Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Part 2

Decades after he molested students in nearby Prospect Park, Edgar Friedrichs Jr. continued his crimes in West Virginia.

By Aina Hunter
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Sep. 29, 2004

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Barber had accomplished his goal of putting Friedrichs, now 62 years old, behind bars for the rest of his life, but had since come to believe that justice wouldn't be served till Friedrichs stood trial for murder.

He wasn't alone.

West Virginia state police trooper Robert Workman, one of the officers who helped get Friedrichs indicted for molestation, had also come to believe there were serious problems with the original investigation of Jeremy Bell's death.

Workman drove to the Fayetteville sheriff's office, where detective cpl. Jack Brown had something to show him: the flattened-out box stamped with the poison symbol. Discovered the morning of Jeremy's death, it was still sitting in the evidence locker.

Upon examining the box, Workman noticed the plastic seal protecting the purchase order had never been opened. He pulled out the slip of paper and discovered the box had contained a gallon of chloroform. He called the chemical company, and was told that it had been purchased with a personal check from Edgar Friedrichs.

If Friedrichs had used chloroform on Jeremy, he thought, why didn't it show up in the toxicology report?

Workman and the deputy learned the lab hadn't thought to test for anything as exotic as chloroform.

Luckily, the sheets that Jeremy had thrown up on had been saved. A Pennsylvania lab tested the vomit for chloroform. It tested positive.

In May 2003, nearly five years after Jeremy's death, Friedrichs was indicted for first-degree murder. Roy Bell filed the necessary paperwork, with Barber's help.

Though West Virginia state police give Barber credit for moving the case forward, assistant district attorney Tom Steele, speaking for the prosecutor's office, cautions against overstating the private investigator's role.

"We had never really closed [the investigation] in the first place," he tells PW. "We couldn't indict [Friedrichs] at the time because there wasn't enough evidence. We were going to get him eventually."

Friedrichs' murder trial has been postponed four times. A new trial date has not yet been set.

 

Staff writer Aina Hunter (ahunter@philadelphiaweekly.com) wrote last week's cover story, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Part 1."

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1. Anonymous said... on Feb 11, 2011 at 03:44PM

“I have a comment: He is a pig and should pay more than what he received. He taught me @ Prospect Park Elementary and back then four of us turned him in, and nothing was done back then. What is this world coming to. He was head of the Safety program at Prospect Park Elementary & I always remember him being nasty to the girls and all sweet with the boys. I cannot believe he was referred by Mr. Castle, he was another whack job. I remember this, I am 49 year's old now, and that was in 5th grade. If I could write a letter to him in prison I would tell him exactly what he is. So there are my thoughts on a piece of crap.”

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