing machine, similar to the ones that demolished earthquake-damaged freeways in 1994, was lent to the project by the Penhall Company of Anaheim and credited by LAPD and Ventura County sheriff's deputies with dramatically increasing the speed of the dig.

Using high-tech sniffer machines that can ferret out minute concentrations of gases emitted by decaying bones long after flesh has left bodies, scientists with the FBI and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are using the recovery effort to perfect the science of cadaver searches.

"The FBI says we are writing the book here on how this type of investigation is done in the modern era," said Ventura County sheriff's Capt. Richard Barrios. "The findings here are setting the bar for the science of discovering clandestinely buried bodies."

One Oak Ridge expert said it was "highly probable" that human remains will be found.

Arpad Vass said in a telephone interview that investigators doing work similar to the "C.S.I." television show will be using lessons learned from Moorpark for years.

Ventura County homicide detectives said any possible remains could be Madison's, or those of another unknown child, as Edwards had made a rambling, sometimes incoherent confession in 1970.

More than 40 agents from the Los Angeles FBI field office are taking turns sifting tons of dirt by hand through large screens set up at the interchange of the 23 Freeway and Tierra Rejada.

Work will resume at the site at 7:30 a.m. Thursday. The project may extend through next Friday, and until then the southbound 23 ramp to Tierra Rejada Road will remain closed, as is the onramp from westbound Tierra Rejada to the southbound 23.

monkalup - October 9, 2008 07:16 PM (GMT)

Crews back out to search for remainsThursday, October 09, 2008 MOORPARK, Calif. (KABC) -- Crews will be back out in Moorpark Thursday morning searching for the remains of a teenage boy murdered 40 years ago.
A bone-sniffing dog led investigators to a 12-foot deep pit along the 23 Freeway at Tierra Rejada Road on Wednesday.
Detectives from across California are searching for Roger Dale Madison, last seen alive in 1968.
The dig comes decades after a confession by convicted serial killer Mack Ray Edwards, who says he buried Madison's body there.
Story continues belowAdvertisementSearch teams say the project may continue into next week.

Why did it take decades to take a look?

monkalup - October 9, 2008 07:18 PM (GMT)

Day 3 of search for remains, progress is called significant
By Hans Laetz
Thursday, October 9, 2008

Photos by Rob Varela / Star staff Investigators watch Wednesday as heavy machinery digs in the area where the remains of a 16-year-old boy missing since 1968 may be buried at Highway 23 near Tierra Rejada Road in Moorpark.

An excavator digs near where a teenager's body is believed to have been buried. The pace accelerated Wednesday after a hydraulic spike was brought in to break up rocks and concrete.

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The staccato sound of a donated rock-breaking machine echoed out of a 10-foot-deep pit Wednesday alongside Highway 23 in Moorpark, where detectives for a third day dug toward what they think are the remains of a 16-year-old boy buried by a serial killer when the roadway was built 40 years ago.

Work was supposed to end at 3:30 p.m., but it continued until 6:15 p.m. after a bone-sniffing dog from Mammoth Lakes named Buster let out several strong "woof, woof, woofs" at the bottom of the pit between two ramps at the Tierra Rejada Road interchange.

"That's how Buster says he's happy, and that he thinks he's found a bone," Los Angeles Police Detective Vivian Flores said.

Stressing that no physical evidence had yet been found Wednesday, Flores said the police volunteers and paid investigators continued to work because they thought that they were making significant progress.

The pace accelerated after a hydraulic spike was brought in to break up rocks and concrete Wednesday afternoon. Officials at the Camarillo office of Penhall Co. donated two men and the machine after large rocks slowed investigators' progress.

"I can't tell you how much we appreciate this donation," Flores said as FBI agents sorted through rocks and dirt in the 101-degree air.

The scene is technically a Ventura County murder probe until DNA tests prove that any remains found are those of Roger Dale Madison, who was last seen just before Christmas 1968. The killer's confession, as well as police dogs, ground-penetrating radar and particle detection indicators have led officers to the spot.

Mack Ray Edwards, who is believed to be the worst serial killer of children in the state's history, told police that he buried the body at the freeway construction site in 1968.

