Missing woman found dead in her car
BENTON HARBOR — Police uncovered the body of a missing Benton Harbor woman Jan. 7 and an arrest was made following the recovery of her body.
The woman was identified as Novena P. Mathis, 38, of Benton Harbor. She was reported missing when she failed to return home after being gone for several hours. The family reported her as an endangered missing person, and the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety began investigating the complaint.
Mathis’ vehicle was parked in the Hayward Wells apartment complex in Benton Harbor. When officers approached the vehicle, they discovered the body of a female inside. The body was subsequently confirmed to be Mathis. Police immediately suspected foul play.
The investigation quickly ascertained the identity of the suspect, William “Coonie” Edwards, 38, of Benton Harbor. Mathis and Edwards had been in a long-term relationship for about 20 years. Police said there had been a history of domestic violence in their relationship. They had two children in common.
Edwards had fled to Kalamazoo, however, he was arrested and lodged by the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety on unrelated drug and weapon charges.
An autopsy was conducted on Mathis’ body in Kalamazoo. Her death was ruled a homicide by gunshot wound, police said.
A warrant was authorized for Edwards for open murder, felon in possession of a firearm and felony firearm. Edwards is still being held pending his charges in Kalamazoo. A hold has been placed for him to return to Berrien County at the conclusion of the case there.