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Governor signs execution warrant for convicted child-killer

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Stephen Rex Edmiston, pic from Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown

Governor Tom Corbett today signed an execution warrant for Stephen Rex Edmiston, who was convicted of First Degree Murder for the malicious and gruesome murder of two-year-old Bobbi Jo Matthew in October of 1988.

Edmiston is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Greene and his execution has been scheduled for April 16, 2014.  The execution warrant signed today for Edmiston was Governor Corbett’s 31st warrant signed since taking office.

Executions in Pennsylvania are carried out by lethal injection. For more information, visit the Department of Corrections online at and select “Death Penalty’’ from the left-side navigation bar.

Case Background: 

Edmiston, now 55, was sentenced to death in November 1989 by a jury in the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division of Cambria County.

On the night of October 4, 1988 in Clearfield County, two-year-old Bobbi Jo Matthew went to bed in the home she lived in with her father, Harold Matthew, her grandmother, Nancy Dotts, as well as several other children.  At approximately 3:30 a.m., Harold Matthew, who was sleeping on the couch, was awakened by a man with a beard, wearing a baseball cap.  The man apologized for waking him and the two men had a brief exchange until Matthew went back to sleep.

Moments later, two of the children noticed a man with the same description enter their bedroom, walk over to where Bobbi Jo was sleeping and talk to her.  He left the room, returned shortly thereafter, whispered something to Bobbi Jo and then left the room again.  Several minutes later, a vehicle was seen leaving the area of the home.

At approximately 5:30 a.m. on October 5, 1988, Nancy Dotts returned home and went to the children’s room to check on them but did not see Bobbi Jo.  Upon awakening Harold Matthew and the children, they all described the man in the home earlier with a beard, wearing a baseball cap, as a man fitting the description of who Dotts knew to be Edmiston, the nephew of Dotts’ boyfriend.

Police were able to track Edmiston down and arranged an interview with him.  A consensual search of his pickup truck revealed blood on the seatbelt receptacle on the driver’s side, blood in the middle of the bench seat, a blood-stained towel, bloody scissors and a pair of purple shorts that matched the description of the ones Bobbi Jo was wearing at the time of her disappearance.

Edmiston eventually confessed to police that he took Bobbi Jo and drew a map of an area in Cambria County where he took her. He drew an X at an exact location on the map; when asked by police what they would specifically find when they arrived at that location, Edmiston told them they would find “a dead, raped little girl.”  Edmiston admitted to raping the child in his truck and then hitting her with his fist four or five times until she stopped moving.

Police recovered the body of Bobbi Jo Matthew at the location specified on the map provided by Edmiston.  Her body suffered serious injuries of scalping, blunt force to her torso, obliteration of her genital area, burning of her body, and a skull fracture.  Evidence indicated that many of the injuries suffered had occurred while the child was still alive.


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