Although the dig is not guaranteed to find the remains, success is seen as "highly probable" by a forensic expert at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Arpad Vass, who holds a doctorate and is a forensic anthropologist, said in a telephone interview that the massive effort is yielding important information about how modern scientific devices and cadaver dogs can help find bodies buried so long ago that only decaying bones remain.

"The FBI says we are writing the book here on how this type of investigation is done in the modern era," Ventura County Sheriff's Capt. Richard Barrios said. "The findings here are setting the bar for the science of discovering clandestinely buried bodies."

Detective Scott Peterson, a homicide investigator for the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, said the body could be as far as 20 feet below the current surface.

Before he killed himself in 1971 in prison, Edwards confessed to burying the youth three to five feet down, but additional fill earth was placed over the site by construction crews building the interchange at Tierra Rejada.

"It's probably 20 feet down to the original 1968 surface," Peterson said.

Decisions about how deep to dig are being made on a day-by-day basis, but LAPD officers have said the dig could go as long as 10 days.

A smattering of criticism about the massive effort, involving as many as 100 police officers, deputies and FBI agents, has developed. Some readers of The Star have commented on the newspaper's Web site that the expense does not seem worth the possible recovery of a victim dead 40 years.

"I understand the perception of some individuals that maybe this is a waste of time, but our job in law enforcement is to take these types of things on," Peterson said as he oversaw the project.

Other than a few LAPD officers, the logistics deputies staffing the Ventura County command post and 40 FBI agents undergoing field training, "most of these officers are volunteers," Peterson said. "We have detectives here on their days off, and we have had police officers from as far away as Claremont come here to say Here is my credential, put me to work.'"

Paul Dostie, a Mammoth Lakes police sergeant who is the only sworn officer in California with his own cadaver dog, is using vacation days and drove to Moorpark at his own expense. Buster is one of four dogs that indicated decaying bones lie under the side of the freeway before the digging began Monday.

"In this investigation, we're given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go beyond what we normally do, and to recover the remains of a missing child and bring closure to the family," Peterson said.

monkalup - October 9, 2008 07:21 PM (GMT)
TodoCast provides coverage of 1968 murder file
The San Juan Capistrano-based company delivers live Web footage for LAPD
By Kristen Schott
Published: October 08, 2008 10:40 AM

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An almost 40-year-old case was reopened this week as law enforcement and forensics officials began an excavation near the 23 Freeway and Tierra Rejada Road in Simi Valley, looking for the 16-year-old body of a murder victim. Though the murderer, Mack Ray Edwards, was convicted so long ago and is now dead, the department hopes to find the remains of this one victim. But what is TodoCast's role in all this?

The local live satellite Web-broadcasting services company has been tapped by the Los Angeles Police Department to provide coverage of the dig. The free link, found on TodoCast's Web site, will broadcast uninterrupted footage. But the greater goal, at least for TodoCast, is to attract viewers who may be able to solve other homicides or finding missing children.

Bryan Hill, the president of TodoCast, is proud of what his company can offer the LAPD, as well as the greater good to the community. "The fact that our technology can be put to use for such an important cause is very rewarding," he says.

monkalup - October 9, 2008 07:23 PM (GMT)

Moorpark neighbors watch dig for remains
By Hans Laetz
Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Video: Digging up an old case

Authorities excavate an area in Moorpark along Hwy 23, where the body of a murdered boy was believed to be buried 40 years ago.
Digging to resume today in 1968 case
Digging begins on Highway 23 for body from murder 40 years ago

As a front-end loader and nearly 100 law officers labored Tuesday on the freeway behind their homes, residents on Crabapple Court in Moorpark said they applauded the search for the remains of a boy reportedly buried 40 years ago by a serial killer.

Day Two of the big dig on the northwest corner of the Highway 23 interchange at Tierra Rejada Road saw the pit deepened to about 3 feet, with a state Department of Transportation machine doing the lion's share of work.

"We've got no news," said Ana Aguirre, a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman, as FBI agents put away their tools and the sifting stations were shut down for the night. "We found some boulders that had to be moved, and we adapted to that, but it's still a slow dig."

