Investigators seek ‘useful’ source after homicide

Sheriff's office continues search for car, acquaintance

The death of a hip-hop artist found Sunday in a field in rural Douglas County has been ruled a homicide, and investigators Tuesday asked for the public’s help in finding a Lawrence man who’s wanted for questioning.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday it was looking for Major C. Edwards Jr., 27, and that he may have information about what happened to Anthony J. Vital, 28. But the sheriff’s office was not labeling Edwards as a suspect.

“It is believed that Mr. Edwards may have information useful to this investigation,” Lt. Kari Wempe, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Vital, a member of the local hip-hop group “Da BombSquad” who went by the stage name “Clacc,” was found around 9 a.m. Sunday by a man who was leaving his property along U.S. Highway 40 about two miles west of Lawrence. The sheriff’s office initially said it was a “suspicious death” and confirmed Tuesday that it was a homicide.

The sheriff’s office has not released details of the case, including how Vital died or what investigators think he was doing the previous night. Another unanswered question is whether Vital died where his body was found or was transported there.

Friends and family members of Vital have said they don’t know what happened to him. Richard Thomas, a member of Vital’s hip-hop group, said he’d been told that Edwards and Vital went out together Saturday night.

“They were associates at the most. : I really don’t know (Edwards) much,” Thomas said.

According to court records, Edwards listed his occupation in late 2005 as being in the music business – both writing and recording.

“That was the small talk (from Edwards) – ‘Yeah, I’m in the studio, I’m gonna start me a record label’ – but everybody in the country is saying that,” Thomas said.

Edwards, who has a conviction for sale of cocaine, is well-known in local law enforcement circles. In 2005, he was found not guilty at trial of aggravated burglary, kidnapping, intimidation of a witness and battery.

He has three separate battery cases pending in District Court.

The sheriff’s office Tuesday again asked for the public’s help with information about a 1988 maroon Ford Thunderbird that may be associated with Vital’s death. The vehicle has the personalized license plate “JVOLA.”

But the sheriff so far has not gone into detail about the significance of the vehicle or announced publicly who the registered owner is.

Anyone with information about the vehicle or about Edwards’ whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff at 841-0007 or the CrimeStoppers hot line at 843-TIPS.