A Texas man commits murder, then flees the United States.
Bryan, Texas, is the type of place that people have in mind when they dream of escaping the big city. But in September of 1984, the illusion of small-town security was shattered for one local couple whom we will call Sue and Bill. Sue had always considered herself strong and self-reliant. However, the events of September 6th would test her character in ways she never imagined:
Fearing for the safety of her child, Sue instinctively attacked. She forced the intruder from the bathroom and then drove him out of the house at gunpoint:
Sue had seen the man up close, but authorities were unable to identify him. She and her husband tried to put the incident behind them. Then four months later, Sue got another look at the attacker:
The newspaper listed the state’s most-wanted criminals. Right at the top was the knife-wielding intruder. His name was Edward Harold Bell. Edward Bell’s long criminal record stretched back to 1969 and included aggravated rape and numerous counts of indecent exposure to children. Sue also learned that Edward Bell was wanted for a shocking murder that took place on August 24, 1978. That summer, 26-year-old Larry Dickens was visiting his mother and sister in Pasadena, Texas, a suburb of Houston. An ex-marine and youth counselor, Larry was also the father of a three-year-old girl. According to his mother, Dorothy Lang, Larry was cutting her lawn when Edward Bell pulled up in his pick-up truck:
As Dorothy phoned the police, Larry went out to confront the flasher. His mother watched from the kitchen window as the man pulled out a gun:
Larry had been shot four times in the chest and once in the head with a .22 pistol. At just that moment, Larry’s 17-year-old sister, Dawna, was returning home from cheerleading practice:
A dispatcher radioed the suspect’s description as police units headed to the scene. At that very instant, the officers recognized the suspect’s truck. Within 20 minutes of the murder, Bell was in the hands of police and on his way to face Larry’s mother and sister:
Incredibly, Edward Bell was released on bail less than two months after the murder. He quietly liquidated his assets, and with more than $140,000 in his pocket, disappeared.
When this story aired, at least two viewers recognized Edward Bell. One said he had recently met Bell during a business trip to Panama City, Panama. Another viewer claimed that Bell had lived in Panama for several years. According to Special Agent Rolando Moss of the Houston FBI, Bell was prospecting for gold on land he owned near Panama City:
Edward Harold Bell was convicted of murder and sentenced to 70 years in prison. He has since been named as a “person of interest” in the murders of six young girls in the Galveston area.