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Edward T. JAMES





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Child molester - Necrophilia
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: September 19, 1993
Date of arrest: October 6, 1993
Date of birth: August 4, 1961
Victims profile: Toni Neuner, eight year old girl, and her grandmother, Betty Dick
Method of murder: Strangulation / Stabbing with knife
Location: Seminole County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on August 18, 1995

Florida Supreme Court

opinion 86834 opinion SC06-426

DC #   969121

Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, Seminole County Case # 93-3237
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Alan A. Dickey
Trial Attorneys: Gary Anderson and James Figgatt – Assistant Public Defenders
Attorneys, Direct Appeal: Michael S. Becker – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Pro Se

Date of Offense: 09/19/93

Date of Sentence: 08/18/95

Circumstances of the Offense:

Edward James attended a party on the evening of September 19, 1993, at Todd Van Fossen’s house.  James lived approximately two blocks away in a room he rented from victim, Betty Dick. 

James was at the Van Fossen residence from approximately 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.  Van Fossen’s girlfriend, Tina, reported that James appeared to be intoxicated, but James declined to sleep at her residence when she offered. 

James consumed between six and 24 beers, in addition to three “shotguns” (three beers funneled one after another).  James ran into Jere Pearson shortly after leaving the party.  Pearson’s residence was near the party, and he was returning from a convenience store. 

Pearson testified that when he ran into James, James was en route to the residence of the victim’s son, Tim Dick.  Pearson and James conversed for about ten minutes, and Pearson witnessed James take ten hits of acid, but said that James appeared to be sober.

James briefly visited with Tom Dick and his girlfriend, Nichole, but returned to his room at Betty Dick’s house after drinking some gin.  James noticed, upon entering the house that Betty Dick’s four grandchildren were sleeping in the living room. 

Wendi, one of the grandchildren, briefly awoke when James entered the house.  Wendi said that James appeared drunk and was laughing.  James made himself something to eat in the kitchen and then went to his room. 

Later, he went back to the living room and grabbed eight-year-old Toni Neuner around the neck.  James strangled Toni and claimed he heard the bones pop in her neck.  James assumed that Toni was dead, and he proceeded to have both vaginal and anal intercourse with her after removing her clothing in his bedroom.  Toni did not resist or scream, and James threw Toni behind his bed after the rape.

James entered Betty Dick’s room with the intention of having sexual intercourse with her.  James then hit the back of Betty’s head with a candlestick and Betty woke up screaming. 

Betty’s screams woke Wendi Neuner who came to the doorway of her grandmother’s bedroom where she witnessed James using a small knife to stab Betty.  James saw Wendi and he grabbed her and tied her up before putting her in the bathroom. 

James did not think that Betty was dead, so he went to the kitchen to get a butcher knife and returned with the knife to stab Betty in the back.  James took off the bottoms of Betty’s pajamas, but did not sexually batter her.

James took a shower, with Wendi still in the bathroom, to remove the blood that covered him.  James then gathered some belongings and clothes from his room and took Betty’s purse and jewelry bag from her room.  James got in Betty’s car and drove across the country, stopping occasionally to sell some of Betty’s jewelry.  James was arrested in Bakersfield, California, on October 6, 1993, and he then gave two confessions that were videotaped.

The autopsy that was performed on Toni revealed that she died as a result of strangulation, but was still alive at the time of the rape.  The expert could not determine whether or not Toni was conscious while she was being raped. Betty was stabbed 21 times and died as a result of massive blood loss within a few minutes of the attack.

Experts opined that James suffers from drug and alcohol dependency and a psychiatrist determined that James has an addictive personality or a passive aggressive personality.  James could not remember if he had taken LSD prior to committing the offenses, but an expert testified that the ingestion of LSD could unmask an underlying psychological problem.

Additional Information:

James was also tried and convicted of the following crimes (Case # 93-3499):

      Date                                      Offense                                       Sentence Date      Sentence


Armed Burglary


3 Years


Grand Theft Firearm


3 Years


Grand Theft Firearm


3 Years


Grand Theft Firearm


3 Years


Sexual Battery By Adult on Victim Under 12




Sexual Battery By Adult on Victim Under 12



Trial Summary:

10/19/93          Defendant indicted with the following:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder

Count II:          First-Degree Murder

Count III:         Aggravated Child Abuse

Count IV:          Attempted Sexual Battery/Threatened with a Deadly Weapon

Count V:           Kidnapping During the Commission of a Felony

Count VI:         Grand Theft

Count VII:        Grand Theft Auto

04/05/95          Defendant pled guilty to all counts

06/05/95          The jury recommended Death by a vote of 11 to 1 for Counts I and II

08/18/95          Defendant was sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

Count II:          First-Degree Murder – Death

Count III:         Aggravated Child Abuse – 15 years

Count IV:          Attempted Sexual Battery/Threatened with a Deadly Weapon – 15 years

Count V:           Kidnapping During the Commission of a Felony – Life sentence

Count VI:         Grand Theft – 5 years

Count VII:        Grand Theft Auto – 5 years

Case Information:

A Direct Appeal was filed on 11/09/95. Issues that were raised included whether the trial court erred in failing to grant James’ motion for mistrial based on the prosecutor’s improper comments during closing argument and whether the trial court erred in finding the heinous, atrocious, or cruel aggravator as to the murder of Toni Neuner. 

