Twenty-eight years after he was charged with tampering with a corpse, Clyde Edwin Hedrick has been charged with turning that person into a corpse in the first place.
The Galveston County Sheriff's Office, in connection with League City police and the FBI, announced the arrest of the 59-year-old San Leon man in the cold-case murder of Ellen Rae Beason. Hedrick had been questioned and cleared after Beason's body was found in 1985. According to a Galveston County Daily News article from the time, the medical examiner found no evidence of foul play in the death of the 30-year-old woman, who had been reported missing a year earlier, and Hedrick passed a lie-detector test. One of the reasons the ME was unable to find evidence of murder was that the ME's office had no X-ray at the time, and Beason's skull "was not completely cleaned," thus obscuring evidence of, um, blunt force trauma, according to Sheriff's spokesman Captain Barry Cook.
A lieutenant who retired from full-time duty and was working part time on cold cases had decided to focus on the Beason case, and figured a thorough autopsy was in order, so Beason's remains were exhumed, Cook said. The remains were examined by a forensic pathologist at the University of North Texas Health Science Center who observed a skull fracture that allegedly occurred at or around the time of death.
According to the 1985 article, Hedrick told police Beason drowned.
The story states that Hedrick told police he had been at a League City club with Beason on July 29, 1984, and they subsequently "drove to a remote sandpit in Dickinson near Highway 3. At the sandpit, [Hedrick] remained in his truck while Ms. Beason went swimming. She was said to have 'accidentally drowned'...[Hedrick] tried to revive the woman, but his attempts failed."
That's when Hedrick allegedly "panicked" and did what anyone would do in such a situation: He tossed the body in his truck and then drove around, looking for a good dump site.
"He concealed the body near the Causeway...Human remains were found by police under a couch, in tall weeds off Old Galveston Road," according to the 1985 article.
Nothing sketchy there!
The Sheriff's official interviewed at the time said, "We administered a polygraph test and he passed it. We have no evidence of foul play...We'll close out the case."
Cook told us that Hedrick was convicted of tampering with a corpse, but we're having trouble confirming that. What we can tell, though, is that Hedrick went on to be convicted on charges of larceny, cocaine possession, making a terroristic threat and evading arrest.
Hedrick is being held in jail in lieu of $150,000 bond.