Daniel Walker

The press clip below nicely summarizes the murder Daniel Walker on April 2, 1989 near the old Lewiston Spiral Highway.

Contact the Nez Perce County Sheriff if you know the whereabouts of suspect Edward Leslie Hart.

Police have arrest warrant for man who allegedly fled to Mexico

By Brad W. Gary

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Lewiston Tribune

Daniel M. Walker’s family still waits for the day his killer will surface.

Both past and present deputies with the Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Office are confident they know who fired the gun that killed Walker in the early morning hours of April 2, 1989.

The 31-year-old Clarkston man was shot multiple times as he sat in his parked pickup truck near the top of the old Lewiston Spiral Highway. Sheriff’s deputies found him slumped over the driver’s side of the 1970 Ford.

Detectives questioned Edward Leslie Hart in Colfax the day of the murder, and noted inconsistencies in his statement. They drove to his house with an arrest warrant on charges of first-degree murder two days later, only to find Hart gone, having allegedly fled to Mexico.

That warrant still stands, as does one issued by the FBI alleging Hart unlawfully fled to avoid prosecution. His whereabouts have puzzled authorities, who have seen his name pop up in the southeast United States over the past few years.

“My gut feeling is he’s still around, he’s still alive, he’s still in hiding,” said sheriff’s Detective Kevin Messelt, the case’s current investigator.

It’s a feeling shared by Walker’s older sister, Karen Volland. She believes Hart is out there somewhere.

“I just can’t imagine this guy having to sneak in the middle of the night and hide,” Volland said. “His life had to have been hell, which it should have been.”

Volland was living in Spokane when her younger brother died, and remembers calling his home April 2 to see if he wanted to make some money painting her house. The phone was answered by an Asotin County sheriff’s deputy, trying to notify Walker’s family about his death.

“I can talk about it now; at least we know where he’s at,” Volland said. The family has a place to go to visit their brother’s grave, she said.

She and Walker were among four siblings who grew up together in Spokane. Volland, who now lives in western Washington, remembers her brother as a daredevil, and a “feisty little brother” who never got to realize his full potential.

Volland also remembers her brother’s drug use, something that started when Walker began experimenting with different substances in high school.

Both Hart and Walker’s connection to cocaine and other drugs may have been a factor in the killing, according to the sheriff’s office.

But by 1989, Volland said her brother had tried to put that past behind him. He graduated from Washington State University with a degree in landscape architecture the year before. He was looking to start his own landscaping business.

“When push came to shove, he got down to the end of the college career, he had a portfolio that was miraculous,” Volland said.

His longtime girlfriend, who declines to be named for fear of her safety, also remembers the gift Walker had for his craft.

“He planted his mother’s yard and designed it,” she said. “His drawings were just raved about by the professors at WSU.”

A Clarkston city license for Walker’s landscaping business came in the mail about a week after his death, she said.

Walker’s girlfriend also remembers her former companion as a “joker,” who would help anyone who needed a lift up. Walker would do anything to help his mother, his girlfriend said. They often visited her in Spokane, and his girlfriend said Walker always compiled a mental list of chores around the house.

“He was kind and loving and caring. He had nicknames for everybody,” she said.

They met by chance, she said, and a relationship quickly blossomed that would continue until his death a decade later. They were raising two sons when Walker was killed.

He did odd jobs, she said, and sold stoves to make ends meet. Every month he left Clarkston for his service with Washington’s Army National Guard.

They lived in Colfax for about a year while Walker attended WSU, but returned to Clarkston when she became homesick for her grandparents. Walker continued to attend classes, and hitchhiked daily to Pullman for school.

But while he was involved with drugs, Walker’s girlfriend said he never told her much about that lifestyle.

Both she and Volland remember the shooting as a shock to their families. Volland said she still wants to know why her brother was shot. She wants to see Hart put on trial, but isn’t sure she wants to put her mother through the pain that renewing the memories would bring.

“All I know is that he was a very brilliant guy, he would have been, and his life was cut short,” Volland said, “and we don’t know exactly why.”

Ron Koeper is sure enough to call Walker’s murder “solved.” The former Nez Perce County sheriff said detectives didn’t have enough evidence to arrest Hart the day of the killing. That evidence came together a few days later, Koeper told the Tribune this fall. But Hart was already gone.

“We were just looking for murder evidence, and we got it,” the former sheriff said. “But we just wanted his statement on the lie box. And he took off on us.”

Now, Messelt, the fourth detective to work the case, just wants to find him.

Every year the FBI and the sheriff’s office exchange new information when available on the case. There was a rumor that Hart died in Mexico shorty after Walker’s murder, but Messelt said detectives at the time were never able to prove it.

“The FBI still consider him alive and on the loose, somewhere,” Messelt said. “I’m sure he’s still alive and kicking.”

In the past year Hart’s name and Social Security number surfaced when someone used it to apply for a job in the Atlanta area. Someone who matched his picture was spotted in the southeast United States a few years ago.

While the investigation has slowed, the family occasionally hears about the case. “America’s Most Wanted” called last year telling family members Walker’s case would be profiled on the television program. She has yet to see the profile, Volland said, but holds out hope that added publicity will lead to Hart’s capture.

Detectives put time in as time allows, and Messelt said the case is pursued when new leads come up. With technological advances, Messelt said they may one day get a hit that will return Hart to Idaho.

And as Walker’s family members prepare to enter their 20th year without him, they still talk about him often. His longtime girlfriend said she sees Walker whenever she looks at their youngest child, now an adult himself.

“My youngest is the absolute spitting image of his father,” she said, “to the point they have to do a double take.”

—Source: Lewiston Tribune