A forensic pathologist prowled the fresh dirt uncovered by the large Caltrans scooper as it scraped the rocky soil to the side, one inch at a time. About 40 FBI agents, using the recovery effort as a drill for newly learned crime scene investigation skills, meticulously strained and sifted the dirt. Less than 100 yards to the west, curious neighbors occasionally peered out their windows at the fleet of construction vehicles, police command trailers and tents.

Authorities are looking for the remains of Roger Dale Madison, a 16-year-old Arleta boy believed to have been killed by Mack Ray Edwards just before Christmas 1968. Edwards later committed suicide in prison while on death row.

Led by the serial killer's confession and logs kept for four decades by a now-retired Caltrans engineer, Los Angeles police took four forensic dogs to the interchange over the past year, and each indicated the presence of decaying bones.

A ground-penetrating radar unit indicated some sort of anomaly under the surface at the same spot, and a sophisticated particle-sniffing machine confirmed a trace of decay in the ground, police said.

The equipment and activities did not go unnoticed on Crabapple Court, where newer Tuscan-style homes overlook the interchange.

"We had seen cars parked along the freeway over time, and we assumed something weird was happening," neighbor Monika James said. She told her 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter Monday that a person had been buried near the freeway 40 years ago, "so they would hear it from us rather than hearing it on the playground."

Kelly Jones said she had put two and two together and guessed that the activity next to the freeway was related to recent news about the old case. "I told my friends, You watch, it will be right behind our house.'"

Like other neighbors, Jones said the possible presence of remains behind her home doesn't disturb her. "There are much bigger things to worry about right now than that," she said. "I sure hope his (Madison's) relatives find their brother."

"First the tiger, then the mammoth, then this," Marcie Cota said with a sigh. Her home lies across a small arroyo from the dig site. She was referring to the escaped tiger shot last year just a few streets over and the discovery of a fossilized mammoth just up the freeway.

"All my friends up north say, You guys have the strangest news in Moorpark,' and they're right," she said.

The dig, which began Monday, will continue through Friday. The southbound Highway 23 on- and off-ramps at Tierra Rejada will be closed all week. If nothing is found by Friday, the dig might resume next week, police said.

monkalup - October 9, 2008 07:27 PM (GMT)
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monkalup - October 9, 2008 07:33 PM (GMT)

Digging begins on Highway 23 for body from murder 40 years ago
Ramps to be shut for excavation
By Hans Laetz
Monday, October 6, 2008

Digging to resume today in 1968 case

A Caltrans front-end loader began scraping dirt at midmorning today in Moorpark as more than 100 law-enforcement personnel look for the remains of a teenager killed 40 years ago.

The dig, on the northwest side of the interchange of Highway 23 and Tierra Rejada Road, will give Los Angeles police an opportunity to bring closure to the family of 16-year-old Roger Dale Madison, detectives said a news conference this morning at the site.

Police thanked Ventura County residents for putting up with the inconveniences caused by the closure of the freeway's southbound exit at Tierra Rejada Road and the curving on-ramp from westound Tierra Rejada Road road to the southbound freeway.

The two ramps are expected to remain closed for most of this week.

"It's well worth it," said Los Angeles police Capt. Jim Miller, who is heading the investigation. "I think everybody can see the importance of doing this."

LAPD Detective Vivian Flores, who has been working on the case for three years, said she talked to the missing teen's family on Sunday.

"To have a child and to not know where he is for 40 years, it's heart wrenching for them," Flores said.

The youth was murdered in an orange grove in the north San Fernando Valley on Dec. 16, 1968, according to a confession from serial killer Mack Ray Edwards.

In his confession, which languished in LAPD files for more than three decades, Edwards also said he returned to the orange grove near Balboa Boulevard and the Golden State (5) Freeway on the day after the killing and took the body to the Highway 23 construction site north of Thousand Oaks, where he headed a bulldozer crew working for a private contractor.

LAPD detectives cannot say why a search for Roger's body was not conducted after Edwards' confession in 1970, because those records from the investigation cannot be located.

Edwards confessed to several murders, and committed suicide on Death Row at San Quentin prison in 1971.

A Pasadena book author, Weston DeWalt, sparked interest in the case as he uncovered evidence of Edwards' guilt in 18 to 20 murders stretching across Los Angeles County and dating as far back as 1953.

