Michael Lee Edwards was 27 years old when he was abducted and murdered after leaving the police academy. His body was later found inside an abandoned, burned-out apartment building in south central Los Angeles, California.
Edwards was a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, but he was off-duty at the time of his death.
On May 10, 1974, Edwards went to the “Police Academy bar to celebrate with fellow officers. He was about to go on vacation following a stint with the LAPD anti-gang unit, CRASH,” according to ABC 7.
At around 10:30 p.m., he told other officers that he had to leave because he was going on a date with a woman in Long Beach.
Edwards left the police academy and was never seen alive again.
At around 9 a.m. the following day, Edwards was found dead. Two teenage boys, who were on their way home from the grocery store, spotted a body inside an abandoned apartment building at 120 West 89th Street and immediately alerted police.
Investigators said Edwards had been dead for several hours before he was found with his hands handcuffed behind his back and his shirt pulled over his face.
An autopsy revealed that Edwards had been shot several times in the back of the head, and his gun, a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson Airweight, along with his cash were missing.
Fifteen hours after Edwards’ body was found, police officials received a call from a resident in the area of 186th Street and New Hampshire Avenue about an abandoned vehicle.
It matched the description of Edwards’ car, which had been reported missing.
When they arrived on the scene, they verified that the car, a 1972 gold Pinto station wagon, belonged to Edwards.
The vehicle, which was found about 10 miles from where his body was located, was impounded and handed over to the forensics investigation team.
Investigators discovered that the keys were still in the ignition, and a handkerchief containing fingerprints was found inside the car.
When the fingerprints were run through the database, investigators ascertained that they did not belong to anyone in the system.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles police officers continued their investigation, questioning several residents in the area.
A woman who lives near the abandoned building where Edwards’ body was found told police in 1974 that she “heard gunshots between midnight and 1 a.m., but she didn’t immediately notify police until after her sons found the body,” according to the Vallejo Times-Herald.
Another resident claimed to have heard shots as well, but no one saw anything unusual that day.
Det. Daryn DuPree with the LAPD Robbery and Homicide Division said, “It was turbulent times; officers had to be careful. There were a lot of threats against the police department.”
Edwards joined the force in September 1969. He was married with two children at the time of his death, but they were separated.
Officials said he was in another relationship with a woman, who has opted to remain anonymous for safety reasons.
More than four decades have passed, and no arrests have been made in connection with Edwards’ abduction and murder.
His case remains unsolved.
Anyone with information regarding the unsolved murder of officer Michael Lee Edwards is encouraged to contact the LAPD Robbery and Homicide Division at (213) 486-6830.
To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477), or report tips online at www.lacrimestoppers.com.