June 3, 2004
Police Say Husband Confesses To Murder - Missing Woman's Body Believed Found
By Gary E. Lindsley
The husband of a missing 35-year-old Johnson woman has confessed to killing her, Vermont State Police said Wednesday evening. Police also announced that a woman's body, believed to be that of Jodie Whitney, had been found that afternoon.
Lt. Leo Bachand, the state police Troop B Criminal Division commander, said Edgar Whitney, while being interviewed at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington late Wednesday afternoon, confessed to killing his wife.
Whitney notified police around 10 p.m. May 27 that his wife, Jodie, had not returned home. She had not arrived to work at the Stoweflake Resort in Stowe that day. He reported last seeing her that morning before he left for work.
Jodie's white Jeep Cherokee was found by a citizen within a 5-mile radius of the Whitney home Friday.
Authorities from the Lamoille County Sheriff's Department, state police Search and Rescue Team, the state police Criminal Division, and police officers from Stowe and Morrisville, have been working together to find Jodie, according to Bachand.
Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux, during a press conference in front of the Lamoille County Courthouse late Wednesday afternoon, said the pace of the investigation was stepped up after authorities received a phone call that Edgar had taken some pills. Authorities are not releasing what the pills were.
"Right now, he is our best suspect," Marcoux said.
Bachand said family members called for an ambulance around 6:30 Wednesday morning after Edgar had taken an overdose of pills.
Edgar was first taken to Copley Hospital in Morrisville after overdosing before being transferred to Fletcher Allen Health Care.
According to Marcoux, it was information from family members which led to the discovery of what they believe to be Jodie's body.
He would not say what had happened between Tuesday night and Wednesday which led him and other investigators to believe Edgar was involved in his wife's disappearance.
While Marcoux was holding a press conference late Wednesday afternoon about Edgar Whitney's apparent suicide attempt Wednesday morning, and the finding of a woman's body during the afternoon, Edgar was confessing to killing his wife, Bachand said.
Wednesday afternoon, according to Bachand, at 1:45, a search team of about 25 combed an area beyond the original 5-mile radius already searched. They found the body of a woman at 2:03 p.m. who Bachand said was believed to be that of Jodie. He said the body matched Jodie's description.
Marcoux said a positive identification is pending.
After the press conference Wednesday, Marcoux would not say exactly where the body was found. He also said more information about the cause of death will be available once an autopsy is conducted.
Both Marcoux and Bachand said they had not seen the body because once it was discovered, the crime scene was sealed off to everyone except for the Vermont State Police crime lab team.
The body, according to Bachand was found deep in the woods, a ways off "the beaten path."
Bachand said Medical Examiner Paul Morrow will be conducting the autopsy in Burlington this morning.
Marcoux said he did not know if Edgar had a criminal record. And when asked whether there was a history of domestic violence in the Whitneys' marriage, he would not comment.
However, later Wednesday, Bachand said there was a restraining order requested against Edgar Whitney last year but was withdrawn. He said the information is available in court records.
Edgar, he said, is still in the hospital. As of Wednesday night, charges had not been filed. Bachand said State Attorney Joel Page will decide what charges to file once the investigation is complete. An arraignment, if there is one, will take place at the Lamoille County Courthouse.
Prior to the discovery of the body, Edgar's overdose and his alleged confession, Marcoux and Bachand had set up a meeting for 10 a.m. Friday with New Hampshire State Police and FBI agents to discuss the disappearances of Jodie Whitney, Brianna Maitland and Maura Murray.
On Sunday, Marcoux said there wasn't any indication Jodie's disappearance was tied to the disappearances of 22-year-old University of Massachusetts at Amherst nursing student Murray and 17-year-old Maitland of Sheldon, Vt.
Although Marcoux and Bachand now do not believe there is any connection between the three cases, the meeting will still proceed at the Lamoille County Sheriff's Department office.
"We want to keep the other cases in the spotlight," Marcoux said. Bachand agreed. He said it is important to have everyone together talking about the cases.
Besides Bachand, also assisting Marcoux and his department with the Whitney investigation are Sgt. Tim Clouatre and Detective Bob Cushing, both from the St. Johnsbury area.