Because Edwards was implicated in killing as many as 20 children, authorities say it is possible that a different victim's remains will be found at the Moorpark excavation.

If any human remains are found, Ventura County sheriff's homicide detectives will have jurisdiction over the case at least until the victim is identified. If they are the remains of the missing teen or another Los Angeles case, jurisdiction will be turned over to the LAPD, officials said.

"We may not find Roger's remains. We may find someone else's, and we may not find anyone at all," Miller said.

The dig began shortly after 10 a.m. today when a front end loader began moving dirt under a pepper tree that was planted after the freeway was completed.

Mobile crime-scene command post trailers, large tents and two dozen television trucks surround the dig site. A canopy has been set up over a row of screens, plastic tubs and tables where 40 forensic specialists from the FBI will sift dirt.

The LAPD brought in its own command post and satellite uplink, and was feeding live pictures to the Internet via their web site,

The dig is within sight of a row of houses in a gated subdivision to the west of the interchange. Residents there said they were unaware of the months of police work, including use of dogs and ground-penetrating radar.

tatertot - November 7, 2008 02:30 PM (GMT)

Dig will not recover body
By Hans Laetz
Originally published 12:01 a.m., October 11, 2008
Updated 03:17 p.m., October 10, 2008

With freeway traffic whizzing by on Highway 23, a brief memorial service was held today for Roger Dale Madison, a teenager killed by a mass murderer and buried when the freeway was under construction in 1968.

The remains of the 16-year-old victim will remain entombed under the freeway, officials say. Five days of digging by police from across Southern California failed to recover the remains.

The excavation ended today.

Mack Ray Edwards, who is believed to be the worst serial killer of children in the state’s history, confessed to killing the youth in Los Angeles and burying him in Ventura County. He said the body was under concrete and would never be found.

He committed suicide in state prison in 1971. Based on recently discovered evidence and new investigation efforts, authorities this week started the excavation near an exit ramp at Tierra Rejada Road in Moorpark.

As the excavation shifted closer to the freeway, however, officials on Thursday said they could go no farther because of the extraordinary cost they would face in trying to dig under the freeway.

“We’re not going to get under that freeway,” said Los Angeles Police Detective Vivian Flores today, at times fighting back tears, as she stood with Roger Madison’s sister near the edge of the 25-foot deep hole dug during the week.

“We believe from all the expert information, and all the tests that we’ve been doing, that the body is under that freeway,” Flores said.

The boy’s sister, Sherry Barlow, sobbed silently at the edge of the pit as a short prayer was said by Ventura County sheriff’s chaplain Larry Modugeno.

“Almighty God, we remember Roger, and we put him back in your loving arms,” he prayed. “We remember all of the children who have been exploited or who are missing.”

An FBI agent used a rope to get to the bottom of the pit, scooped a glass evidence jar full of dirt, and gave it to Barlow. She had carried a bouquet of red roses to the hole, and those flowers were buried.

“I would just like to say thank you to everyone,” Barlow told reporters. “It has given us a chance to say goodbye to my brother.”

Barlow said she had been warned weeks ago, when detectives told her of their plans to conduct the search, that they might not find Roger’s remains.

“I know he’s there,” she said, pointing to the freeway. “And I understand why they can’t dig any further. I guess this will just have to be his makeshift grave.”

As late as this morning, three police dogs had barked or given other signs to indicate that the scent of human bones was seeping out from under the freeway’s southbound lanes, just south of the Tierra Rejada Road exit.

Experts believe the scent of decaying bones was drawn out from under the freeway by a group of pepper tress, which sent roots deep into the ground. A ground-penetrating radar picture of an anomaly beneath the surface, and which accompanied the surfacing odors, turned out to be a four-foot-diameter rock.

Flores stressed that the dig accomplished its goal of letting scientists test new detection machines, and the efficiency of highly-sensitive bone-sniffing dogs, in the search for murder victims.

“We’ve set the standard, and are writing the scientific protocols to move forward to find more clandestine graves,” she said.

Flores also said publicity about the case had prompted people to offer more evidence about Edwards’ string of murders of children in the 1950s and 1960s, that ended only when he walked into a police station to confess to a botched triple kidnapping in 1969.

