Real Name: Carl Alfred Eder
Aliases: Charles Harrison
Wanted For: Murder, Escape
Missing Since: October 11, 1974
Details: On November 2, 1958, thirty-nine-year-old aircraft worker Thomas Pendergast was driving to his home in El Cajon, California, when he picked up a sixteen-year-old hitchhiker named Carl Alfred Eder. Eder had run away from his home in Irondequoit, New York. Thomas felt sorry for him and let him stay with his family. On December 12, Thomas left for work; during the day, Eder murdered Thomas' entire family.
Eder claimed that he became angry because four-year-old Diane was making a lot of noise. He stormed into her room and threw her on the floor, causing her to cut her head. Thomas' thirty-seven-year-old wife Lois told him to call the doctor. Instead, he grabbed a pistol from the garage and shot Lois. He then slashed the throats of Diane and two-year-old Allen with a hunting knife. When six-year-old Thomas Jr. and nine-year-old David came home from school, Eder cut Thomas Jr.'s throat in a bedroom. David tried to escape by running into their garage. However, Eder caught up with him and stabbed and slashed him to death.
When Thomas Sr. came home from work, Eder was waiting outside. He forced him at gunpoint to drive him to San Diego. When he returned home, he discovered the bodies. Three days later on December 15, Eder was arrested in Mission Beach, a beach community a few miles north of San Diego. He then confessed to the murders. In 1959, he pleaded guilty to five counts of murder. In March, he was sentenced to five life terms; three were to be served concurrently and two consecutively.
On October 11, 1974, Eder, then thirty-two, walked away from a minimum-security work detail at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, California. He left behind a note saying: "I’ve done enough time and I’m leaving." He was last seen in 1976 in the Calistoga and St. Helena areas, where he had been linked to anti-government groups like the Venceremos Brigade and the Symbionese Liberation Army. Authorities speculated that he may have been killed by members of one of these groups who were nervous about his violent rhetoric, but this has not been confirmed.
Eder was known to have ties to the Berkeley and San Francisco areas, southern California, Minneapolis, Minneosta, New York, Kansas, and possibly Latin America or Canada. He also had ties to motorcycle gangs. He is a follower of Zen Buddishm and is considered to be an outdoorsman. He is a skilled cabinet maker and wood carver. He also had experience as a lab technician. If he is still alive, he would now be in his late seventies. He is described as 6'2", 175 pounds, with blond or gray hair, blue eyes, scars on his left hand and abdomen, and a mole under his left eye. A $20,000 reward is being offered in this case.
- The case first aired as a part of an escapee special alert in the February 8, 1989 episode, along with Thomas Nauss Jr., Lena Regina Smith, and Joseph Mancini.
- It was excluded from the FilmRise release of the Robert Stack episodes.
- He was also profiled on America’s Most Wanted.
- The Symbionese Liberation Army was also featured in the segment about fugitive James Kilgore.
Results: Wanted. Sadly, on February 1, 2012, Thomas passed away at the age of eighty-seven without seeing his family's killer recaptured.
- Carl Eder on AMW archive
- Killer of mother, children hunted house to house - December 14, 1958
- Police In Huge Manhunt For Youth Who Killed 5 - December 14, 1958
- Man Who Blamed Transient Quizzed In Calif. Slayings - December 15, 1958
- Befriended youth kills mother, four children - December 16, 1958
- Father Confronts Slayer of Family - December 16, 1958
- Youth Captured; Admits Killing 5 - December 16, 1958
- No link found between Furbeck, California murders - December 18, 1958
- Youth to Be Tried as Adult in California Slaying of 5 - January 28, 1959
- Slayer of 5 Gets 5 Life Sentences - March 21, 1959
- Escaped murderer hunted - October 13, 1974
- Mass killer, Tehachapi escapee, still at large - October 15, 1974
- Wanted: Folsom Prison escapee makes list - January 1, 2003
- Authorities renew search for prison escapee - January 3, 2013
- Carl Alfred Eder Wanted for 50 Years for Murder of Woman and Her Four Children - January 21, 2014
- Lois, David, Thomas Jr., Diane, and Alan at Find a Grave