Man wanted for 1976 Texas murder arrested in Wayne County

Man wanted for 1976 Texas murder arrested in Wayne County
David Lee Edds/Photo credit: Wayne County Sheriff's Department
David Lee Edds, 61, was in this tent in Wayne County./Photo credit: WCSD
David Lee Edds, 61, was in this tent in Wayne County./Photo credit: WCSD
Photo credit: WCSD
Photo credit: WCSD

WAYNE COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A man wanted for a 1976 murder in South Texas was taken into custody in Wayne County Thursday morning.

Around 9 a.m., U.S. Marshals, the Wayne County SWAT team and the Wayne County Sheriff's Department deputies executed a search off Strengthford-Cooley Road and arrested 61-year-old David Lee Edds.

Wayne County Sheriff Jody Ashley said Edds' truck was located and the team assembled before daylight Thursday.  Ashley said the tent was in a heavily wooded area and authorities believed Edds may be armed and dangerous.

"We knew he had to be close to the area. As we started in to the perimeter, into the woods, we took it slow, because you want officer safety," said Ashley.  "So, as we moved into the perimeter, within 45 minutes he was into custody.  It came over the radio, 'he's in custody.'"

Officials said Edds appeared to be asleep inside the small tent.  Ashley said he did have a knife in the tent, but was taking into custody without incident.

"I say great this morning," said Wayne County Sheriff Jody Ashley.  "Because you are worried, you are going into an area where this guy could be armed. it's hard to approach and get up close, not sure where he was in the tent. We got up, set a perimeter. As the team moved in, some prayers were said and he was taken without incident."

A murder warrant was issued last week for Edds regarding the nearly 41-year-old cold case in Houston.

Authorities located Edds' truck and found him living in a tent in a heavily wooded area. They were prepared for Edds to be armed and dangerous, and said he had a knife, but was taken into custody without incident.

Sheriff Ashley said the county has not dealt with a capture of a fugitive in years.  "A murder warrant, as old as this case is...  we were glad that we could apprehend him this morning and get this under wraps, because this area we went in to was not an easy area to get into," said Ashley.

Edds is being housed at the Wayne County Jail.

Wayne County Sheriff Jody Ashley said he expects Edds will be extradited to Texas as early as Friday.

Investigators said a review of DNA evidence in the murder case led to the warrant issued last week for Edds.

According to authorities, Edds was wanted in the fatal stabbing of 28-year-old Rene Anthony Guillotte in May of 1976 in Harris County, Texas. Guillotte was a New Orleans native.

According to KPRC, Guillotte's body was found on May 11, 1976, on an oil field road. Deputies said the victim suffered from "multiple stab wounds and cuts on his torso, head and neck."

The cold case unit at the Harris County Sheriff's Office reviewed the case in July 2014.  Cold Case investigators interviewed Edds earlier this year about the murder.  According to KPRC, Edds told officials that he did not know Guillotte, had not been to the crime scene and had no knowledge of his death.

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, once investigators reviewed the files, they were able to link evidence found at the murder scene directly to the suspect, Edds.  An investigator told WDAM 7 Thursday that while DNA evidence did play a role in the warrant, there were other factors that also led to identifying Edds as a suspect.

Edds had a previous criminal record after the 1976 murder. Just two years later, he was sentenced to 20 years in the Texas Department of Corrections for manslaughter, according to the Chron article. Edds was convicted of stabbing a man with a knife outside a bar in Montrose. Edds served about 10 years of his sentence. He was also arrested for crimes including drug possession and resisting arrest, according to the Chron.