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Teen’s family relieved to avoid trial in manhunt case

The mother whose teen daughter was involved in a 72-hour manhunt earlier this year spoke out following Mark Edwards’ guilty plea Monday on multiple charges stemming from his relationship with the girl.

“I won’t say I’m happy, but I’m relieved that this isn’t all going to go through court,” Tammy Bruce said.

Edwards, 44, is facing a maximum of 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of interference with custody and one violation of a protection order.

“He finally owned up to his action,” Bruce said.

Edwards and the 14-year-old girl eluded law enforcement for more than 72 hours in late February, going missing just two days before he was scheduled to go on trial for their first disappearance last September.

“I don’t think they knew exactly what they were doing and what the consequences were going to be,” Bruce said.

She said her daughter isn’t blameless. At the time of their second disappearance, Bruce likened her daughter’s relationship with Edwards to being in “a cult.”

“It’s like her little brain has been drilled over and over and over that he loves her. I trusted him. His daughter was my daughter’s best friend. His wife was my friend,” Bruce said during the manhunt.

The girl was recently released from house arrest for her role and meets weekly with her probation officer.

“His life is destroyed,” Bruce said. “Hers is, too, to a point. Yeah, she’s free; but every day, it’s there, and people remind her and stare at her and make comments.”

Now her thoughts are with Edwards’ wife and children.

“You know his family’s got to be struggling the same way we are,” she said.

Bruce plans to be in the courtroom when Edwards is sentenced later this summer.

“I hope he finds peace,” she said.

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