Real Name: Joann Hedvie Albanese
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: August 19, 1995
Details: In April of 1995, Joann Albanese, a thirty-nine-year-old divorced mother of two teenage daughters, was introduced to fitness instructor John Edwards. At first they seemed very happy together. However, cracks soon emerged in their relationship. He paid for nothing and lived off of her earnings. She and her friends noticed that he had a hair-trigger temper. He was also controlling and abusive.
On August 19, 1995, Joann left work at 4:30pm. Later that day, she vanished from her home in Las Vegas with John. Her daughters discovered that she was missing when they returned home from a visit with their father. At first, authorities thought that they had left on an unannounced vacation. However, they soon learned that Joann was planning to end her relationship with John the same day that she vanished. Four days later, her car was found abandoned in a canyon near Prescott, Arizona, but no other trace of her was found. Authorities suspected foul play.
Police discovered that a truck parked outside of Joann's home belonged to John. Strangely, there was no record of the license plate. When they searched his home, they found a wallet that was duct-taped shut. In it, they found Alaska identification for a man named John Addis. They discovered that this was his true identity. They suspected that he had been angered because Joann was breaking up with him, so he killed her and then disposed of her body and car.
Authorities discovered that John was a detective for the Alaska State Police in the 1970s. At the time, he was married to his first wife, Jodi, who later divorced him because of domestic abuse. They lived in a cabin in the remote woods that didn't have running water or heat. He enjoyed hunting caribou in the Alaskan wilderness, but he was also a talented young detective with a mind for forensic science. He was so gifted that he instructed law enforcement from all over Alaska in crime scene analysis.
At the time, no one knew that John was also physically abusive and controlling towards Jodi. One day, he got into an argument with her. She said she wanted to leave him and jumped out of their car. He chased her down and threw her back in. However, she was able to escape and was granted a divorce.
After the divorce, John quickly remarried, and his personality turned from bad to worse. He abandoned his wilderness lifestyle, became a middle class homemaker, and soon quit his job at the state patrol. He was extremely abusive towards his third wife. Then he abducted his four children from his first marriage and fled to Michigan, where he was involved in several robberies. He was eventually arrested and served one year in prison for parental child abduction.
Over the next decade, John jumped parole in Alaska and went throughout the United States posing as a fitness instructor, screen writer, and novelist. He was a master at changing his identity, which helped him keep above the law. Then he met Joann, who authorities now believed was his first victim to die. This was confirmed on October 9, 1998, over three years after she disappeared, when her remains were discovered one mile from the location of her abandoned car. He has been charged with her murder, but he remains at large.
Suspects: John Addis
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the April 19, 1996 episode as a special alert; it received a full segment in the July 30, 2001 episode. It was also profiled on America’s Most Wanted during the investigation and documented on FBI: Criminal Pursuit after its resolution.
The book "Ghost: The True Story of One Man's Descent Into Madness and Murder" was written about the case.
Results: Solved. John managed to elude authorities for eleven years, until the FBI received a tip that he was living in Chiapas, Mexico with Laura Liliana Padilla and their two children. She had vanished with him in 1997 and her family had feared that he had killed her.
In October 2006, police arrived at their home, only to find Laura and the children dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. A few days later, John's body was discovered in a hotel room in Guatemala City, Guatemala as a suspected suicide, possibly to avoid prosecution. However, a local coroner ruled that he had died of a heart attack. Fingerprints were used to confirm his identity. Joann's case is now closed.
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