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Thursday, May 5, 2016

McGee bound over after emotional hearing

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sarah Reed points to murder suspect Edward McGee during a preliminary hearing Thursday at the Bedford County Courthouse. After serving 41 years in prison for murdering 8-year-old Phyllis Seibers, McGee has been charged with the slaying of her cousin, 9-year-old Deborah Ray. Reed identified McGee as the man she would see ride back and forth on a bicycle in front of her home on Sims Road.
(T-G Photo by Brian Mosely)
Emotional testimony was heard Thursday during a preliminary hearing for Edward McGee, who was bound over to the Bedford County grand jury for the 1966 slaying of 9-year-old Deborah Ray.

The grand jury meets on Oct. 20, at which time McGee will be arraigned, Judge Charles Rich said.

McGee is accused of murdering Ray on Dec. 18, 1966, and has already served more than 40 years for the murder that same day of 8-year-old Phyllis Seibers. The two cousins had gone to the old city dump off Sims Road to look for discarded dolls, but never returned home.

But while McGee was found guilty of the Seibers slaying in 1967, he never stood trial for Ray's death.

With relatives for both Ray and Seibers looking on, four witnesses took the stand and were questioned by Richard Cawley, who represents the state in the matter.

McGee listened silently during the testimony, never making eye contact with the individuals who recalled that day over 40 years ago.

First on the stand was 81-year-old Sarah Reed, who went by the name of Sarah Prince in 1966. She lived on Sims Road next to the city dump at the time. She testified about those who lived in the neighborhood at the time, including Ray and McGee, who lived with his aunt at the time.

Reed pointed to McGee, identifying him as the man she would see "riding back and forth to the dump" everyday in front of her home on his bicycle.

On the day the cousins disappeared, Reed testified she remembers seeing the two girls from her kitchen window, sliding down a dirt pile. She also said that she observed McGee riding into the dump on his bicycle, adding that she did not see the two girls after that.

Under cross-examination from public defender Michael Collins, Reed testified that she didn't see McGee ride with the girls and never saw anyone else in the area.

Roger Dale Kelly was 13 years old at the time and lived across the street from the Prince home. Now 55, Kelly became emotional and had to stop several times while testifying about what he observed that day.

Kelly said he knew McGee from around the neighborhood and they would talk about bicycles, adding they would frequently go to the dump to find parts so that they could build or repair their own.

Tears flowed down Kelly's cheeks as he described watching Ray and Seibers pushing each other on tricycles down the dirt road toward the dump. Kelly said he was speaking to McGee in his driveway and asked him to look for bike parts at the dump.

Kelly said it was about 1 or 2 p.m. when he watched McGee follow the two little girls into the dump. They went around a curve and Kelly never the children again.

It was an hour or two later that Kelly testified he saw McGee again, leaving the dump "in a hurry." Kelly called out to McGee twice if he had found anything, to which McGee allegedly said "Hell, no!"

However, Kelly then testified that McGee returned to the dump about 45 minutes later with four or five of "the Farrar boys" who he described as ranging from ages 7 to 10 years. McGee and the Farrar youths later emerged from the dump at dusk, Kelly said and one of the boys was pushing the tricycle.

Kelly said he called Ray's mother to ask if they had given away the trike. When the mother said no, Kelly told her the "Farrar boys" had it. It was soon after this that the two girls were reported missing, Kelly recalled.

Next on the witness stand was James C. Williams, an employee at the dump in 1966, who discovered the girl's remains. Cawley asked Williams to look at aerial photos of the dump, which were taken a few days after the bodies of the two children were found. Williams identified the location where the bodies were found.

Williams testified that he had seen McGee come to the dump several times, but did not know who he was. He also testified he was not part of the search that took place for the two cousins.

On Monday, Dec. 19, Williams testified that Jessie Anderson told his relative Lawrence, who was also an employee at the dump, that he had seen a child's shoe near a ditch. Checking out what Anderson saw, Williams said that is when he went down to the ditch and found the two girls side by side and face down.

"I was excited and tore up," Williams testified. He then traveled to Triangle Market to call the sheriff, he said.

Last on the witness stand was former Times-Gazette reporter Bo Melson, who also shot crime scene photos for the Shelbyville Police Department and Bedford County Sheriff's Department from 1966 to 1998. Melson shot the series of photos of the murder scene and was asked to identify what was in each image.

While the photos were in black and white, the images were still graphic, showing the position of the bodies and the blood stains. Melson also took photos of footprints found at the scene and also the shoe that was discovered some 20 yards from where the bodies were found.

Following the testimony of the four witnesses, Cawley entered into the record testimony from the trial in 1967, where a Tennessee Bureau of Investigations agent described McGee's confession made in January 1967, where he said, "All right, I killed them."

Also entered into the record were autopsy reports, which said that Ray died from "massive trauma to the head."

Judge Rich then bound McGee over to the next session of the grand jury.

At the time of the original trial, prosecutors did not want to try the cases together. According to T-G reports from 1967, Attorney General Jim Kidd said that the charges for the Ray murder would be presented after the Seibers case was concluded "if necessary."

Shelbyville police officer James Wilkerson, who has been working on the matter, had praise for the district attorney's office for "coming through" on the decades old case.

Melson simply said, "This has been 42 years coming."