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Gov. Corbett signs execution warrant for man who raped, killed girl in 1988

By: WJAC Web Staff

HARRISBURG -- Gov. Tom Corbett signed an execution warrant Thursday for a man convicted of brutally raping and killing a 2-year-old girl in Cambria County in 1988.

Stephen Rex Edmiston, now 55, was sentenced to death by a Cambria County jury in 1989 for killing Bobbi Jo Matthew, 2.

Edmiston, originally from Huntingdon County, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on April 16. He is currently incarcerated at a state prison in Greene County.

Investigators said on the night of Oct. 4, 1988, Edmiston took the girl from her father's and grandmother's home near in Beccaria Township, outside of Janesville, Clearfield County. The girl lived in the home with them and several other children.

Police said that at about 3:30 a.m. Edmiston, who had a beard and was wearing a baseball cap, entered the home and ended up waking up Harold Matthew, who was asleep on the couch. Edmiston apologized for waking him. Matthew then went back to sleep.

A short time later, two of the children in the home noticed a man with a beard and a baseball cap enter their bedroom, walk near to where Bobbi Jo was sleeping and talk to her, investigators said. The children said the man left the room but returned, whispered something to Bobbi Jo, and again left the room.

Police said several minutes later, a vehicle was seen leaving the home.

The next morning at about 5:30 a.m., Nancy Dotts, Bobbi Jo's grandmother, returned home and went to the children's room to check on them, but did not see Bobbi Jo, investigators said.

Dotts woke up Matthew and the children, and the three described the man they saw, police said. Dotts recognized the description of the man, whom she knew as Edmiston, Dotts' boyfriend's nephew.

Police found Edmiston and interviewed him. They searched his pickup truck and found blood on a seat belt of the driver's side and on the middle of the bench seat, a blood-stained towel, bloody scissors and a pair of purple shorts that matched what Bobbi Jo was wearing when she disappeared, investigators said.

Edmiston confessed to authorities that he took the girl, and he then drew a map of an area in Cambria County where he took her, drew an X over the location on the map, and said thats where they'd find "a dead, raped little girl." The map led investigators to a remote area of Reade Township in the north eastern part of the county.

Police said Edmiston admitted to raping the girl in his truck and hitting her till she quit moving.

Police said after recovering Bobbi Jo's body at the location Edmiston specified on the map, they found she suffered serious injuries, including being scalped, blunt force trauma to her torso, obliteration of her genital area, parts of her body burned and a skull fracture. Evidence led investigators to believe that many of the injuries suffered had occurred while the child was still alive.

The signing of Edmiston's death warrant is the 31st of Corbett's gubernatorial term, but none of the executions have been carried out.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times