The Florida Supreme Court found all of these claims either without merit or harmless and affirmed the conviction and sentence of death on 04/24/97.

A Petition for Writ of Certiorari was filed with the United States Supreme Court on 09/18/97 and denied on 12/01/97.

A 3.850 Motion was filed with the circuit court on 05/27/98 and amended on 03/08/02.  On 04/11/03, James filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal and a Faretta hearing was held.  On 04/21/03, the Circuit Court dismissed postconviction counsel and the 3.850 Motion.


Eddie James, also known as Edward James, Edward T. James, or Edward Matlack was described as having the most violent, leering face shown on America's Most Wanted.

Eddie James was convicted of killing, after he strangled and raped an eight year old girl, Toni Neuner, and stabbed her grandmother, Betty Dick, to death. All of this after being a close friend and invited to stay at Betty Dick's home.

Eddie talked about going into business with his friend, Tim Dick, but their business fell apart after Eddie dedicated his time to doing drugs, specifically crack, angel dust, and later LSD. Not only did he do these drugs regularly, he also was a heavy alcoholic. At the time, Tim Dick was living at his mother Betty's house.

During the summer of 1993, Eddie James, joined his friend, Tim Dick, in all of Tim's family festivities, including summer BBQs. Eddie was always invited by the big family. Betty Dick, the matriarch, had moved to Casselberry, FL after her husband died. Betty, always had her grandchildren bustling about. But Betty was the center of it all. She loved her grandkids, and kept her children close.

Two of the granddaughters were particularly close. Wendi Neuner and her sister Toni Neuner. Their mother, Lisa Neuner, was always able to count on Grandma Betty to help with the kids. Betty didn't mind. She had an open heart and a generous spirit, but perhaps too open, for she graciously accepted Eddie as part of the family.

Eddie was a sort of uncle to the kids, and especially to Toni. Eddie had a great sense of humour and always knew how to make the kids laugh. He was a clown and he loved to be the center of attention.

At this point, Eddie had taken to petty crime. He had a litany of assults. He was charged for theft and shot a man, but this offense was later determined to be an act of self defense. But to Betty and her clan, he was family. Tim Dick eventually moved next door to live with his girlfriend, which meant there was a room empty, and when Betty discovered Eddie didn't have a place to live, he was taken in.

On September 19, 1993, Eddie was out of work and he focused his energies on taking drugs. He became intoxicated at his friend's birthday party, and then headed home around 11 P.M. Lisa Neuner's children, Toni and Wendi and her two boys were asleep in the living room. Lisa Neuner was away and Grandma Betty was watching the children.

Eddie James was angry that Lisa had left her children with Betty, thinking that Betty was being taken advantage of. He was so completely enranged that he picked up the closest of the two little girls, Toni, and strangled her until her neck bones popped. He shouted, "Die, you little bitch."

Afterward, seeing he had killed her, decided he might as well has his way with her, and preceded to take her into the bedroom and rape her. Later it was discovered that she didn't die until after she was raped. Her body was mangled and torn, her hands clutching her vagina.

Eddie, still intoxicated and enraged, went into Betty Dick's room "to get me a grown woman." He hit her with a candlestick and preceded to stab her with a kitchen knife, while she screamed, "Why, Eddie, why?" But after she was too bloody for him to have continued sexual interest, he stabbed her twenty-two times.

Little 9 year old Wendi heard the screams and saw Eddie stabbing through the doorway. After Eddie had left Betty motionless and dead, he saw Wendi and came after her. He grabbed her violently and tied her up and left the scene. Wendi eventually escaped and ran over to her Uncle Tim's place and soon all the bodies were discovered.

Eddie James had hit the road, but wasn't a fugitive very long. America's Most Wanted television show documented the case and soon there were leads of him selling Grandma Betty's jewelry in pawn shops in Colorado. He was finally caught at Bakersfield, CA on October 6th, 1993, at a state employment office. This, thanks to Priscilla Valdez, who after watching America's Most Wanted, recognized him and called the hotline.

Eddie James, after being arrested, confessed in detail his crime, and was sentented to the death penalty.

Contributor's Note: This is a summary of an account by John Walsh, in his book, "No Mercy." Please refer to this for a more exclusive and detailed account.


Edward T. James



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