Swissvale killing suspect pulled from Rio Grande

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David Edick initially claimed he chucked his antique revolver into the river months before his ex-wife's new boyfriend was found shot to death with the same type of weapon.

But as days passed, he slowly began to confide in a woman he met through an online dating site and offered a sort of confession, which she repeated to police.

He fled to Mexico and was arrested last month by U.S. Border Patrol agents who caught him trying to swim across the Rio Grande River back into the United States -- with his Nagant 7.62-caliber revolver in his backpack.

Such was the testimony offered Friday at a preliminary hearing before District Judge Anthony Ceoffe, who ordered Mr. Edick to stand trial in the death of 27-year-old Ryan Beal of Swissvale.

When police arrived at the Duquesne Avenue apartment building where Mr. Beal lived with his girlfriend about 6 a.m. Aug. 31, they found Mr. Beal lying on the stairwell wedged between the banister and the wall, Allegheny County homicide Detective Steven Hitchings testified.

Mr. Beal had been shot once in the head, twice in the chest and once in the left thigh, according to a report from the Allegheny County medical examiner's office. He also had injuries to his head and spine.

Investigators think he "was shot and catapulted down the stairs," Detective Hitchings said.

Inside Mr. Beal's second-floor apartment, police found spent ammunition from a gun they don't often encounter -- a type of Russian handgun used during World War I -- a bloody fork and blood smears.

While they collected evidence from the scene, one of the homicide detectives called Mr. Beal's girlfriend, who was attending a conference in Atlanta. That woman, who married Mr. Edick in 2012 and was separated from him, told police she thought he had been following her, Detective Hitchings said.

She also told them she, Mr. Edick and Mr. Beal knew each other because they belonged in the same "circle of friends," according to an affidavit of probable cause. Authorities have suggested they knew each other through the local steampunk community, a group of people who combine an interest in steam technology and science fiction a la something out of the 1999 movie "Wild, Wild West."

Online postings suggest Mr. Edick and Mr. Beal once attended the same steampunk symposium.

Detective Hitchings said police developed Mr. Edick as a suspect the morning of the killing and found him in Etna, where he agreed to speak with them. The detective said Mr. Edick had a cut and a scratch, injuries Mr. Edick explained by saying he fell down the stairs with a pair of keys but that investigators could not explain.

Mr. Edick remained at the Allegheny County police headquarters in Point Breeze for about 10 hours, during which time he told police he tossed his gun into the river at Point State Park several months prior. When police began asking for a DNA sample from Mr. Edick, he invoked his right to remain silent, Detective Hitchings said.

But that silence only lasted so long.

Mr. Edick met a 25-year-old woman named Elizabeth Reeder on a dating website called geek2geek. He missed their third date the night police pulled him in for questioning.

He explained to her that he was being questioned for killing Mr. Beal and they thought he might have committed the crime because he had a rare gun, which he had tossed into the river, Ms. Reeder testified.

They met two or three more times. The last time he told her, "The thing they accused me of I did" and that he intended to flee to Costa Rica, Ms. Reeder said.

She testified that she didn't know how to react and she called an anonymous tipline two or three hours after they parted ways.

Concerned about statements he intended to flee the country, Allegheny County police contacted U.S. marshals and asked them to look for Mr. Edick nationwide, Detective Hitchings testified.

Mr. Edick is scheduled to appear in court for formal arraignment Nov. 14.

neigh_east

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published October 11, 2013 8:00 PM


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