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Deputy to receive national honor

HARRISONBURG — When Catahoula Parish Sheriff James Kelly first saw the remains of 12-year-old Lexis Kaye Roberts in the woods outside of Harrisonburg Oct. 8, he knew they were the bones of a teenage girl.

It was that detail that helped Kelly make a decision to put a deputy on the case he knew would be affected by the magnitude and seriousness of the crime.

“I knew (Deputy Toney Edwards) had a daughter about that age,” he said. “That night out in the woods when I assigned the case, I gave it to Toney because I felt like he would put his heart and soul into it.”

Kelly’s decision was a good one. After just more than a month of piecing together the case, Edwards and the CPSO, along with the FBI, found Thomas Steven Sanders, the man allegedly responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Roberts.

For all his hard work on the case, Edwards will be honored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children May 18 in Washington, D.C, in recognition of his investigative work on the kidnapping and murder of Roberts.

“It is a great honor, especially for a small department like ours,” he said. “I am not blowing my own whistle, we had officers all over helping. The credit goes out to so many more people other than me.”

Edwards said when he was first assigned the case he knew he had to do whatever he could to find the person responsible.

“The whole thing became real personal to me when we knew for certain it was a young child,” he said. “I have kids of my own, and so do my friends. If there was someone around here doing that to children we needed to take it personal enough to get them off the street.”

Kelly said it was the ability of all the agencies involved in the case working together that helped get the quick results.

“It is a proud feeling to work with all these agencies and to get good results,” he said. “That is the ultimate goal. That it was done, and it was done in cooperation. The system worked like it should.”

Edwards said he even had close friends and relatives who weren’t officers that would help him with the case.

“Something like that you don’t get very often,” he said. “Everyone got real involved emotionally, and we came together to figure this out.”

Edwards said he is looking forward to his trip to Washington and that he wishes everyone involved in the case could come with him.

“The credit goes to all my family and my close friends and my fellow officers that worked with me,” he said.

“I could not have done it without them.”

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