The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 3, 2010

Police search Joplin business, two homes in probe of serial killings

JOPLIN, Mo. — FBI agents and Albuquerque, N.M., police searched multiple properties owned by a Joplin man Tuesday in connection with an investigation into the remains of 11 women and teenagers and an unborn child discovered last year in Albuquerque.

Authorities searched at least three Joplin buildings that Jasper County records indicate are owned by Ron Erwin.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Erwin declined to comment about the searches.

“I can’t say anything at this point,” he said.

FBI agents and officers from what is known as the Albuquerque Police Department’s 118th Street Task Force searched Erwin’s photography business at 411 S. Main St. The task force was named because the bodies were found by authorities on a mesa adjacent to 118th Street in Albuquerque.

Officers, some clad in white jumpsuits, also searched a residence at 414 W. 26th St., and other officers searched a residence at 2518 S. Ohio Ave. Records indicate both homes are owned by Erwin.

Erwin also operates a health food store, Fox Farm Whole Food, 2639 E. 32nd St. On Tuesday morning, a Joplin officer was stationed outside the store and would say only that the business was closed and was expected to remain closed the rest of the day.

Albuquerque police spokeswoman Nadine Hamby acknowledged that sealed search warrants were executed Tuesday in Joplin, but she would not comment on the details. She also said no one was in custody.

Detective Tod Babcock, with the 118th Street Task Force, wearing a vest that said “Police, Violent Crimes,” told a Globe reporter Tuesday outside the photography studio on Main Street that Erwin is a “person of interest,” but he added that the Joplin man is only “one of many.”

Hamby later denied that the detective specifically named Erwin.

“We have never named anyone in the 118th Street (case),” Hamby said.

A phone message left for Erwin’s mother, Beulah Erwin, was not returned Tuesday.

Beulah Erwin told The Associated Press that her son used to regularly travel to Albuquerque for annual events, but that he had not done so for at least six years.

“It doesn’t make any sense why they would focus on him,” she said. “That’s the silliest thing I ever heard of.”

Neighbors who live near Ron Erwin’s home at 2518 S. Ohio Ave. said they last saw him at the property Sunday.

At Erwin’s photography studio, a large, unmarked trailer was parked, blocking one lane of northbound traffic for a while Tuesday.

Remains found

The remains of the 11 women and teenagers and an unborn child were found in February 2009 after a woman spotted a large bone protruding from an earthen trail while she was walking her dog on Albuquerque’s west side.

Authorities have said nearly all the victims worked as prostitutes before they disappeared between 2003 and early 2005.

Albuquerque police Chief Ray Schultz had previously said that his department was investigating men who hired prostitutes and were prone to violence, according to The Associated Press.

Hamby said it did not appear that any of the victims had ties to the Joplin area, although she cautioned that they “lived a transient lifestyle.” Ten of the victims were born and raised in Albuquerque, while one of them, Syllannia Edwards, was from Oklahoma. Law enforcement personnel in Lawton, Okla., had classified her as an endangered runaway and reported her missing in 2003, according to the Albuquerque Police Department website.

Chris Hall, with the Lawton Police Department, said Edwards ran away from a juvenile lockup in Lawton, and he was assigned to investigate her disappearance. He said he was not aware of any connection between her and Joplin.

Erwin also previously owned The Book Barn, which was at 32nd and Main Streets, and Eccentrix, 2609 E. Seventh St. The latter store dealt in books, vintage clothing, music, movies and collectibles, and closed last month. At one time, Erwin owned stores in Springfield; Springdale, Ark.; and Tulsa and Bartlesville in Oklahoma.

Erwin said Eccentrix closed because it was no longer needed in the area with the ascent of online sites such as Amazon and eBay, and the popularity of digital books.

Metro Editor Andy Ostmeyer, Assistant Metro Editor Derek Spellman, staff writers Emily Younker, Roger McKinney and Greg Grisolano, and Alexandra Nicolas contributed to this report.



Reward

The Albuquerque Police Department website states that a reward of up to $100,000 is being offered for information about the victims and potential suspects. The case also was featured on the television series “America’s Most Wanted.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • State audit of Joplin School District begins

    Staff members from the state auditor’s office have begun their audit of the Joplin School District, Superintendent C.J. Huff said Monday. They are expected to be in the district four days per week for the next five to six months, or perhaps longer, until the audit is complete, Huff said.

    July 21, 2014

  • Burglary conviction draws shock prison time

    A Joplin man who received 120 days of shock incarceration time Friday in a drunken-driving case in Jasper County Circuit Court was assessed a concurrent sentence Monday in a burglary case.

    July 21, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Family gatherings mirror circle of life

    The annual family gathering is getting bigger. There tends to be an ebb and a flow to most family gatherings. When you’re a kid, and especially if you’re a kid from a large Catholic family, the gatherings seem to be huge.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carthage man pleads guilty in sexual abuse case

    A Carthage man pleaded guilty Monday to sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl in a plea agreement that would cap the length of his prison term at no more than 15 years.

    July 21, 2014

  • Main Street TIF district study to begin

    A measure that allows the city to charge its $15,000 in administrative costs for studying a proposal to create a tax increment financing district on South Main Street was approved Monday by the Joplin City Council.

    July 21, 2014

  • 071714 Jasper Cty Dispatch1_72.jpg Area communities, Jasper County work to improve communications

    The first law enforcement officer to respond to a fatal shooting last November at Northpark Mall was from the Duquesne Police Department — not Joplin. Joplin police Chief Jason Burns said he wasn’t bothered by that. “We dispatch for them, and they had an officer close who could get there faster,” he said. “And getting help to people as quickly as possible is more important than jurisdictions.”

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • New and old TIF districts on agenda for Joplin council

    Another tax increment financing district is being proposed for Joplin, this one along South Main Street. The area is close to the new Mercy Hospital Joplin that is set to open next year. RKS Development is seeking authorization from the Joplin City Council when it meets Monday night to prepare a request to establish a TIF district.

    July 20, 2014

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Family grows by one — a black Lab named Raven

    If you haven’t experienced the feeling of a tiny puppy in your lap at the end of a perfect July Saturday — hammock time, s’mores, leisurely walks, you know the kind — I highly recommend it. It is pure joy.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042017 Jo Ellis_c.jpg Jo Ellis: Car show, sidewalk sale and more scheduled for weekend in Carthage

    All roads leading to Carthage should be packed this weekend as numerous events geared toward entertainment, cultural pursuits and bargain hunting are expected to pull in large crowds.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Hobby Lobby lawyer to speak at watermelon feed

    Josh Hawley, who helped represent Hobby Lobby in arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on contraception requirements in the Affordable Care Act, has been added to the list of speakers for Thursday’s annual watermelon feed sponsored by Newton County Republicans.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Do you think Missouri should pass legislation that would allow a prescription drug database to be kept?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter