A Montana detective and author doesn’t believe that Christopher Coleman strangled his wife and kids in the family home in Monroe County in 2009.
He believes a serial killer murdered the Colemans and framed Christopher Coleman as his final act in a decades-long murder spree that spanned the country.
“Edward Edwards was a real charmer, but he was a killer,” said John A. Cameron, a retired cold case detective, who wrote a book about Edwards called “It’s Me! Edward Wayne Edwards, The Serial Killer you Never Heard Of.”
A jury in the Coleman case heard evidence during a two-week trial, including from famous forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden. After two days of deliberation, the jurors found Coleman guilty of killing his wife, Sheri, and sons Gavin and Garett in their Columbia home.
Enrico Mirabelli, a cousin of Sheri Coleman, called the serial-killer theory ridiculous.
"Anybody who believes this probably has a mental deficiency and probably still believes in the Easter Bunny," Mirabelli said Friday. "I've always said there are three people who could have done this: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Chris Coleman. Obviously, the first two don't exist."
The Coleman murders came to Cameron’s attention after his book was published in 2014. Cameron met with the Coleman family when he drove here from Montana. He later met with Christopher Coleman at the Dodge Correctional Center in Waupun, Wisc. — a prison where Cameron said Edwards was once held.
Coleman used the Dodge Correctional Center as the return address in a letter he wrote to the court last year. He had been transferred out of the Illinois Department of Corrections after his conviction for safety reasons.
Cameron didn’t believe that Coleman ever met Edwards during his stay there. Edwards was transferred to Ohio where he received a life sentence in 2010 for the murder of Billy Lavaco and Judy Straub in 1977.
Cameron wrote a report about Edwards and his connections to the Coleman murders. Christopher Coleman added it to an appeal he filed last year with the 5th District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon.
In that appeal, he argued the jurors were biased against him by prosecutors who showed explicit photos and texts between him and his mistress, Florida dog-track waitress Tara Lintz.
He also wrote a letter to the then-presiding judge in his case, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Randy Kelley, maintaining his innocence and detailing his transfer from the Illinois Department of Corrections to Wisconsin.
Two men in regular clothes walked Coleman out the front door of Pontiac Correctional Center and through the civilian parking lot, then drove him to Wisconsin, Coleman wrote in the letter.
Coleman described sitting alone with the warden’s secretary in the intake room.
“Me and her sat alone and she asked me where I want to be from. We made up some information and she skipped filling in the rest. To this day, if you look me up on the IDOC or the Wisconsin DOC websites, I don’t exist,” Coleman wrote.
Edwards delighted in framing people for his murders, Cameron said, and the Coleman case is just another example of it.
Cameron believes Edwards is the killer in many high-profile cases, such as the Jon Benet Ramsey murder, the 1947 murder of the Black Dahlia murder, the Atlanta child murders, the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh and the Zodiac murders.
“I firmly believe he was the Zodiac killer,” Cameron said.
Edwards died in 2011. He was 78.
Edwards also liked to taunt and play with his victims, according to Cameron. Cameron said the threatening letters that were found in the Coleman mailboxes further cement his belief that Edwards killed the mother and her two sons while Christopher Coleman was at the gym.
Cameron theorized that Edwards sneaked into the Coleman house with a key he got, possibly at the church where Sheri worked as a receptionist, then stayed there until Christopher Coleman left for his morning workout. He then killed Sheri Coleman, then the boys, according to Cameron's theory.
Edwards then grabbed a can of red spray paint on a basement desk and painted on the walls, Cameron said. He cooled the bodies with Air Duster, the aerosol used to clean computer keyboards, to make the bodies seem as if they had been dead for hours before Christopher Coleman found them just before 6 a.m.
Cameron pointed to a number of reasons the Colemans became a target for Edwards:
- The name of the woman who typed Edwards' own book, "The Metamorphosis of a Criminal," was named Coleman.
- Edwards' real last name was Meyer, like Coleman’s employer televangelist Joyce Meyer. Edwards also hated religious people, according to Cameron.
- Edwards shared a last name with then-Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards.
- Edwards liked to kill on holidays. The Colemans were murdered on May 5, 2009 — Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican Independence Day.
- Edwards targeted men who were cheating on their wives. Christopher Coleman was having an affair with Lintz, Sheri Coleman’s high school friend.
- Edwards signed the murders with spray paint on the wall of the Coleman house.
"His name is right there," Cameron said.
Embedded on the spray-painted threats written on the Colemans' wall, Cameron said, he sees Edward Edwards’ name — in a kind of code — same kind of code Cameron said Edwards used to write letters to San Francisco-area newspapers and high-profile lawyer Melvin Belli. The letters were signed “The Zodiac.” The writer claimed to be a serial killer who operated in Northern California from at least the late 1960s to the early 1970s, killing six. The murders have never been solved.
Cameron also stated Edwards was a genius, a sadomasochist who aspired to be the best criminal ever. While he served years in prison for arson, burglary and armed robbery, he was never convicted of murder until 2009.
Edwards completed on two game shows — “To Tell The Truth” and “What’s My Line?” — in the 1970s. It’s a display of his cunning, Cameron said.
Lloyd Cueto Jr., Coleman’s appointed attorney, said he’s pursuing an appeal.
But Cueto stated he would not pursue the theory of Edwards as the “real killer” in the Coleman case. There are better issues that can be raised on appeal, Cueto said.
“I think there’s a real chance he could get a new trial in this appeal,” Cueto said on Friday.
Coleman in 2011 was sentenced to life in prison.