CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The man accused of murdering Altria executive Leyla Namiranian appeared in Chesterfield court via video Friday morning. Michael Edwards, 54, barely lifted his eyes from the ground when the judge addressed him. Namiranian was last seen alive in April 2012. Her body has never been found.
Edwards had previously been questioned about the disappearance of his former girlfriend, but was only charged with a crime this week.
During Friday's hearing, a judge appointed Edwards an attorney. No one from Namiranian's family attended the hearing, however there was someone who showed up to show support for the woman who disappeared without a trace.
Virginia Hickey said she met Namiranian's father when he flew to the U.S. from Italy in hopes of finding his daughter after she disappeared.
"I think somebody had to be a spokesperson for Leyla Namiranian," Hickey said outside of court. "I feel very badly about what happened to her."
Court documents revealed police had questioned Edwards several times after Namiranian's disappearance. The paperwork details accounts from friends saying Namiranian had ended the relationship with Edwards. Journal entries showed she was scared of him and his alleged threats that he would "get her."
Search warrants showed investigators took gloves, towels, clothes boots, a lottery ticket, four white pills and some change from Edward's Chamberlayne apartment, according to a recent report by Mark Holmnerg. They also searched his estranged wife's nearby apartment since he reportedly spent the night with her the night that detectives believe the murder occurred.
Cell phone records place Edwards at Namiranian’s house the night of April 4, and the morning of April 5. Those records also placed him in the area along Interstate 95 North in Hanover, where Namiranian’s cell phone was later found. Her other phone found in a ditch about a mile north.
During questioning, Edwards eventually admitted being at Leyla's house that Wednesday night and Thursday morning. He also admitted to lying to investigators.
Edwards has been taken into custody in Henrico.
His criminal record dates back to 1977. His first prison sentence, at Southampton Correctional Center, began just one month after he turned 16. Details of that conviction were not readily available online. He was convicted in 1990 of stabbing a woman and assaulting her daughter.