Former member of Edgars' church testifies she saw all three children bound

The Kansas City Star/September 24, 2003
By Tony Rizzo

Like other members of God's Creation Outreach Ministry, Chauntel Williams believed that Christy Edgar was endowed with a special gift.

She was a prophet who spoke the word of God.

On Tuesday, Williams testified that Edgar told church members God had instructed them to discipline their children by tying them up.

"We believed God really did come and tell her that," Williams said.

Williams, a former member of the Kansas City, Kan., church run by Edgar and her husband, Neil Edgar Sr., told Johnson County District Court jurors that she had seen three of the Edgar children bound.

Prosecutors allege that one of those children, 9-year-old Brian, died Dec. 30, 2002, after being encased in duct tape "like a mummy" with only his nose uncovered. Neil Edgar and family babysitter Chasity Boyd are on trial. Christy Edgar pleaded guilty last week to charges of felony first-degree murder and child abuse.

Jurors Tuesday also heard more testimony from Brian's 12-year-old brother and 9-year-old sister. Earlier they had watched videotaped statements the children gave to police.

Tuesday they testified live from an adjoining room over a closed-circuit television link-up. The lawyers were in the room with the children while the judge and jurors listened from the courtroom.

Both children said they were tied up with duct tape, black plastic fasteners and other items as punishment for taking food without permission, disobeying and "getting an attitude."

They demonstrated how socks were put over their hands, which were then duct-taped together. The younger child was asked why socks were used.

"So I won't get no bruises," she said.

Her brother said it was "so my hands won't get messed up."

"I have pretty hands," he said.

The 12-year-old said the children were frequently in trouble.

"We couldn't be trusted," he said. "We just had to be some bad little dudes."

The siblings both said Boyd was the one who usually tied them up at the direction of Christy Edgar. Neither implicated Neil Edgar in the hands-on punishment.

On the morning of Dec. 30, Brian Edgar was not breathing, and Neil Edgar took him to a hospital, according to previous testimony. The other Edgar children all testified that they were awakened and helped pick up the items that had been used to restrain Brian.

Williams testified that Christy Edgar and Boyd brought a black plastic trash bag to her house in Kansas City that day and told her to get rid of it. Williams said she did not ask them why or ask what was in the bag.

After they left, Williams said, she looked inside and saw a child's one-piece sleeper with duct tape on it, some socks and a wadded-up ball of duct tape.

Her husband built a fire in the fireplace, and they burned the items, Williams testified.

Williams, 30, a mother of nine children, testified Tuesday as part of a deal with prosecutors in which they will drop a charge of aiding a felon that was filed against her.

Williams said she had been a member of the Edgars' church off and on since she was 16. Neil Edgar was pastor, she said, and Christy Edgar had several titles, including co-pastor, evangelist and prophet.

"She said God gave her that title," Williams said.

She testified that she first heard about children being tied up when Christy Edgar talked about it with a group of church members last fall.

"We were told God came and gave her a new way to discipline the children," Williams said.

When questioned by Neil Edgar's attorney, Carl Cornwell, Williams said she had never heard Neil Edgar talk about tying up children or seen him do it.

Other testimony today came from pediatrician Lynn Sheets, director of child-abuse services at the University of Kansas Hospital. She examined two of Brian Edgar's siblings on Jan. 9 and said both children had injuries consistent with being bound, including marks on their wrists.

The little girl also had injuries consistent with being struck with a "looped cord," according to Sheets.

Police found a rubber fan belt in a desk drawer at the church-run school the Edgars attended, according to previous testimony.

The prosecution's case could be completed today.

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