Man accused of murdering longtime girlfriend

Novena Mathis.
An undated courtesy photo of Novena Mathis.

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WOOD) — A Benton Harbor man faces a murder charge in the shooting death of the mother of his children, police say.

The victim, identified Tuesday as 38-year-old Novena Mathis, was reported missing Sunday, according to the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety. Her family was worried because she had been gone for several hours.

Officers soon found Mathis’ car parked at the Hayward Wells apartment complex, which is in the area of Colfax Avenue and Britain Avenue. They discovered her body inside.

Authorities say Mathis died as the result of a gunshot wound. A Tuesday autopsy ruled her death a homicide.

Investigators immediately suspected foul play upon finding Mathis’ body and identified her boyfriend as the suspect.

Police say Mathis and 38-year-old William “Coonie” Edwards had been involved for about 20 years and had two children together. There was a history of domestic violence.

William Edwards
Mug shot: William Edwards.

Edwards was arrested in Kalamazoo on unrelated drug and weapons charges. Berrien County authorities have authorized charges of open murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm and felony firearm against him. A hold has been placed on Edwards so he will be returned to Berrien County when the Kalamazoo case is resolved.