‘Kid Death’ Reporting: Veteran San Antonio police reporter launches Texas true crime podcast

click to enlarge Former San Antonio Express-News police reporter Thomas Edwards has launched a new true crime podcast with his wife, Florence. - MAX BOOTH III
Max Booth III
Former San Antonio Express-News police reporter Thomas Edwards has launched a new true crime podcast with his wife, Florence.
“Hello, everyone. I’m Thomas Edwards, a veteran crime reporter who’s covered some of the most gruesome homicides and darkest mysteries to plague Texas during modern times,” begins the first episode of The Rap Sheet, a new true crime podcast Edwards hosts with his wife Florence.

In that episode, the couple tackles one of the highest-profile crimes in the city’s history: the unsolved murder of 11-year-old Heidi Seeman, who was abducted in broad daylight on the streets of Northeast San Antonio in 1990.

Where many true crime podcasts rely on late-night Wikipedia browsing for their source material, The Rap Sheet differs in that Thomas Edwards, a former San Antonio Express-News police reporter, covered the cases he discusses when they originally occurred. When it comes to the Heidi Seeman case, he met with the family, assisted in the search and even “unwittingly befriended the man later named as a prime suspect.”

The same hands-on experience can be applied to any of their couple’s other episodes — which range from a one-man crime spree in Marble Falls to a serial pedophile-murderer San Antonio paramedic. Being present during the cases they’re discussing holds an undeniable advantage over other podcasts also tackling similar subjects.

“I was standing next to the suspect,” Edwards explains. “I was there when the crime scene unfolded.”

Sometimes those crimes even made national headlines. An upcoming episode will cover the Republic of Texas secessionist group’s 1997 standoff, for example.

“Their splinter group went out to West Texas to a compound and eventually ended up in a faceoff with about 500 law enforcement officers in the mountains,” Thomas Edwards said. “There were boobytrapped roads. They took a rancher hostage, shot him, took his wife at bay. But I was in and out of their compound a lot, and got the only interview with their leader after he was arrested. With these crooks, I was there rubbing shoulders with them and the officers chasing after them. That’s the perspective I bring. I’m not just reading you something. I’m telling you, ‘Well, here’s what I saw. Here’s what he said when I talked to him.’”

From Kolchak to the front page

An army brat, Edwards lived all over the country. His father, a lieutenant colonel in the Medical Service Corps, served four tours of duty at Fort Sam Houston. It was growing up in the Alamo City, watching episodes of Jeff Rice’s cult TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker, that Edwards first found inspiration to embrace a newspaper career.

“I fell in love with the idea of this reporter always stumbling across these macabre events and mysteries,” he said.

Edwards started working at the Express-News in January 1985 as a police reporter, where he was nicknamed “Kid Death” by a sportswriter based on how many gruesome murders he covered over his career.

“I worked all hours, all shifts, where I really got to learn about crime, police procedures and how officers conduct themselves,” Edwards said.

He also had to learn how to interview people on the worst days of their lives.

“A lot of times you’d think people would slam the door in your face — but, actually, they want to talk instead,” Edwards said. “They want a record. They want the rest of the world to know who this person was.”

‘The Wild West’

The first inkling of what would eventually become The Rap Sheet originated in the 1990s, when the now-defunct San Antonio Light was owned by the Hearst Corp. and the Express-News was owned by Rupert Murdoch. The rival daily newspapers were located across the street from each other.

“It was the Wild West,” Edwards says. “It was fun, but it was frenetic too, because we were constantly in competition.”

This fun-filled rivalry came to an end when Hearst purchased the Express-News and shut down the Light in 1993.

“[The San Antonio Light reporters] were our competitors, but they were also our friends,” Edwards recalls. “As our colleagues across the street were contemplating what to do when their jobs were over, some of us started talking about how this town loves a crime story. I don’t know who came up with the idea, but we started talking about maybe all of us breaking away and doing our own little crime newspaper. Then the Light closed, people went their separate ways, I got booted upstairs and became an editor. Everybody got married, had kids, so that crime newspaper idea was kind of forgotten.”

Beating the street

But Edwards never completely let go.

Following the August 2021 end of his job with LOCAL Community News, where he served as the executive editor for nine years, Edwards decided to launch The Rap Sheet with his wife.

In addition to going over his old newspaper stories for episode preparation, Edwards follows chat groups and Reddit threads — and keeps up with the network he built as a beat reporter.

“I still talk to my old police sources,” he said. “The primary years for these cases are the late ’80s, the ’90s, and the early part of this century. Probably really nothing past 2009. By then I became nothing but an editor running papers and telling other reporters what to go cover.”

That last part doesn’t appear to be changing. Edwards just landed a new gig as executive editor for Granite Media Partners Inc., a Taylor-based enterprise that runs a network of 10 Texas community papers.

But he still misses the thrill of being a police reporter.

“I loved it,” Edwards said. “I enjoyed the job. You never loved the grief or the pain. We enjoyed performing our duty.”

So, is The Rap Sheet his way of reliving those days on the crime beat?

“I like to think of it as telling people about stories they might not have been around for the first time that they’d still be fascinated by,” he said.

The Rap Sheet is available to stream on most podcast platforms, including Spotify and iTunes.

Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.