Gossip website helps solve mystery of train victim

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After weeks of uncertainty, the previously unidentified victim of a deadly train wreck will be laid to rest with his family by his side.

61-year old Charles Wayne Edge died earlier this month in Madison County. He was hit by a train while sitting on the tracks about a half- mile north of the Four Mile Road intersection. He had been staying in Madison County but did not have a permanent address. Investigators turned to the internet to help in the search for the man's loved ones.

Madison County Coroner Jimmy Cornelison is used to telling people bad news, but when investigators found a man dead on the side of the train tracks with no identification, Cornelison didn't have anyone to tell. "You just always wonder, who's missing who, where?" Cornelison said.

The victim was a mystery. All the coroner could do was start from the location of death, and work from there. "We tried to get an ID on him," Cornelison said, "and the best I could do was I took pictures of him with my camera, went to the jail the next morning to see if they did know who he was."

Jail officials recognized the man as Charles Harris. He had been arrested for some minor nonviolent crimes. Records at the jail led to an employer listed as an emergency contact. It turns out Charles worked for a body and repair shop and lived on property owned by his boss, but friends weren't sure about the name, Harris. "As soon as somebody indicated to me that they did not think that was his real name, then the world kind of stopped," Cornelison explained, "I can't proceed on with anything. I need to find out who he is."

One of those friends turned to the news website Topix, asking if anyone had any information. It wasn't long before a school teacher in South Carolina found the post and realized the mystery man was his father. Family members identified the victim as Charles Edge, a drifter who made his way through Florida, Texas, and finally Kentucky. "The thing on Topix kind of gave us a direction to go, and the fingerprints just capped it all off," Cornelison said.

Family members began arriving in town Thursday to recover Mr. Edge, and the local friends who found them have helped make arrangements for a proper goodbye. "They've raised money. They've gone to a funeral home here. They plan to bury him on a farm that has a cemetery Saturday," Cornelison said, "The family, my understanding is going to be out of pocket nothing, and that's the way these guys want it."

A mystery solved and an affirmation of something never in question, Charles Edge was someone.

Edge will be laid to rest Saturday afternoon in Richmond. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Combs, Parsons & Collins.

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