Dale Elmer Edwards, 75, has been charged with second-degree murder for allegedly beating his neighbor, Michael Huffman, who later died, the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office announced today (Dec. 1).
Edwards allegedly struck Huffman with a walking stick and metal pipe during a Sept. 17 encounter near their homes on Ivy Lane west of Festus, and Huffman, 68, died Oct. 3 at Mercy Hospital Jefferson in Crystal City, the probable-cause statement in the case said.
On Sept. 18, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Edwards with first-degree assault on a special victim, a class A felony, and armed criminal action, an unclassified felony, after the alleged attack.
Edwards now, however, faces the murder charge, a class A felony, instead of the assault charge, and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office still is pursuing the armed criminal action charge, Prosecuting Attorney Trish Stefanski said.
Huffman’s daughter, Jackie Huffman, 30, said she was pleased to hear the charge against Edwards was upgraded.
“I’m glad because I believe justice will be served with this charge,” she said. “I’m glad justice is turning its wheel and is going to work. It is the best possible news we could get in such a horrible time.”
A class A felony is punishable by 10 to 30 years or life in prison, and armed criminal action is punishable by at least three years in prison.
Edwards was denied bond on Sept. 28, and as of today, he was being held in the Jefferson County Jail.
On Sept. 17, Huffman allegedly saw Edwards taking pictures of his house and confronted him, and the two began arguing, the probable-cause statement said.
Edwards allegedly struck Huffman in the midsection with a walking stick and then struck him on the head with a metal pipe. While Huffman was on the ground, Edwards allegedly hit his neighbor about 20 more times with the pipe, the report said.
The Sheriff’s Office found Edwards at about 11 a.m. the next day at his home, and he allegedly refused to answer his door and called 911 and told the dispatcher that if deputies didn't stop knocking on his door, he would start shooting at them, Bissell said.
Sheriff’s Office’s negotiators and SWAT team members set up near the home, and about 12 hours later, Edwards came out of the home and was arrested without further incident.
On Oct. 3, the medical examiner reported that due to Huffman’s extensive cardiac history, the stress of the assault caused him to go into cardiac arrest, ultimately resulting in his death, the probable-cause statement said.
Jackie said her father’s injuries also included two broken ribs and bruises on his face, arms and legs.
On Oct. 9, Edwards reportedly told investigators that Huffman was the aggressor during their September encounter, and Edwards initially denied striking his neighbor. Later, however, Edwards said he hit Huffman with his fist but denied using any object to strike him, the report said.
Edwards was not injured during the encounter, according to the report.
The Sept. 17 incident was at least the second time Edwards had a dispute with a neighbor this year, according to authorities.
In February, a woman reportedly confronted Edwards, accusing him of looking into her child’s bedroom window while the child was getting dressed. The woman said Edwards pulled out a gun, pointed it at her and pulled the trigger while they were arguing. Edwards told deputies he pointed the gun in the air, not at the woman, the probable-cause statement in the case said.
On Aug. 7, Edwards was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, a class E felony, stemming from the February incident, court records show.
The class E felony carries a penalty of up to four years in prison.
Edwards also has been charged with two counts of second-degree domestic assault, each one a class D felony, unlawful use of a weapon, a class E felony, and armed criminal action, all stemming from an Aug. 31 incident in Jefferson County. The charges were filed Sept. 28, court records said.
A class D felony is punishable by up to seven years in prison, a class E felony carries a penalty of up to four years in prison and the armed criminal action charge carries a penalty of at least three years in prison.
Jackie has set up a GoFundMe page called “My Father’s Hospital and Funeral Bills” to help cover medical and funeral costs, and as of this afternoon, it had brought in $5,100 toward a $10,000 goal.
Jackie lives with her mother, Dale Huffman, 62. Jackie’s son, Parker Huffman, 1, also lives with them.
Michael and Dale Huffman’s four other children include Julie Huffman-McCarver, Jana Huffman, Jim Huffman and Joe Huffman. The Huffmans had four other grandchildren.
“We all are part of this club now that we didn’t want to join,” Jackie said. “We have lost so much already all because of some senseless, heinous crime that should never have happened.”