Residents also may recall the rape of a 15-year-old boy at Wamplers Lake, and how a man from Norvell was eventually discovered, charged and convicted of the case.
But now people curious about the inner workings of police investigation can get a new perspective on those and 10 other cases. Clif Edwards, the Michigan State Police Detective who handled them, shares a dozen stories of murder, safe-robbing, swindling and other incidents handled by the MSP in his new book, Paths Crossed: A Closer Look.
Central to the book are cases with local connections. The 12 cases include the murder of Philip McClain of Devils Lake; a case involving a fencing ring that Edwards worked with now Columbia Police Chief David Elwell; the working of a cold case in the killing of Donald Reynolds, the owner of the Silver Rail Bar on Brooklyn Road (most-recently the establishment was called Giglio’s) and other cases.
Edwards’ was recruited into the Michigan State Police at the age of 18. During his nearly 27-year career, he thrived on the training and experiences provided by this department, while striving to make his mark.
The first half of Edward’s career was served in the uniform services division. Serving between six posts, he was a field training officer for five rookies, assigned to an undercover team, and served as an advanced accident investigator, a dog handler, and a shift supervisor.
But it was his career as a detective that Edwards, a stickler for details, excelled. As a detective sergeant, he earned three Meritorious Awards: one for solving a serial kidnapper/rapist case, one for solving an organized crime case, and the last for solving a 15-year old murder case. He was twice nominated trooper of the year, and earned four Professional Excellence Awards and two Letters of Commendations for investigations he conducted.
As a detective, Edwards’s attention to detail served him well as be pieced together crimes. His attention to details also serves readers of Paths Crossed: A Closer Look well as they learn of the inner workings of the police agencies, as well as insights into cases people previously only had access to through the press.
But why write the stories down?
At age 45, Edwards retired from the MSP. At age 47, he graduated from the National Park Service Seasonal Law Enforcement Ranger Academy, Wildland Fire Fighter Training, and Emergency Medical Technician Training. One of his first duties was as a ranger at Isle Royale National Park. Edwards notes that “there wasn’t a lot to do there at night” and he began writing his Paths Crossed series.
The end result allows readers a chance at the inside scoop of police work from the officer handling many of the high-profile cases in the area. The stories are written in first-person account, but with some colorful quotes. While one chapter includes some coarse language, which is central to the figure’s personality, most of the book is suitable for all audiences. Readers with a nose for details will find Paths Crossed: A Closer Look fascinating for its look at crime solving, cases pertinent to the area, and detailing of police agencies working (or in some cases, not working) together.
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