Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 16, 2018

More details released about man’s death

By David Hotle, Golden Triangle News Service | Jul 17, 2018

A Washington man is facing first-degree murder charges as police say he followed through on a to-do list — “kill Ed.”

Clarence Dean Pedersen, 64, of Washington, remains in the Washington County Jail under $1 million bond after being charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ed Jones, 70, after investigating officers found several pieces of evidence linking him to the killing, including a handwritten note saying, “kill Ed.”

This is not the first time Pedersen has been charged with first-degree murder, as he was convicted 40 years ago of killing his brother-in-law, Kent Nelson. His conviction was overturned in 1981 by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Pedersen was taken into custody around 10 p.m., Wednesday, July 11, after Washington Police were dispatched to an apartment complex at 601 W. Adams St., earlier that day.

According to court documents, Jones’ body was discovered by a caretaker working for Optimae Life Services who was called after Jones had not arrived at his place of employment for his scheduled shift. The investigation revealed Jones would usually be picked up by Washington County Mini Bus around 6:45 a.m. and arrive at work around 7 a.m.

Pedersen told police he had spent the previous evening at the residence of a female friend in Washington, returning home around midnight and going to bed shortly thereafter. He stated he had not heard from Jones for the previous two days. Pedersen claimed he left the residence earlier that morning, passing through the living room where Jones was found, on the way to smoke cigarettes and drink coffee on the building’s outdoor patio.

Pedersen then traveled to the Washington area BP and Mother Hubbard to purchase cigarettes, coffee and newspapers before going to the Optimae Life Service office. Pedersen told police he had gone to Optimae because he had run out of coffee. In interviews with police, Optimae staff told police it was unusual for Pedersen to be at the office at that time of morning.

While at the office, he spoke with his caretaker, who later told police she planned to go to the residence to provide Pedersen with breakfast. The caretaker left shortly thereafter, Pedersen following behind. Pedersen did not enter the apartment, instead he remained outside smoking. cigarettes, court documents say. The caretaker discovered Jones’ body and called police.

Jones, who shared the apartment with Pedersen, was found “seated in a living room recliner chair, fully clothed, dressed for work, wearing his employment name tag,” according to court documents. It also appeared Jones had suffered a stab wound to the upper torso and a fixed blade Buck hunting knife was found lying in his lap, containing what appeared to be blood.

While interviewing Pedersen, police showed him a picture of the knife. Pedersen admitted to owning a knife like the one shown. In the criminal complaint, authorities found an empty Buck-brand knife sheath in Pedersen’s car and “apparent blood” was found on the right and left sleeves of his shirt.

During a search of the apartment, police found a lock box in Pedersen’s bedroom with two notes inside. The first handwritten note said “Kill Ed.” The second, “Kill Yourself. Suicide.”

This is the second time Pedersen has been accused of murder.

In 1979, he was convicted of shooting and killing his brother-in-law, Kent Nelson, according to court documents.

Nelson had been staying with his in-laws, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Pedersen, Sr., on their farm in southwest Iowa. Pedersen lived with is parents at the time and worked as a farm hand.

Court documents state on the night of Dec. 30, 1978, Nelson was asleep in a sleeping bag in front of a fireplace when Pedersen shot him. During his first-degree murder trial, Pedersen refused a public defender, instead choosing to represent himself. Court documents from his appeal show Pedersen did little to help his defense, as he did not present any evidence or question witnesses. He did maintain his innocence during the proceedings.

In 1981, the Iowa Supreme Court found Pedersen mentally unfit to represent himself and overturned the conviction.

A state public defender has been appointed to represent Pedersen for the new first-degree murder charge and preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 20 in Washington County Court. If convicted this time, he faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

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