“We have several new homicide investigations were are reopening now,” said the cold case detective, who is based at the LAPD Van Nuys station. One of those cases, she said, is in Ventura County, but no details are available on it.

monkalup - November 8, 2008 07:06 PM (GMT)
Search team fails to find teen's body in Moorpark
Article from: Pasadena Star-News Article date: October 10, 2008 Author: Brandon Lowrey; Janette Williams More results for: Roger Dale Madison

MOORPARK - After five days of digging, authorities Friday called off the search for the remains of 16-year-old Roger Dale Madison.

Officials said his bones will rest beneath a Ventura County freeway, where Sylmar serial killer Mack Ray Edwards secretly buried Madison 40 years ago.

Roger's little sister, Sharon Barlow, now gray and in her 50s, laid a bouquet of red roses by the edge of the open pit alongside the freeway and cried as police and digging crews, helmets at their sides, bowed their heads.

It is the closest thing to a burial ceremony her big brother will have.

For Los Angeles police Detective Vivian Flores, who has spent three years trying to find the bodies of Edwards' young victims, it was hard to call off the search.

"It's been a long journey for me, too. I worked hard," Flores said, her voice cracking and tears flooding her eyes. "I couldn't sleep at night if I didn't try. If this was your child, you would want me to do the same thing. And I would."

Pasadena author Weston DeWalt's researched the child victims of Edwards and helped authorities pinpoint the area where the killer told police he'd dumped Madison's body.

DeWalt said the cadaver dogs continued to "hit" on the site, but the digging was called off, for safety reasons, when it got too close to the freeway. Authorities believe Madison was buried at ground level and then covered under about 20 feet of fill rock brought in for the freeway's construction.

After the excavation reached ground level, DeWalt said, the cadaver dogs were still "hitting" on the area.

"But there was no sign of Roger," he said. "The theory is that he may very likely be buried under the freeway, and as his body decomposed, that decomposition was carried by old tree roots into the area where the dogs were hitting."

It wasn't safe to dig any any further toward the freeway, he said.

"It was a pretty sad time for everybody, but his sister was extremely grateful and shook hands with everyone. It was a very emotional experience."

About 75 people took part in the dig, DeWalt said, and the excavation reached down as far as 22 feet, covering an area of 55- feet-by-40 feet.

Edwards, who had been a construction worker, told police decades ago that the spot where he buried Madison had been paved over.

The serial killer was the friendly and straight-laced son of an Arkansas policeman. He learned to operate heavy machinery in the Army. In 1954, he settled in Sylmar and joined a private construction company that often did work for Caltrans.

Edwards naturally charmed children and had long known the Madison family. He even taught Roger Madison to drive.

In 1968, he took the boy into a Sylmar orange grove and invited him to play a game for money. As part of the game, Edwards tied up the trusting youth, then stabbed the helpless boy to death.

He picked up Roger's body the next day and buried him at an active construction site where he was working in Moorpark.

"It was so hard," said Barlow, who was 11 when Edwards murdered her brother. "My dad felt guilty. ... It was never the same."

Edwards later admitted to six murders in the 1950s and '60s, including Madison's, and told police the killings were sexually motivated. He later told a jailer the number of victims was closer to 20.

In 1972, Edwards hanged himself with a television cord on Death Row.

After Madison's slaying, the Madisons picked up and went to Arkansas and continued to move around at least once a year, Barlow said.

And when she recently got the call that police were preparing to dig for her brother, she was overcome with excitement.

"I know he's there and I understand why they can't dig any further," she said, adding she would consider the site, alongside the southbound offramp at Tierra Rejada Road, a makeshift grave for her brother.

Flores said her biggest advancements on the case came from her work with DeWalt, who was chronicling another family's struggle with a son's unsolved disappearance 50 years ago.

The missing boy, 8-year-old Tommy Bowman, turned out to be another of Edward's victims, according to one of the murderer's prison letters DeWalt discovered in the course of his research.

Over the next couple of days, crews will push the dirt back into the hole. Though Madison's remains were not found, Flores said the dig was far from a failure.

"We set up protocols to move forward in finding clandestine graves," she said.

