MILWAUKEE – The man who led police to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer two decades ago was sentenced Monday to a year and a half behind bars for his role in the drowning death of a homeless man.
Tracy Edwards' attorney argued that the Dahmer encounter had a profound impact on his client, who has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, and that the remorse he felt over the death last summer of Johnny Jordan just added to his pain.
"He's going to have another ghost to haunt him all his life," lawyer Paul Ksicinski told the judge Monday.
A criminal complaint accuses Edwards and Timothy Carr of throwing Jordan into a river from a downtown Milwaukee bridge during an argument July 26. Jordan drowned.
Edwards, 52, pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of aiding a felon in a plea agreement in Milwaukee County. He originally pleaded not guilty to first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
All three men were homeless when Jordan died.
Ksicinski said Jordan and Carr had a volatile relationship, and that Carr — who couldn't swim well — went into the water after Jordan and had to be saved. He said he didn't know why Carr went in, possibly to save Jordan or kill himself.
On Monday, Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams told Judge Rebecca Dallet that Carr had admitted his role in the death but that he would have had problems establishing that Edwards was involved in helping to lift Jordan off the bridge.
That's why they went with the reduced charge, which he can prove because Edwards admitted he initially lied to police in an effort to protect Carr.
Williams and Ksicinski asked Dallet to sentence Edwards to probation.
Edwards was 32 when he met Dahmer at a downtown Milwaukee mall. He went to Dahmer's apartment, where they drank and watched a movie before the serial killer threatened Edwards with a knife in 1991. Edwards testified at Dahmer's 1992 trial that he planned his escape after Dahmer clamped a handcuff on his wrist, put a knife to his groin and listened for his heartbeat.
"At one point, he said he was going to eat my heart," Edwards said. "For some reason, God told me not to let this guy handcuff me. He laid across me and put his head across my chest and was listening to my heart."
Edwards, a handcuff dangling from his wrist, said he hit Dahmer and was able to get away and flag down police.
Dahmer, who admitted killing 17 young men and boys, was serving life prison sentences when he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate in 1994.
Edwards has been convicted of at least three drug-related charges since 1997 and Ksicinski said he likely has post-traumatic stress disorder because of his experience with Dahmer. He said Edwards essentially "shorted out" that day on the bridge.
Dallet acknowledged Edwards' had been through a horrific ordeal with Dahmer, but that at his age he should nonetheless have known better.
"In your efforts to drown your sorrows, you have made other people victims," she said.
Edwards apologized and said, "I should have done more that day."
Dallet gave Edwards to the maximum possible sentence — one and a half years in prison — along with two years of extended supervision. She also ordered Edwards to pay $2,520 to Jordan's mother for funeral expenses, and to get alcohol and drug assessment and treatment. He received credit for 191 days already spent in jail.
Carr pleaded guilty to first-degree recklessly endangering safety and was sentenced Friday to four years in prison.