A Mo. Mother Drained a Pond to Find the Remains of Her Son, Who Was Murdered in 2015

Connie Goodwin rented a sump pump last weekend to uncover the last of her son's remains and give him a proper burial

Connie Goodwin has waited seven years to properly lay her son to rest after the 32-year-old man was murdered in 2015. After she rented a sump pump to drain a Missouri pond with her husband and grandson, thus uncovering the last of his remains, she can finally do just that.

Edward Goodwin went missing from Poplar Bluff, Mo., in the summer of 2015, leaving behind his son Gage, 15 at the time, and loving parents Connie and Ed Goodwin. For two years, Connie searched high and low for her son, holding rallies and putting up billboards urging authorities to find him.

In 2017, the Butler County Sheriff's Department found partial remains of Edward in a small lake in Poplar Bluff after they drained most of the water during an investigation. The Sheriff's Department found 40 percent of Edward's remains — which was enough to use as evidence against the two men suspected of killing him — but Connie felt she didn't have closure until she found the rest of her son.

"They promised they were going to go back, even in the newspaper they said they were going to go back, but they never did," Connie tells PEOPLE. "I called them about every other day trying to find out when they were going to do it."

Edward Goodwin, left, and his mother Connie Goodwin, right, at the pond where her son's remains were found.Connie Goodwin

Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs tells PEOPLE that authorities returned to the location in fall of 2021, but didn't have the equipment to drain the rest of the muddy water.

Says Connie, "I told them months ago that if they don't do it, I told them that one of these days, I'm going to do it myself."

And she did. On Saturday morning, Connie, Ed and Gage, now 22, all arrived at the body of water — which after the initial draining, is now a pond and not a lake. At 8:30 a.m., they began pumping out water with the rented sump pump. Two hours later, they saw bones.

"We saw two bones sticking up, so we kept pumping and then the next thing you know we started seeing the concrete blocks and then barbed wire and more bones," Connie says, referencing the materials used to sink Edward's body to the bottom of the water.

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She then called the Butler County Coroner, Jim Akers, who came to the scene. Once the remaining water was out of the pond, Akers, who was knee-deep in the mud, began digging the skeletal remains out by hand.

"The mud was two to three feet deep, very thick, and infested with wildlife," Akers tells PEOPLE, who adds that dental records have confirmed the remains are Edward's.

Jim Akers, left, and Gage and Connie Goodwin.Connie Goodwin

In 2017, the same year that partial remains of Edward were found by the sheriff's department, two men were arrested for his murder — Rickey Hurt and Eldrid Smith. Hurt and Smith both pleaded guilty in 2021 and are now imprisoned for the murder of their one-time friend.

Connie says Edward's son Gage, who was being raised by his single father before his death, has been deeply impacted over the years by his father's murder.

She also says when she looks at Gage, she sees Edward, calling him a "spitting image of his daddy."

Ed Goodwin, Edward's father, at the pond where his son's remains were found.Connie Goodwin

Edward's family still remembers him for all of his great qualities. They are now relieved they can finally give him a proper resting place.

"He was a loving father; he was a loving son, and he'd do anything for anyone," Connie says. "He loved his kids and his nieces and nephews. He loved his whole family and his family loved him."

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