'He was a very loving little guy'; Third person charged in death of KCK boy, 9

Relates to:
Date: 2003-01-03

Kansas City Star, The (MO)
Author: ROBERT A. CRONKLETON
MARK WIEBE; The Kansas City Star

A 19-year-old Kansas City, Kan., woman was charged Thursday evening with first-degree murder in connection with the slaying of 9-year-old Brian Edgar.

Chasity L. Boyd became the third person charged in the case. The boy's parents, Neil and Christy Edgar, also face first-degree murder charges and charges of abusing their three other children.

They made their first court appearance Thursday.

Boyd is not charged with abusing the other three - boys 16 and 12 and a girl 9 - who are in protective custody. The Edgars adopted all four children.

The defendants are in Wyandotte County jail on $2 million bond each.

Wyandotte County District Attorney Nick Tomasic said Boyd was an acquaintance of the Edgars, possibly a baby sitter. Jail officials listed her address in the 800 block of Roswell Avenue in northeast Kansas City, Kan.

After the Edgars' court appearance, Bob L. Thomas, an Olathe attorney representing Christy Edgar, expressed concern about speculation linking church teachings to child abuse.

Tomasic said Tuesday that the practice of strict physical discipline was "a teaching of the church" run by the Edgars, God's Creation Outreach Ministry, 817 Central Ave. in Kansas City, Kan.

"To date, I know of nothing tying this incident to that church; nothing, not one thing," Thomas said.

In 2000, another church member was convicted of abusing his four children with a stun gun. Those crimes occurred at the God's Creation church youth center, also on Central Avenue.

Thomas said his client "denies these charges and any wrongdoing." Christy Edgar, he said, was "very distraught" and was concerned about the funeral arrangements being made for Brian. He said the arrangements had not been finalized.

Carl Cornwell, an Olathe attorney who represents Neil Edgar, declined to comment, saying he did not have enough information.

Christy Edgar, 46, looked down during her court appearance and did not make eye contact with dozens of supporters in the Wyandotte County courtroom. Handcuffed to another prisoner, she wiped tears from her face several times.

Her husband, 47, stood motionless and expressionless as each of his four charges was read.

Prosecutors allege that the Edgars' children were frequent victims of abuse that involved binding and gagging before bedtime. Wyandotte County Coroner Alan Hancock said that Brian's mouth had been taped shut and that something like a sock had been stuffed in it. He said there were signs that Brian had vomited and that he had been bound tightly around the chest.

The boy suffocated, Hancock said.

Before Thursday's court appearance, friends and followers of the Edgars described the couple as good parents who took a strong stance against child abuse. The supporters said they did not believe the accusations.

"Loving is what they taught," said Marilyn Brown of Kansas City.

"They are lies," Nadine Mitchell, also of Kansas City, said of the charges. "They are just one big enormous lie."

The defendant in the child-abuse case two years ago was Lee Ray Banks Sr., 37, of Kansas City, Kan. A jury convicted him of using a stun gun on his children. He was sentenced to nearly five years in prison and becomes eligible for parole in December.

Neil Edgar testified as a reluctant state's witness at Banks' trial. Edgar described Banks as his "spiritual son" and said that he had no knowledge of the abuse.

"If I would have, I would have corrected him right there," Edgar said."I considered them (Banks' children) as my grandchildren, and I love them dearly."

According to a trial transcript, police found a stun gun in Edgar's desk and a paddle in his office. A police report, also referred to in the transcript, said Edgar told a detective that Banks had a smaller stun gun. But at the trial, Edgar said he did not remember making such a statement.

Edgar testified that he also had two biological children, one 27 and one 22.

The Rev. Clifford A. Jackson, superintendent of the Pentecostal District Association of the Church of God in Christ, said after Thursday's court appearance that he knew of no history of abuse at the Edgars' church.

Jackson said the church officially became part of the Church of God in Christ denomination in 1999. Jackson said that the Edgars' church would continue to hold services.

"I am in charge now," he said.

For 10 months before the Edgars adopted him, Brian lived at a foster home run by Sister Peg Driscoll and Sister Anna Mary Lawrence, members of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.

On Thursday, the sisters spoke about Brian from the white, three-story frame house where, for 11 years, they provided a home to 14 foster children.

They described an affectionate and energetic boy who left another foster home in September 1999 to live on the sisters' 36-acre property in western Kansas City, Kan.

"He was a very loving little guy," Driscoll said.

"Full of life and very inquisitive," Lawrence said.

Brian's energy could often send him running through the house and occasionally got him in trouble at school. But it could also be channeled for something productive, they said, like dusting the stairs or running with the two dogs at the home.

He loved to talk and sing. He had a toy phone and microphone, the women recalled, which he used to talk to imaginary friends or pretend to be a master of ceremonies.

Lawrence and Driscoll saw Brian two more times after the Edgars adopted him in June 2000.

In August of that year, Driscoll and another nun took him to a picnic for his seventh birthday. When they returned him to the Edgars' church, he locked the car doors and refused to get out.

"I didn't see any fear," Driscoll said. "I thought he was just having a good time (with us)."

Eventually, Christy Edgar calmly coaxed him out.

"Nothing struck me as like she was going to be abusive in any way," Driscoll said.

Driscoll and Lawrence last saw Brian during the 2000 Christmas holidays. They asked the Edgars if Brian could come to the house for a visit. Christy Edgar said he could, but only for five minutes, the women said.

A woman with the church brought Brian to the house and stood in a doorway with a stern look on her face, Driscoll recalled. As Brian received their gifts and ran with the dogs, the five minutes turned to 15. But that was it.

They never saw him again. Now, Driscoll and Lawrence are left to ponder the life Brian could have had.

"All that he ever wanted was a family," Driscoll said.

- To reach Robert A. Cronkleton, Wyandotte County police and courts reporter, call (816) 234-5994 or send e-mail to bcronkleton@kcstar.com.

- To reach Mark Wiebe, call (816) 234-5995 or send e-mail to mwiebe@kcstar.com.

Caption:
Before being adopted, Brian Edgar, above, lived for 10 months in a Kansas City, Kan., foster home.
1999 photo courtesy of SISTER PEG DRISCOLL AND SISTER ANNA MARY LAWRENCE

Before being adopted, Brian Edgar, above, lived for 10 months in a Kansas City, Kan., foster home with, above right, Sister Peg Driscoll (left) and Sister Anna Mary Lawrence, members of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. He loved to talk on a toy telephone to imaginary friends.

At right, Bob L. Thomas (left), defense attorney for Christy Edgar, and the Rev. Clifford A. Jackson, superintendent of the Pentecostal District Association of the Church of God in Christ, spoke to reporters Thursday after the court appearance of Neil and Christy Edgar in their son's death.

DAVID EULITT/The Kansas City Star

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