Thursday, February 2, 2012

San Antonio, TX: Witnesses: Victim noted ex's odd behavior before slaying

One week before Dana Clair Edwards' battered body was found strangled inside her townhome near Alamo Heights, she confided to a friend that ex-boyfriend Jon Thomas Ford had recently spent five hours with her, possibly drunk and at times crying.
“She turned to me and looked me directly in the face and said, ‘I'm concerned how Thomas is doing,'” Melissa Federspill recalled at the second day of testimony in Ford's murder trial. “She told me ... she planned to spend a little time together (to exchange Christmas gifts). It ended up being a lot of time because he was so emotional.”
It wouldn't be the last odd encounter involving Ford in days before and after Edwards' death, the witness said.
Ford, 43, was charged in February 2010 with the slaying, which is believed to have occurred early on New Years Day 2009 after Edwards got home from a party both had attended. The body of her dog, Grit, was found thrown over Olmos Dam a week later.
He acted strange at the New Years Eve party, Federspill said. As the group played a board game, she made a joke about him and her boyfriend, Alan Tarver, not having much interest in marriage.
“There was a lot of laughter. I think it rubbed Thomas the wrong way towards the end of the game,” she said, explaining that Ford motioned her over from the other side of the room. “He said he didn't think it was funny at all.”
Shortly thereafter, she said, Ford left. It was not yet midnight.
Federspill and Tarver both told jurors Thursday that after the party they drove to Ford's nearby Alamo Heights home to drop off a cooler of beer, but saw his Tahoe wasn't there. In separate conversations with Ford in the month that followed, each recalled him stating he had gone straight home from the party and to bed.
“I didn't press on it, but I just thought, ‘Well, that's not what I saw,'” Tarver said, adding that he broke off contact with Ford after that.
Referring to Alamo Heights and surrounding neighborhoods as a “very insular” community where “folks ... think they know about each other,” Houston-based defense attorney Dick DeGuerin accused Tarver of dropping a lifelong friend over a rumor.
Tarver at one point conceded that Ford's Tahoe could have been parked in the dark and he didn't see it. He later said his headlights would have shone on the only areas he knew his friend to park.
Federspill said in her last talk with Ford she mentioned reading in the newspaper that Edwards had been strangled. Ford had earlier told her he heard she died of blunt force trauma, she told jurors.
“He just looked at me,” she said, adding that Ford didn't seemed disturbed or distraught by the news. “He said he'd check the paper. I was kind of reaching out, I felt. We didn't have any connection.”
Testimony resumes Friday in the 186th District Court.

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