by Adam Ghassemi
HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. – It's something she never thought would happen, but after 29 years one mid-state woman finally knows the name of the man police said kidnapped and raped her as a child.
Hendersonville Police announced an arrest in the cold case Wednesday.
"I was barely 12. Just had barely turned 12 years old,” the victim told NewsChannel 5 speaking under the condition of anonymity.
She’s lived with the ordeal for nearly 30 years. Around 1 a.m. on March 31, 1985, a stranger broke into her family’s Shivel Lane home while everyone was sleeping. The intruder made his way into a bedroom where the victim and her sister were sleeping.
"He actually came to my sister first, and then he came to me,” she said.
She remembers getting woken up and being groggy as her attacker brazenly kidnapped her as her sister started to realize he was there.
"She grabs a hold of him. He turns and pushes her back and then my brother is coming down the steps and then he carries me on out of the house and puts me in his vehicle and drives away,” she said.
Hendersonville Police said that man was 50-year-old Lane Edwards who was just 21 at the time. They said Edwards drove his victim to a secluded area off Center Point Road where he raped her.
"He did things that even a 12 year old girl should know nothing about,” she said.
After it was over she said Edwards simply left her on the side of the road.
"He opened the car door and shoved me out on the side of the road and took off,” she said. "I was terrified.”
She ran to a nearby home where someone took her in and called police.
For years, police had no idea who did it. Edwards wasn't even a suspect until detectives decided to reopen the case and submit the evidence for DNA testing.
“Once we discovered that the evidence was still intact and it appeared to have been secured properly then that evidence was taken directly to the TBI lab,” said Detective Sgt. Jim Vaughn.
Paul Harbsmeier was the detective back then and has worried about this loose end of his career for decades.
"Was there anything else you could have done? Or was there anything else that was missed? It just weighs on you,” he said Wednesday.
Edwards is currently serving time in a Bledsoe County state prison for aggravated rape and 1st degree murder. Now, he also faces 20-years to life for aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape in this case.
“DNA technology has saved us as far as this crime is concerned because if it were not for the DNA technology we never would have solved this crime. Because this person was not even a suspect at any time until the TBI told us that we had a hit,” said Sumner County District Attorney General Ray Whitley.
The woman told NewsChannel 5 she has relied on her faith, and family all this time and is so happy police never gave up. She hopes other cold case victims never lose hope modern technology and police persistence could bring criminals to justice.
"Never give up hope because even 29 years later it can be solved, it can be done and you can begin and continue healing,” she said.
This arrest is the latest in Hendersonville Police Chief Mickey Miller's goal of solving all of the city's cold cases, often with DNA testing that didn't exist years ago.
“We don’t ever quit. That you may think you’ve gotten away with it, but we’re going to continue to peruse those investigations,” Miller said at Wednesday’s news conference.
Edwards will appear in Sumner County Criminal Court in two weeks. His victim will one day have to testify about the attack.