Crime

Persistence and Determination

This morning we reported on an excavation that began today along a freeway off-ramp north of Los Angeles. Authorities are hoping to find the remains of a fifteen year-old boy.

Roger Madison went missing forty years ago. A few years later, a serial killer named Mack Ray Edwards confessed that Madison was one of at least six children he had killed. But Edwards claimed he didn't remember where he buried the body.

The work may result in the recovery of Madison's remains, four decades after he was killed. But, whatever the result, the two people behind it are examples to all of us about what can be accomplished with some single-minded determination.

Writer Weston DeWalt

Writer Weston DeWalt Steve Proffitt, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Steve Proffitt, NPR

Weston DeWalt is an author and researcher. He learned about Roger Madison's murder while gathering information about another murder victim. He shared his research with LAPD detective Vivian Flores, and for the past three years the two have been virtually joined at the hip, conducting an excruciating investigation into a forty year-old murder.

LAPD Detective Vivian Flores

LAPD Detective Vivian Flores Steve Proffitt, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Steve Proffitt, NPR

Detective Flores is the mother of a ten year-old son, and she says she can't imagine what she would do if he turned up missing. So, while she carried a full caseload as a police detective, she put in long hours, often on her own time, interviewing people, examining old documents, and engaging in old-fashioned detective work, trying to pinpoint the site where the killer disposed of Roger Madison's body.

The Los Angeles Police Department has set up a live Web cam at the site of the dig, and you can watch the progress of the excavation as it happens.

It could be weeks before the dig is complete, and investigators could turn up empty. If they do, it's a good bet that DeWalt and Flores will take that as only a minor set-back, and press on looking for new clues. Attention, criminals: as long as this duo is around, think twice before conducting your next caper.

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