Unfinished Business

The Murder of Stephen Edenfield

Episode Summary

A man discovers his brother was brutally murdered in his apartment. A security guard at the complex witnessed someone with the victim the night of the murder, which occurred February 1, 1997. Who killed 41-year-old Stephen Edenfield remains a mystery.

Episode Transcription

James Edenfield, Brother: “I pulled the covers back and I knew he was gone.”










Amanda Granit, Host:  Tell me a little bit about your career. You're newer to HCSO, but not new to law enforcement.


Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office:


Correct. So I did... I started out with Monroe County Sheriff's Department in Rochester, New York. I did three years as road patrol deputy there. I went over to Rochester Police Department and I did another 22 years with Rochester police. My last 10 years on the job at Rochester Police Department was in the homicide investigation section. I did... early on, back in, I think around 2000, I did a bunch of cold cases, many of which came to fruition around between 2005, 2007. So I had good background in cold case investigations as well as just regular homicides. I retired from Rochester Police Department in 2008, and I started with the Monroe County District Attorney's Office in 2012.

Amanda Granit, Host:

In your experience, what does it take for a cold case to be solved?


Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office:


I just think that you have to go through each one of the case files and you have to be very meticulous in reading every single detail. I think that you have to find, first, I would say any evidence that might be of value, such as DNA, fingerprints, things of that nature. If you find that kind of evidence, if it hasn't been tested, then it needs to be tested. And I think the next thing that needs to be done is people need to be re-interviewed.

 This case, for example, I mean, there's probably four or five people that were originally interviewed in the case. I mean, three are deceased now, so it makes it kind of tough because as time goes on and the years pass, I mean, sometimes we lose some of our most valuable people in these cases and it's tough. It makes it more difficult. I would say though, when you have good physical evidence, that's certainly helpful, right?





Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office:

At the time, he lived at 5820 Church Ave North, which is the Racquet Club Condominium. That day, or I should say earlier that morning, to start the day off was, I think it was pretty ordinary day for him, and he met a friend of his named Woody Favors, and he had breakfast with him.


Steven Edenfield told him that he was dating Carlos again. Woody Favors asked the victim who Carlos was, and the victim tells him that he had met him at a party before, but you may not know him as Carlos. The victim didn't tell Favors the man's real name, and Favors didn't go on and say, "Well, who are you talking about? And what's he look like?" or anything like that. According to Favors, the conversation ends right there.


Amanda Granit, Host:

And Steven was private, so it's not unusual that his friend didn't push him on these details.


Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator: Yeah. I feel like if you read the deposition and the information that he gives, it's almost like he didn't want to pry. So that evening, Steven Edenfield went back to his apartment and his mom, brother, and sister all live in the same apartment complex at the racquet club. At around 7:30 at night, he had dinner with them in the mom's apartment. At 9:30, they broke up, and he told his brother that he was going to go out and have a couple of drinks, but that he would be back in the morning to take care of his mom. His mom was pretty much an invalid at the time and they pretty much share the responsibilities of taking care of her. And she needed 24 seven care. So the brother, James, and the sister, Debra, both worked. Steven lived in the same complex, so when they couldn't take care of her, they would... he would go over there and help out.


The next morning, the brother goes into work at his normal time, about 7:00 AM. And he expects that as brother, Steven, is going to go over and take care of mom. At around 8:30, nine o'clock in the morning, James gets a call from his mother saying that Steven never showed up, which was very unusual. I mean, he was the kind of guy that said if I'm going to be at mom's to take care of her, I'm going to be there. Right? Or he would be there. So James gets his phone and he starts to call his brother. He's pretty much, keeps dialing and dialing, and he's not picking up.


So he decides to leave work. This is around 10:00 AM. He goes to Steven's apartment. When he pulls in, he notices that his car is still there, parked in the normal spot. He goes upstairs. He shakes the handle on the apartment door and the doors open. It's not locked. James walks into the apartment and he looks around and it's very unusual that there's broken furniture on the floor and some other broken items, things like that. He calls out for his brother, his brother doesn't answer, and he goes right into the bedroom. It's very dark in there. The curtains are drawn and it's kind of just a really dark bedroom. He calls out his brother's name. There's no response. He could see that he's in the bed. James says that he pulls back the sheet and he shakes him and there's no movement. And as his eyes focus, he realizes that there's some blood in the room, on the wall, on the bad, on the sheets. Pretty much panics at that point. And he checks his brother for pulse and he finds out he's not breathing, and he's extremely cold. At that point, James runs down to the superintendent's office, and by his own words, he's so shaken that he has to have them call nine one one.

James Edenfield, Brother:



Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator:

I'm sure. I mean, they were so close. You know, I talked to his brother the other day and it's just... they had this bond and this relationship, even though he says that Steven was very guarded and private about his personal life. They had a, like I said, an extremely close relationship between the two of them.

Amanda Granit, Host:

As the investigation went on, did anybody see anyone who may have been visiting this individual?

Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator:

So the night before, I told you that Steven went out for some drinks. He told his brother that about 9:30, that he was going out. At about 10 to 12, the security guard, whose name is Ricardo Orta sees Steven Edenfield pull up in his Nissan sedan. And Steven says that, "I think I forgot my pager in the apartment. Can you let me in? Can you let me through the gate?" So Ortarecognizes him and says, "Yeah, no problem." So he opens the gate, and before Steven drives off, he says, "and the guy behind me is okay too, just let him in." So Orta looks back, he sees there's a dark colored sedan. He doesn't know the make or model, anything like that. He did not get a plate number at the time, but Edenfield tells him that the person behind him is okay and just let him through. So Edenfield drives into the complex, the man behind him in the vehicle... in the dark colored vehicle, follows him in. Orta gets a look at him, not a great look, but he says, it's a male, white, and he has dark hair, darker black hair. And then they proceed through the gate and he doesn't think anything of it.


Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator:

Orta checks the parking lots and closes everything up at about 2:00 AM. At about 1:50 AM, he goes on his nightly rounds. So as he's walking through the parking lot, he hears something up on the second floor balcony, which is around apartment 208 where he lives. And as he looks up, he sees a white male on the balcony, but he's trying to hide behind the railing and he's walking along the railing towards the stairwell. It's an enclosed stairwell that's in the building. He loses the man in the stairwell. He continues to walk and then he sees the vehicle that was following Edenfield in earlier back out of the parking spot and leaves and goes out the gate.


And again, at that time he didn't get a plate number or anything like that. So he doesn't think anything of it until the next day when Mr. Edenfield is found and the police come and talk to him. There's also a woman named Mildred Corbett  who lives in the apartment directly below Mr. Edenfield. And she says at about 1:00 in the morning, she hears what might be an argument or fighting in the apartment above her, and she hears some furniture breaking. And then she said, "It goes quiet." So she doesn't think anything of it. She doesn't call 911 or anything like that and she goes back to sleep.

Amanda Granit, Host:

Do you believe that that person is connected to this murder?

Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator:


I do. I do. I think that there's a short... I told you I'm big into timelines and I think that the timeline fits between the time he goes in and it's 10 to 12:00. 1:00 in the morning, Miss Corbett hears a struggler fighting upstairs. And by 1:50, there's a person who's described as a male that gets into the same car that followed Edenfield in earlier. So yes, I believe that that person is definitely involved in this.


Amanda Granit, Host:Do we know where he got drinks that night?

Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator:

There was a bar that he went to. The bartender was spoken to and he was with no one that night at the bar. He was alone. He sat at the bar alone and he left alone. So it must've been somebody that perhaps he met or arranged something with prior to, or met somebody afterwards at another location.



Amanda Granit, HostThere are some photos that we're going to push out with this podcast that you'd like people to take close look at. What do those photos show and why are they important?

Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator:

So on the victim's body, there were several pieces of jewelry, but there was one item missing and that item was discovered by the brother, James. And that was an ID type bracelet, the old ID type bracelets, but this one was a little bit different. It was a custom made bracelet. He said that he had a matching one with his name on it. So this bracelet that's missing says Steven across the top of it or on the face of it. It has a double chain on each side and a double clasp underneath. And it's solid gold.


James Edenfield said that his mother had the bracelets made for him and his brother before she passed away. So that item is missing for sure. Who knows? I mean, it's 22 years later. I don't know if that still exists or not, but that's something that, even if somebody saw that bracelet. I mean, you could definitely tell it's a custom made bracelet and it says the name Steven on it. So I think that's very important.


The other thing is there's several photos in the case file of friends of Steven Edenfield. Most of those photos were given to me by his brother, James. And there were associates of Steven Edenfield at the time. Now, Steven Edenfield was an openly gay man. He was very private about his life. But my feeling is when I look at the pictures, it's these were people that were

in his life quite a lot. There's pictures of they're at the park and they're maybe at Disney, but it's some of the same people are in the pictures. I'm not sure if those people were interviewed at the time, but I would like to have them identified so that we can go out. Friends tell friends things. Maybe they know the name of the person that he was dating or persons that he was dating. I think it's important that these people be interviewed. I know it's a long time and 22 years has passed, but I think it's important that everyone that might have information is interviewed on this case.

Amanda Granit, Host:

Because back when the case originally happened and investigators were working at this boyfriend who may go by Carlos was never officially identified.

Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator:

No. I think they pursued. I would say government names of people named Carlos. I don't know. I don't even want to put a name out there because... But they pursued government names of Carlos, but I'm thinking based on the statement that Mr. Edenfield made to Favors


"You may not know him as Carlos." So he had met him at a party. You may not know him as Carlos. So is Carlos a nickname? Carlos may not be his government name. It might just be a nickname. I think that because Mr. Edenfield was, like I said, active in the LGBTQ community, he frequented gay bars in Tampa, that somebody may know a person either with the government name of Carlos or the nickname of Carlos, which might help our investigation.

Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator:

And even if they don't have that matching nickname or full name of Carlos, if they just knew who he hung around with and knew some of those people who might be able to then help get closer to the people who were in his inner circle and who he may have been hanging out with that night.

Joseph Dominick, Special Investigator:

Of course. Here's the thing, Mr. Edenfield was so private that it was hard to get that information from his family members and the people that were originally interviewed. Again, I think these other people would be super important. I mean the person Carlos may not be involved, but let's find out. And the only way we can do that is to talk to people that he knew at the time and may have intimate knowledge of his comings and goings [inaudible 00:06:36].


James Edenfield, Brother:

< He would help anybody he thought he could help. We still can't understand why it happened the way it happened.>

If you have any information on this case, or any others that are being investigated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, please call 813-247-8200. Be sure to follow us on social media at @HCSOSheriff for any updates we have on this case in the future.