RICHFIELD, Utah (ABC4 News) – Ed Callison never could admit he killed his wife. He was in denial according to Richfield’s police chief.
But once his explanation of what happened began to unfold police knew they had caught his wife’s killer.
Melanie Layton Callison disappeared in late September of 2014. Her family filed a missing persons report. Her husband, Ed, never contacted police but told family members she left him and probably left for San Francisco. But her family suspected Ed was involved in her disappearance.
And as police began to dig deeper they found human bones at a campsite where Callison was spotted burning something. He became a suspect but police never told them he was. They wanted him to keep talking. And Callison obliged.
“Right here is where I made her into pieces,” Callison told police.
It was November 2014 and Callison agreed to lead police around the campsite called Devil’s Willow Patch where the human bones were found.
“I’m not some ax murderer, OK?” Callison said. “I hope you don’t think that (expletive) OK? But I made her into pieces.”
Police were video recording the tour Callison was giving them.
Days before, police chief Trent Lloyd and his former boss found tire tracks at the campsite along with the human bones. They photographed the tire tracks and privately compared them to those belong to Callison’s truck. They said it was a match.
Then he was spotted at the campsite burning something. They never let Callison know what they had already discovered. The strategy was to keep him talking and believing what he was telling them.
It was then that Callison said his wife died from a drug overdose and he took an ax and cut her into pieces.
“God, I hate to talk about that but I got to be honest,” he told police. “I cut her head off right there. She’s already dead. Got to be nice to the body.”
Lloyd and Lt. Allen DeMille were with Callison that day. Lloyd said he was horrified but couldn’t show emotion.
“Just let him talk and I kept hoping that he would keep talking,” Lloyd said.
And Callison does just that. He continued his tour of the campsite and showed them where to dig.
“You just rake all the leave stuff off and then it’s really harder and then softer,” he said. “Right there and the bigger pieces, all it was, was a torso buried right there.”
Callison said he took the parts of Melanie’s body and threw them into the fire he built.
He said he cremated Melanie and buried other parts of her body.
“And what are we going to find there?” police could be heard asking Callison during their time at the campsite.
Callison: “That’s the ashes so be careful,” he responded.
Police: “Just ashes totally?”
Police: “No bones?”
Callison: “Nope, just ashes.”
Even though Callison claimed she overdosed then cut her in pieces, police suspected he murdered her first then dismembered her body.
So they brought him back to the police headquarters and questioned him again.
Their interview with Callison was also video recorded.
Callison: “I put 20 seroquels, ground up into her drink. You know. Ok? and that’s what…”
Police: “About did her in?”
He repeated the drug overdose alibi again. He said Melanie overdosed, appeared dead but came back to life. He told police that he picked up an ax and was ready to strike her.
Callison: “I put the ax away. I couldn’t hurt that lady. It’s just not in me to do that.”
He claimed Melanie died an hour later and he began chopping her into pieces.
Callison: “I got her head off. I got her legs, her arms off, like here and legs off. OK? And started taking pieces over there and putting them on the fire.”
Melanie was burned beyond recognition. Human bone fragments were found around the firepit.
His motive? Callison told police her drug habit was too much for him to handle and he couldn’t take it anymore.
Callison: “I did not kill her. I couldn’t do it. OK?”
Police: “But the pills did.”
Callison: “The pills did and I put the pills in the bottle.”
On November 14th, Callison was charged with Melanie’s murder, obstruction of justice and the desecration of a dead body.
Callison did not want a trial and a month later, he pleaded guilty to Melanie’s murder.
At sentencing, he told Judge Marvin Bagley that Melanie committed suicide but he helped.
Callison: “Because I had the pills in the bottle I caused it. But I didn’t flat out kill her. And yes after that I went and hid everything, buried her. “I was very, very nice if there was such a thing, respectful.”
At that moment, the crowd could be heard responding in an angry manner.
Callison: “I was. It wasn’t like a mean wicked thing, sounds like it.”
Judge Bagley: “Mr. Callison you are an evil man.
Judge Bagley: “You are an evil person.”
Callison was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years to life in prison. Judge Bagley said he will recommend to the board of pardons that Callison never be released.
It took Richfield police less than 90 days to solve the case. But still to this day aren’t satisfied.
“I would like conclusion,” said Chief Lloyd. “I would like to know what happened. I would like for the family to have some remains to bury.”
To this date, the state has yet to identify those bones found at the campsite.
The hot fire didn’t leave any DNA and the medical examiner couldn’t confirm if belonged to Melanie.
Her family has yet to receive her remains.
“We do have a headstone and that’s all we have,” said her mother Ellen Rowe. “A lot of times I can’t go out (there). This year I was able to go out and I didn’t cry. I did watch my granddaughters with their arms around the stone and just sobbed. Just sobbed. It’s very difficult. it’s very difficult.”
Wednesday, Lloyd told ABC4 News the medical examiner will release some of the remains to the family. A family spokesman said they will hold a private service and place the remains at the gravesite.