Edward Edwards (serial killer)

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Edward Edwards
FBI's 1961 Ten Most Wanted mugshot
BornJune 14, 1933
DiedApril 7, 2011(2011-04-07) (aged 77)
Criminal penaltyDeath
Victims5 confirmed, 9–15+ suspected
Span of crimes
CountryUnited States
State(s)Wisconsin, Ohio
Date apprehended

Edward Wayne Edwards (June 14, 1933 – April 7, 2011)[1] was a convicted American serial killer. Edwards escaped from jail in Akron, Ohio in 1955 and fled across the country, holding up gas stations. By 1961, he was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

Edwards was captured and arrested in Atlanta, Georgia on January 20, 1962. After he was granted parole in 1967, Edwards murdered at least five people between 1977 and 1996, and he is suspected of several additional killings.


Edwards was born in Akron, Ohio in 1933.[2][3] In his autobiography Edwards wrote that he grew up in an orphanage, and that he was abused both physically and emotionally by nuns there.[3][4]

Edwards was allowed out of juvenile detention to join the U.S. Marines, but he eventually went AWOL and was dishonorably discharged.[2] He traveled frequently during his 20s and 30s, working assorted jobs such as working as a ship docker, vacuum cleaner retailer and handyman.

In 1955, Edwards escaped from a jail in Akron and drifted around the country robbing gas stations.[3][4] He wrote that he never disguised himself during crimes because he wanted to be famous.[4] He was placed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list in 1961.[3][4] After his 1962 capture, he was imprisoned in Leavenworth, from which he was paroled in 1967. Edwards claimed that the influence of a benevolent guard at Leavenworth reformed him. He married and became a motivational speaker.[4]

Edwards appeared on two television shows, To Tell the Truth (1972) and What's My Line? He wrote an autobiography, The Metamorphosis of a Criminal: The True Life Story of Ed Edwards, in 1972. By 1982 he had returned to crime, and was imprisoned in Pennsylvania for two years for arson.[4]

Between 1974 and 2009, Edwards lived in more than a dozen different states when not incarcerated, according to his daughter April, using many false names.[5]

In a 1993 letter to the FBI found in his papers, Edwards requested his criminal and history records for cities in 19 States, claimed that J. Edgar Hoover "more or less gave me permission to proceed" with his 1972 autobiography "after I assured him there was nothing in it bad about the FBI" and he was writing a new book about criminals he met while incarcerated, such as Tony Provenzano, Charles Manson and Jimmy Hoffa.[6]

Arrest and conviction[edit]

In 2009, Edwards was arrested for murder in Louisville, Kentucky. Neighbors described him as pleasant and neighborly.[7] In 2010, he pleaded guilty to the murders of Billy Lavaco, 21, of Doylestown, Judith Straub, 18, of Sterling, Ohio, Tim Hack, 19, and Kelly Drew, 19, both of Jefferson, Wisconsin.[8]

Soon after, in a jailhouse interview, Edwards confessed to killing Dannie Law Gloeckner, 25.[9][10] In 2011, he was sentenced to death for that killing.[11]

Known murders[edit]

The first murders for which Edwards was convicted, of Billy Lavaco and Judy Straub, took place in Ohio in 1977. He received life sentences for these crimes in 2010.[12]

The second pair of murders, another double homicide, occurred in Concord, Wisconsin in 1980 when Tim Hack and Kelly Drew were stabbed and strangled. These were referred to as the "Sweetheart Murders." Edwards had been questioned at the time, but there was no basis to hold him. Almost 29 years later, his connection to the crime was established by means of DNA testing.[4][13] Edwards' own child, April Balascio, tipped off police about his possible involvement.[3][14]

Edwards confessed to the 1996 murder of 25-year-old Dannie Boy Edwards in Burton, Ohio. The victim had lived with Edwards and his family for several years as an unofficial adopted son. Dannie's original name was Dannie Law Gloeckner.[14] Edwards murdered Gloeckner in a scheme to collect insurance money. Edwards was sentenced to death for this crime in March 2011. He died in prison of natural causes a month later.[12]

Other possible murders[edit]

According to Phil Stanford in his book The Peyton-Allan Files, Edwards may have been responsible for the murders of Beverly Allan and Larry Peyton in Portland, Oregon, in 1960.[15] Two men were arrested and imprisoned for these murders, but released from prison early. Authorities maintain that the correct persons were prosecuted.[14]

In March 2017, Detective Chad Garcia of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office who was in charge of the "Sweetheart Murders" case described how the murders of Hack and Drew were solved following a tip off from Edwards' daughter. Garcia said he was "pretty confident" there are at least five to seven more murders Edwards committed and "who knows beyond that." He gave a list of 15 confirmed and suspected victims, adding that he was less sure Edwards was involved in the Zodiac killings.[16]

Retired homicide detective John Cameron speculated that Edwards was responsible for several high-profile cases, including the Zodiac killings in the Bay Area of California and the murder of JonBenét Ramsey.[17]


Edwards died of natural causes at the Corrections Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio on April 7, 2011, avoiding execution by lethal injection set for August 31.[18][19][20]

In media[edit]

In October 1972, Edwards appeared on the television game show To Tell The Truth, claiming to be reformed and denying having committed any murders.

