Gov. Tom Corbett signed the execution warrant Thursday for Stephen Rex Edmiston, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1988 murder of two-year-old Bobbi Jo Matthew in Clearfield County.
Edmiston's execution is scheduled for April 16, according to a release from the governor's office. It is the 31st execution warrant signed by Corbett.
Edmiston, 55, was sentenced to death in November 1989, according to the release, after being convicted of the child's killing.
Bobbi Jo Matthew was living in Gulich Township with her father, Harold Matthew, her grandmother, Nancy Dotts, and "several other children," according to the release. About 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 5, 1988, a man wearing a baseball cap and with a beard was seen in the house by the girl's father. The man woke Harold Matthew, and they talked briefly before Harold Matthew went back to sleep, according to the release.
Shortly after this conversation, according to the release, the man was seen by two of the children living in the house. He spoke briefly to Bobbi Jo Matthew before leaving the room, according to the release.
Nancy Dotts returned home about 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 5, according to the release, to find that the girl was missing. She awoke the other members of the house, who described the man they had seen, and Dotts determined that it was Edmiston, the nephew of her boyfriend, according to the release.
When police searched Edmiston's truck, they found blood on the seatbelt receptacle on the driver's side, blood on the bench seat, a blood-stained towel, bloody scissors and purple shorts matching those Bobbi Jo Matthew was wearing when she disappeared, according to the release. Edmiston confessed to police that he had taken the girl and drew a map to the part of Cambria County where he had taken her.
Edmiston told police they would find "a dead, raped little girl" at the location he had marked, according to the release. He admitted to raping Bobbi Jo Matthew and then hitting her with his fist several times until she stopped moving, according to police.
The girl's body was found at the location marked on Edmiston's map, according to the release, and she had suffered serious injuries to her head and torso. Evidence suggested that Bobbi Jo Matthew was still alive while many of the injuries occurred, according to the release.
Despite the confession, Edmiston has filed several appeals and in 2009 requested additional DNA testing of the blood found in his truck. The Pa. Supreme Court rejected his request in April 2013.
U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson in Johnstown stayed Edmiston's federal appeal until the state appeals were completed. A status conference has been scheduled for April 2 in the federal case.