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Trash and DNA evidence lead to arrest in 1995 murder of Beaumont teacher

According to a probable cause affidavit, detectives connected Clayton Foreman to the brutal murder using a family tree they constructed from a Genealogy website

BEAUMONT, Texas — The man police say murdered a Beaumont teacher in 1995 knew her so well that she was in his wedding.

DNA evidence along with a genealogy database led police to arrest Clayton Bernard Foreman, 61, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, on a capital murder charge.

Mary Catherine Edwards, who was found dead in her home, was a bridesmaid in the wedding of Foreman and his first wife, Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham told 12News.

“She was a bridesmaid in his wedding. So he knew her," Wortham said.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by 12News, DNA from semen collected from Edwards' home was matched back to Foreman 26 years later thanks to a genetics website

The affidavit says that investigators identified second cousins of the suspect from the website and were able to work up a family tree. "Detectives obtained further DNA samples (30 DNA files were voluntarily submitted) from additional distant family members," the affidavit said. 

Those DNA samples led investigators right to Foreman, the affidavit says. Trash was collected from the curb of Foreman's residence in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, and analyzed by the DPS crime lab in Houston. 

"DNA collected from the trash run of Clayton Foreman's residence is a match to the DNA extracted from the semen collected from Edwards' body in 1995," the affidavit states. 

Credit: KBMT

CONNECTING THE DOTS

During their investigation into Foreman, detectives discovered he pled guilty to raping a classmate at Forest Park High School in 1981. 

In that case, police said that Foreman gave the victim a ride home after finding her stranded at a gas station. Police say Foreman "bound her hands behind her back with a belt and held a knife to her throat" before sexually assaulting her. 

Police say that 1981 rape had a number of similarities with Edwards' murder. 

Edwards, 31, was last seen alive on January 13, 1995. 

Credit: Texas DPS
Mary Catherine Edwards, 31, of Beaumont, was murdered in January 1995 in her Beaumont home.

Her parents became concerned after phone calls went unanswered. When they went to her house to check on her, they found her drowned in an upstairs bathroom. 

The probable cause affidavit says that Edwards was found in a bathtub with her hands handcuffed behind her. 

Evidence at the time showed that she had been sexually assaulted before she was killed, according to a DPS news release.

"There are numerous similarities in the 1981 case and the Edwards' murder," the affidavit states. "First, Edwards and the first victim both went to high school with the suspect. Secondly, their hands were bound behind their back. Thirdly, both were sexually assaulted."

Police say that in the 1981 rape, Foreman claimed to be a police officer, and they say the suspect used police tools during Edwards' murder. 

RELATED: Police: New developments in 1995 cold-case murder, assault of Beaumont teacher

Foreman was arrested and charged with capital murder last week. He is awaiting extradition back to Jefferson County. 

Former students say Edwards touched a number of lives in Southeast Texas and news of an arrest in connection with her death has brought former students a sense a peace that hasn't been felt in a while.

"Her allowing me to be who I was, which was kind of shy and withdrawn, it helped me to come out of that shell at that time." Demtria Green said.

Edwards was Green's teacher at Price Elementary in 1992.

"It was sad hearing that because she was a real nice lady, and when I did hear it on the news the state that they found her in, that was horrible," former student Malcom Wells said.

This is a developing story. We will update with more if and when we receive more confirmed information.

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