Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 21, 2018

Police find handwritten note saying, ‘Kill Ed’

Jul 13, 2018
Clarence Pedersen

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


A Washington man is facing first-degree murder charges as police say he followed through on a to-do list — “kill Ed.”

Clarence Dean Pedersen, 64, of Washington, remains in the Washington County Jail under $1 million bond after being charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ed Jones, 70, after investigating officers found several pieces of evidence linking him to the killing, including a handwritten note saying, “Kill Ed.”

This is not the first time Pedersen has been charged with first-degree murder, as he was convicted 40 years ago of killing his brother-in-law, Kent Nelson. His conviction was overturned in 1981 by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Pedersen was taken into custody around 10 p.m., Wednesday, July 11, after Washington Police were dispatched to called to an apartment complex at 601 W. Adams St., earlier that day.

According to court documents, Jones’ body was discovered by a caretaker working for Optimae Life Services who was called after Jones had not arrived at his place of employment for his scheduled shift. The investigation revealed Jones would usually be picked up by Washington County Mini Bus around 6:45 a.m. and arrive at work around 7 a.m.

Pedersen told police he had spent the previous evening at the residence of a female friend in Washington, returning home around midnight and going to bed shortly thereafter. He stated he had not heard from Jones for the previous two days. Pedersen claimed he left the residence earlier that morning, passing through the living room where Jones was found, on the way to smoke cigarettes and drink coffee on the building’s outdoor patio.

Pedersen then traveled to Mother Hubbard to purchase cigarettes, coffee and newspapers before going to the Optimae Life Service office. Pedersen told police he had gone to Optimae because he had run out of coffee. In interviews with police, Optimae staff told police it was unusual for Pedersen to be at the office at that time of morning.

While at the office, he spoke with his caretaker, who later told police she planned to go to the residence to provide Pedersen with breakfast. The caretaker left shortly thereafter, Pedersen following behind. Pedersen did not enter the apartment, instead he remained outside smoking cigarettes, court documents say. The caretaker discovered Jones’ body and called police.

Jones, who shared the apartment with Pedersen, was found “seated in a living room recliner chair, fully clothed, dressed for work, wearing his employment name tag,” according to court documents. It also appeared Jones had suffered a stab wound to the upper torso and a fixed blade Buck hunting knife was found lying in his lap, containing what appeared to be blood.

During an interview with Pedersen, police showed him a picture of the knife, to which Pedersen admitted to owning a similar one, but having left it in his vehicle. Upon searching, law enforcement found an empty Buck-brand knife sleath in Pedersen’s car. Court documents show what was believed to be blood was found on the right and left sleeves of his shirt.

During a search of the apartment, police found a lock box in Pedersen’s bedroom with two handwritten notes inside. The first said “Kill Ed.” The second, “Kill Yourself. Suicide.”

Pedersen was arrested in connection with the death of his brother-in-law, Kent Nelson, in 1978. A year later, Pedersen was convicted, accroding to court documents.

Nelson had been staying with his in-laws, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Pedersen, Sr., on their farm in southwest Iowa. Pedersen lived with is parents at the time and worked as a farm hand.

Court documents state on the night of Dec. 30, 1978, Nelson was asleep in a sleeping bag in front of a fireplace when Pedersen shot him. During his first-degree murder trial, Pedersen refused a public defender, instead choosing to represent himself. Court documents from his appeal show Pedersen did little to help his defense, as he did not present any evidence or question witnesses. He did maintain his innocence during the proceedings.

In 1981, the Iowa Supreme Court found Pedersen mentally unfit to represent himself and overturned the conviction.

A state public defender has been appointed to represent Pedersen for the new first-degree murder charge and preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 20 in Washington County Court. If convicted Pedersen faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

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