In 2014, Golden Door Press published It's Me, Edward Wayne Edwards, the Serial Killer You Never Heard Of, by former police detective and cold case investigator John A. Cameron.[21] The book and Cameron's claims were "met with almost universal disdain, especially from law enforcement".[22]

In March 2017, A&E broadcast a Cold Case Files episode[23] about the murders of Tim Hack and Kelly Drew.[24]

On January 15, 2018, Investigation Discovery broadcast a documentary called People Magazine Investigates — My Father, the Serial Killer which tells the story of how Edwards' daughter realized her father had committed the so-called "Sweetheart Murders" and tipped off authorities, leading to his arrest and conviction.[25] The daughter told People that Edwards had a dark side, verbally and physically abusing her mother Kay, and making the children watch videos about the Zodiac Killer while screaming, “that's not how it happened!”[26] When asked by Wayne Edwards "Do you think your Dad was the Zodiac Killer?" she replied, "I do".[27]

In April 2018, A&E aired a six part series, It Was Him: The Many Murders of Ed Edwards. According to an article in Rolling Stone by Amelia Mcdonell-Parry, Larry Harnish, who has also researched the Black Dahlia case, ridiculed Cameron's use of a website which Cameron believes was authored by Edwards; Cameron's efforts to reach out to Kathleen Zellner, attorney for Steven Avery, were unsuccessful, but in an email Zellner doubted that Edwards could have murdered Teresa Halbach, while citing no evidence which definitively excluded him; Mcdonell-Parry claimed that Cameron embellished his theories in the A&E documentary, citing a lack of evidence that the Zodiac Killer's hood was made of leather, but also noted that Detective Chad Garcia agreed that Edwards had committed more than the five murders for which he was convicted.[22]

In July 2019, Pineapple Street Media, in association with Gimlet Media, launched a podcast called The Clearing about Edward Wayne Edwards. The podcast story starts with the moment Edwards' daughter April Balascio realises her father might be involved in the "Sweetheart Murders" and includes what came after, as well as delves into Edwards' past by way of Balascio's memories.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "1933-1949". Cold Case Cameron. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Edward Wayne Edwards: A timeline of his life". Madison.com. June 9, 2010. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Edward Edwards, convicted killer of 5, dies of natural causes in Ohio prison". Wisconsin State Journal. April 8, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Andreadis, Cleopatra (June 10, 2010). "Elderly Conman Confesses He Killed 4 During Career as Motivational Speaker". ABC News. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  5. ^ Cameron, John A. (February 15, 2014). It's me! : Edward Wayne Edwards ; the serial killer you never heard of (First ed.). Santa Rosa, CA. pp. 76–79. ISBN 9781885793058. OCLC 885329017.
  6. ^ Cameron, John A (2014). It's me!: Edward Wayne Edwards ; the serial killer you never heard of. pp. 125–129. ISBN 9781885793058. OCLC 885329017.
  7. ^ "Louisville man arrested in Wisconsin cold-case double murder".
  8. ^ "Convicted Killer Pleads Guilty to Slaying a Norton Couple in 1977". WOIO (19 News). Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  9. ^ VIDEO: AP Interview Part 1 Edward Edwards Confession 6/17/2010, retrieved October 28, 2019
  10. ^ "Convicted murderer Edward Edwards confesses to killing foster son". cleveland. Associated Press. June 17, 2010. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  11. ^ Sangiacomo, Michael (March 8, 2011). "Serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards sentenced to death in Geauga County slaying". cleveland. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  12. ^ a b "US serial killer Edward Edwards, 77, pleads for death". news.com.au. March 9, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
  13. ^ English, Lindsay (July 31, 2009). "Louisville man arrested in Wisconsin cold case double murder". WAVE. Archived from the original on January 29, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c Whisner, Ryan (April 8, 2011). "UPDATE: Hack-Drew murderer dead of natural causes". Daily Union. Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  15. ^ Redden, Jim (October 27, 2010). "After 50 years, murders still a mystery". Portland Tribune. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  16. ^ Zoellner, Alexa (March 16, 2017). "Hack-Drew case on A&E tonight". Daily Jefferson County Union. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  17. ^ McDonell-Parry, Amelie (April 24, 2018). "Inside One Man's Serial-Killer Unification Theory". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  18. ^ Gazaway, Charles (April 8, 2011). "Confessed serial killer dies in prison". WAVE. Archived from the original on January 29, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  19. ^ Brueck, Dana (April 8, 2011). "UPDATE: Edward Edwards Dead". nbc15.com. WMTV. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  20. ^ Sangiacomo, Michael (April 8, 2011). "Convicted serial killer Edward Edwards dies in prison, avoiding execution". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  21. ^ "IT'S ME, Edward Wayne Edwards, the Serial Killer You Never Heard Of". GoodReads. January 14, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  22. ^ a b McDonell-Parry, Amelia (April 24, 2018). "Inside One Man's Serial-Killer Unification Theory". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  23. ^ "Cold Case Files (2017-)" "Sweethearts, Silenced" (Season 1, Episode 4)
  24. ^ "Hack-Drew case on A&E tonight". Daily Jefferson County Union. March 16, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  25. ^ "Investigation Discovery, People Magazine Investigates - My Father the Serial Killer"
  26. ^ "Daughter recalls serial-killer father in People magazine". Daily Jefferson County Union. January 14, 2018. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  27. ^ https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=445464999271515 she replied
  28. ^ Quah, Nicholas. "True Crime Podcast The Clearing Follows One Woman As She Discovers Her Father's Murderous Past". vulture.com. Retrieved July 25, 2019.