A killer is still out there

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 5, 2003

There is a killer on the loose, and Monday marks the first anniversary of the death of his victim, 20-year-old Edward Duncan Campbell. He was savagely strangled Sunday, Jan. 6, 2002, and his body undiscovered until March 8.

No arrest has been made in this crime, and the victim’s family and closest friend are dissatisfied with the way the investigation is being handled.

The Random House College Dictionary states the word &uot;murder&uot; means the unlawful killing of a human being with malice, or &uot;something extremely difficult or perilous.&uot; Both those meanings seem to apply in the brutal killing of Campbell. He was certainly killed in an unlawful manner; and being strangled with a belt indicates there may have been plenty of malice. And, his family and closest friends are surely experiencing &uot;something extremely difficult.&uot;

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Campbell was a well-liked young man with big plans for his future. On the day he disappeared, his family was not only worried but also surprised. His best friend, Joshua Dungan of Quaker Drive, was also perturbed by the youth’s failure to show up for dinner.

&uot;Duncan was going to start a new job and he’d already signed up to start attending college on Jan. 7,&uot; said Dungan, the young man who’d been closer than a brother to the murdered friend. &uot;He was so excited about everything that was about to happen for him and I knew that he wouldn’t just walk away from it and forget it. At first I thought he’d just stayed out with friends and I wasn’t really concerned. When his dad called though, I sensed deep down inside that something was wrong. I felt it.

&uot;Then, in March, a police officer called me to ask what size boot Duncan wore. I knew they’d found his body.&uot;

Dungan described his slain friend as an average student, one who could learn &uot;what he wanted to learn.&uot; Amid speculation that the killing was drug related, Dungan explained that while Campbell &uot;smoked a little pot with his friends but, he was no damned drug addict.&uot; Dungan said he has no idea why his friend was murdered and that he has his own ideas of who the killer is. However, he will not make that part of his statement public.

Campbell and Dungan became fast friends when they entered the sixth-grade together. Both loved soccer and they shared the joy of fishing with Campbell’s dad who was also their coach. Dungan’s mom, Pat, was also one of their coaches.

As he described the day he was informed of Duncan’s death, Dungan wept unashamedly.

&uot;I don’t understand why the police haven’t made an arrest,&uot; he said. &uot;I think it’s partly because there were three jurisdictions involved in the case; Suffolk where Duncan was found in the water, Portsmouth where his bright red Toyota Forerunner was found parked in the lot of Cherokee Apartments in Portsmouth and Chesapeake where the Campbells lived about one and a quarter miles from the Suffolk city line. It just seems like the police were not working well together. Especially the Crime Line system.&uot;

Dungan explained that police in all three jurisdictions had been searching for Campbell’s vehicle and it was finally found by another of the youth’s friends.

&uot;He called me to say he’d spotted the car in the parking lot and I told him to call the Hampton Roads Crime Line number we’d been given, 1-800-LOCK-U-UP,&uot; said Dungan. &uot;That didn’t work at all because we lost track of how many times we’d called the number and they never called us back to get information on the car. We called the detective in Portsmouth, a Detective Black, many times and he finally called me to say they’d found the car. I told him that my friend and I had been trying to tell him where it was for weeks.&uot;

Dungan is obviously angry and disgusted with the manner in which he sees the investigation being handled. He said Black, a Portsmouth Police Department investigator, met with him, his family and the Campbells once a month for updates on progress of the investigation.

&uot;I don’t know why he even bothers,&uot; said Dungan, his hands shaking as he attempted to light a cigarette. &uot;He has no news, nothing new… just the same statements every time we see him. We need to know who killed Duncan and why this happened.&uot;

Dungan added that his concern was not only for his own peace of mind, but also for Sally and Ed Campbell, Duncan’s parents. He also watches his mother’s face closely, visibly cringing as he sees the pain etched across her face.

&uot;Sally…she’s just not Sally anymore,&uot; he said quietly. &uot;She’s just not been right… not been herself since Duncan was taken from all of us. I do believe it would help her as well as all of us if they’d make an arrest and they’d damned well better make one.&uot;

Duncan’s mother, a secretary at a veteran’s hospital, has been in and out of treatment and hospitalization since the day her child was pulled from the pond beside the parkway in Suffolk. His body was so badly decomposed dental records were all that could identify her son.

&uot;Try living with that,&uot; said Campbell, constantly wringing her hands. &uot;It’s horrible enough that Duncan was just snatched away from us in such a cruel and brutal manner, but try living with the memory of your son in that shape. I just don’t know from day to day… It’s so hard to ….It’s horrible!&uot;

As she struggled to keep from crying, Campbell pulled photos of her son from frames, from her wallet, from photo packs, from stacks of photos. She couldn’t find enough photos of her son, and she was visibly shaking.

Stoically, Ed Campbell sat silently listening to his wife describe his only son. Campbell, an instructor at St. Leo’s College, had his own memories to cherish. He didn’t weep, didn’t shake. He only had a distant, searching look in his eyes that revealed what he struggled so hard to hide; mental anguish that will never leave him.

&uot;We did everything together, Duncan and me,&uot; said Campbell. &uot;We fished. We fished anywhere we could drop a line from here to the Outer Banks, the rivers, the lakes. And, we went to the games and I coached Duncan and Josh for years… since their early childhood. We all miss him so much… terrible.&uot;

Pat Dungan and her son Josh, like the Campbells, don’t understand why Duncan’s killer is still free.

&uot;Josh and Duncan were like brothers and he was like my son and our families are very close,&uot; said Pat Dungan. &uot;We will always miss Duncan. This year was so difficult but never more than it was Christmas day. We hung his fishing lures on the Christmas tree and we celebrated the fact that we had him on loan from God for those 20 short years. He was a great kid, a wonderful person and he would have been a good man. God has him now. At least we have that to be grateful for, but they have to find out who took his life.&uot;

Sally Campbell spoke softly as she explained that she did not want another mother to go through the kind of pain she experiences each day.

If anyone saw the red Toyota on Jan. 6, 2002, or if you have any information that could help solve this murder, call the Suffolk Crime Line at 539-1222. Your call will receive a response and you may keep your identity a secret. If your information leads to an arrest, you are eligible for up to $1,000 reward.