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Man charged with murder in 1984 disappearance

Mike Glen, Houston Chronicle
Updated 11:11 am, Saturday, April 6, 2013
  • Clyde Edwin Hedrick, 59, of San Leon, has been charged with murder in the 1984 death of Ellen Rae Beason. Photo: Galveston County Sheriff
    Clyde Edwin Hedrick, 59, of San Leon, has been charged with murder in the 1984 death of Ellen Rae Beason. Photo: Galveston County Sheriff

 

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A skull fracture that was missed during the autopsy of a Galveston County woman kept her death from being ruled a homicide for almost three decades.

Now, sheriff's deputies said they arrested the man responsible for the July 1984 murder of Ellen Rae Beason, who was last seen alive at a League City nightclub.

Clyde Edwin Hedrick, 59, is in the Galveston County Jail charged with murder after his arrest Thursday.

Beason, 30, was found wedged under a sofa in a heavily overgrown area off Old Causeway Road in Galveston County, authorities said.

Homicide detectives were suspicious of Hedrick almost from the beginning.

While being questioned after the woman's death, Hedrick told them Beason drowned while swimming after they left the Texas Moon Club.

Hedrick claimed he panicked and tried to hide her body, Galveston County officials said.

Hedrick was charged with abuse of a corpse for moving the woman's body and was sentenced to a year in the Galveston County Jail.

No murder charge

However, he was not accused of murder because medical examiners at the time were unable to conclude foul play was involved because they overlooked the skull fracture.

"Back in those days, the medical examiner's office didn't have an X-ray," said Capt. Barry Cook with the Galveston County Sheriff's Criminal Investigations Division.

The case remained closed until November 2011, when Galveston County sheriff's deputies began developing fresh information about it.

That month, Hedrick's ex-wife told authorities that he had told her Beason's death was the result of a drug deal gone bad, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

He said he started choking Beason and pushed her under water, records state.

Hedrick also told his ex-wife that he had sex with Beason after her death and that he hid her body around the causeway.

Body exhumed

Beason's remains were removed March 26, 2012, from her grave in Forest Park East Cemetery in Webster and were delivered to the University of North Texas Health Science Center for examination, records state.

"The forensic pathologist examined the body and found a fractured skull that was very obvious. It occurred at or near the time of death," Cook said.

Her death was then ruled a homicide, caused by blunt force trauma, sheriff's officials said.

District Attorney Jack Roady approved a warrant for Hedrick's arrest in February.

Cold case investigators interviewed Hedrick again.

"He's denying he did anything to her other than moving her body," Cook said.

Hedrick's bail is set at $150,000.