She added that though she is finished with Edwards' cold cases, other detectives will be looking into three more places where they believe he buried other children.

monkalup - November 8, 2008 07:11 PM (GMT)

Dig begins in search of slain boy's remains
Article from: Pasadena Star-News Article date: October 6, 2008 Author: Brandon Lowrey More results for: Roger Dale Madison

MOORPARK - Forty years after Mack Ray Edwards - a serial killer from Sylmar with a perverse hunger for children - killed and buried 16-year-old Roger Dale Madison, two unlikely partners believe they have finally found the boy's remains.

Nonfiction author Weston De- Walt, while writing a book about the family of another of Edwards' victims who went missing 50 years ago, and LAPD cold case Detective Vivian Flores to- gether found evidence that Edwards buried Madison's body beneath an off-ramp in Moorpark that Edwards had helped build.

On Monday, police forensics experts began a careful dig into a patch of ground along the southbound 23 Freeway offramp at Tierra Rejada Road, where cadaver dogs and technological tools have sensed decay and something buried three feet beneath the soil.

"It's absolutely to give his family closure, to bring him home and find him a final resting place," Flores said. "I have to understand there's a possibility we might not find anything. On the other hand, we may get lucky and find everything we need."

In all, the dig is likely to take up to 10 days, and identifying a body could take longer, said Capt. Jim Miller of the LAPD's Van Nuys Division. And along with providing closure to the victim's family, it's a way to test the limits of investigators' techniques and technology.

Excavators began in the morning with a backhoe, scraping off layers of earth only inches deep. They'll switch to shovels and trowels as they near their target depth. And if they find bones, they'll trade the metal gear for paint brushes and gently sweep the dirt away, as at an archaeological dig.

All the dug-up soil will be collected as evidence and tested.

In 1970, Edwards confessed to murdering six boys and girls, including Madison and his own wife's sister, and asked for the death penalty. He later told a jailer he had killed more than 20 kids.

The next year, he hanged himself with a television cord in prison, robbing some missing children's families of answers.

Madison's parents have since died, leaving his two sisters and a brother. The sisters have been talking to detectives about the case; his brother wants to be left alone, LAPD Lt. John Romero said.

On Dec. 14, 1968, Edwards tricked Madison into playing a game for money in a Sylmar orange grove, police say. Madison trusted Edwards enough to let the serial killer tie him up.

Edwards stabbed him to death.

The next day, Edwards picked up the boy's body, put it in his truck and drove it to one of his work sites - possibly the one in Moorpark - and dumped it into a compaction hole he had made earlier.

Edwards, a former Army heavy equipment operator from Arkansas who settled in Sylmar in 1954, killed and disposed of the other children in a similarly brutal manner.

He gave 13-year-old Don Baker $7 to take 11-year-old Brenda Howell - the little sister of Edwards' wife - into Bouquet Canyon in the Santa Clarita Valley area. He met them there a half-hour later in his truck and drove them deeper into the canyon.

He took Baker out of the truck and walked him up a dirt road, out of view, where he beat the boy unconscious with a rock. As Baker began to wake up, Edwards cut his throat. He told Howell that Baker had been bitten by a rattlesnake and needed her help, and killed her when they reached the body.

He shot Donald Allen Todd, 13, of Pacoima with a .22-caliber handgun after he offered him $5 for a day's work and tried to molest him.

He showed up at the Granada Hills home of Gary Rochet, 16, hoping to molest the boy's sister, but shot him after finding out she wasn't home.

And though he didn't tell authorities, Edwards admitted in a prison letter than he hadn't yet confessed that he had killed Tommy Bowman, 8, of Redondo Beach.

That letter was discovered by DeWalt, who was chronicling the struggle of Bowman's family to live with the uncertainty of the boy's fate.

During the past three years, DeWalt has delved into Edwards' life. He said Edwards' father was a policeman in Arkansas, and that Edwards himself was an avid reader of crime stories. DeWalt called him a "student of murder" and how to get away with it.

What chilled the writer the most wasn't the killer's cruelty - it was how well-liked he was.

"His family, friends, co-workers, to a person, said he's a great guy," DeWalt said. "He didn't drink, didn't cuss. Kids loved him."

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