The Child Murders of Mack Ray Edwards

His California murder spree spanned two terrifying decades and left a trail of missing children who may never be recovered.

Heather Monroe
18 min readJun 9, 2021


Each day millions of people travel California’s freeways, seemingly unaware they are driving over graves. One man abducted between six and 22 children between 1953 and 1971, disposing of most of their bodies beneath our highways.

The First

The Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles, California
23 Jun 1953, Tue • Page 2

Stella Darlene Nolan, born January 1, 1945, was the only child of Owen and Ilena Nolan. In 1953, Owen worked as a handyman while Ilena ran a sandwich stand at Auction City Fleamarket and Auction House in Norwalk, California. They made their home in a quaint trailer park at 16108 S Atlantic Avenue in nearby Compton.

Despite their lean financial situation, the Nolan family was happy. Owen and Ilena adored their little daughter. She was a lovely child with blonde curls, big cornflower blue eyes, and a charming personality.

Saturday, June 20, 1953, was the day before Father’s Day. Ilena planned to take her daughter to work at Auction City, as she often did. Knowing her daddy had to work the next day, Stella asked her mother to give him his gift and greeting card early.

“You know, Mommy,” Stella whispered, “I think I’ll give Daddy his card today. You can’t tell what’s going to happen…”

Inside the card, Stella wrote, “Dear Father, I hope you have a very happy Father’s Day.” After Ilena gave Owen his presents, mother and daughter made their way to the concessions stand.

Stella played with her schoolmate, Barbara Ann Churchill, while her mother worked a few feet away. Stella was exceptionally well-behaved and made sure to check in with her mother every hour as instructed. When 9 PM rolled around, Stella didn’t make her hourly appearance. Immediately, Ilena knew something was wrong.

Ilena scoured the large marketplace frantically, looking for her seven-year-old daughter with no luck. No one, including little Barbara Ann, saw Stella leave. Certainly, no one saw her interacting with any stranger. That alone would be out of character for Stella, who her mother remembered as shy, almost apprehensive, of people she didn’t know…



Heather Monroe

Welcome readers! Heather Monroe is a genealogist and writer who resides in California with her partner and their nine children. •True Crime• History• Memoir•