Metro-East News

Columbia police chief put on administrative leave amid investigation

Joe Edwards, chief of the Columbia Police Department, has served as commander of a task force formed to investigate the death of children. Here, he speaks at a press conference last year in Collinsville.
Joe Edwards, chief of the Columbia Police Department, has served as commander of a task force formed to investigate the death of children. Here, he speaks at a press conference last year in Collinsville. News-Democrat

Columbia Mayor Kevin Hutchinson confirmed Saturday that longtime Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards is on paid administrative leave.

“He’s under investigation by the sheriff’s department,” Hutchinson said.

He declined to comment on the nature of the investigation, but said he was notified about it by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department last week.

Edwards became chief in 2003. Edwards could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday.

He led the department during the high-profile murder case of Sheri Coleman, 31, and her sons, Garrett, 11, and Gavin, 9, who were found strangled in their beds on May 5, 2009. Sheri Coleman’s husband, Christopher Coleman, who was a bodyguard for televangelist Joyce Meyer, was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Christopher Coleman admitted to having an affair with Florida dog track waitress Tara Lintz, who was Sheri Coleman’s best friend in high school.

Christopher Coleman is being held in an out-of-state prison.

Edwards was also an outspoken critic of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Service after Elyse Mamino delivered a baby into a toilet at a Columbia home in 2009. Edwards questioned the agency’s decision to return the baby girl to Mamino’s custody. Mamino was later charged with attempted murder of the newborn girl. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years in prison.

During the course of the Columbia investigation into Mamino, Belleville police found the mummified corpse of another newborn in a dresser drawer in Mamino’s basement. She pleaded guilty to inovluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years in prison on that case.

Edwards also has served on a regional task force formed to investigate the death of children.

Jerry Paul, Edwards’ former deputy chief, is currently serving as interim police chief, according to the mayor.

  Comments