MATTOON, Ill. (AP) – Judy Rosella Edwards was born after her sister, 14-year-old Doris L. Edwards, was murdered in 1955, but grew up feeling her absence from the lives of her Mattoon family. Edwards said her mother, Rosella, talked about Doris nearly every day when she was young and she later had access to the teenager’s diary entries. These writings shared the inner thoughts of a girl who was shy but friendly and enjoyed playing piano and performing in school plays. As an author and a former newspaper journalist, former Mattoon resident Edwards said she had long thought about telling the story of her sister, the fatal shooting of her on Aug. 26, 1955 at their family’s home, and the subsequent manhunt for the murder suspect. ‘œIt was just time and I wanted to get that story out there,’� Edwards said. Years of research culminated in Edwards releasing her self-published ‘œScream on 10th Street’� hardcover book through Lulu Press this month. This 221-page book includes dozens of cited sources and more than 70 images. Edwards said her goals with the book also included vividly describing life in Mattoon in 1995 and various locations there, including the Silver Star skating rink where Doris was a competitive skate dancer. She said late August of that year was a time of Illinois experiencing record heat and Mattoon preparing to hold its centennial pageant. ‘œThe police were busy working security in Peterson Park and elsewhere in Mattoon. Hundreds of locals were busy playing a role in the pageant,’� Edwards said in her book press release. ‘œEastern Illinois University was preparing to offer night classes for the first time, and no one wanted parents worrying about the safety of young coeds arriving on campus. Everyone wanted this murder solved quickly.’� Doris was murdered in the afternoon while she was home alone shortly after her father, Bill, dropped her off there. The Daily Journal-Gazette reported, at the time, that authorities determined she was struck by two shots as she faced the shooter in the home’s dining room. She subsequently ran outside and collapsed in the alley behind the house. Investigators subsequently zeroed in on Doris’ uncle, Lawrence Houser, as the murder suspect based on eyewitness accounts of a man seen near the 10th Street house at the time, him not returning to work at a local factory, and his firearm missing from his home. Edwards said efforts to find Houser resulted in one of the largest manhunts in the state up to that time. Soon, the search narrowed after Houser’s vehicle was found abandoned near Kaskaskia River in the area near Findlay that is now Lake Shelbyville. Edwards said area law enforcement personnel were joined by teams of bloodhounds from as far as Vandalia and by armed vigilantes in the search. She said the effort had an almost festive atmosphere, with locals bringing the searchers refreshments. The Daily Journal-Gazette reported that Houser’s body was found in the Kaskaskia four days after the murder. Later, a coroner’s jury later ruled that Doris had been killed by Houser. A coroner’s jury could not determine if Houser’s death by drowning had been an accident or suicide. No motive was established. ‘œWe still don’t know why she was killed. There was a lot of speculation about that,’� Edwards said, adding that she hopes the book might draw out other accounts from the community about the time period of the murder. ___ Source: The (Mattoon) Journal Gazette and Charleston Times-Courier,


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