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Edward Edwards (serial killer)

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Edward Edwards
Photograph taken 1959
BornJune 14, 1933
DiedApril 7, 2011(2011-04-07) (aged 77)
Other namesWayne[1]
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)[2] was an American serial killer and former fugitive. 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 his release from prison on parole in 1967, Edwards murdered at least five people between 1977 and 1996. He is suspected of several additional killings.


Edwards was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1933.[3][4] In his autobiography Edwards wrote that he grew up in an orphanage, and that he was abused both physically and emotionally by nuns there.[4][5]

Edwards was allowed out of juvenile detention to join the U.S. Marines, but he eventually went AWOL and was dishonorably discharged.[3] He traveled frequently during his 20s and 30s, working as a ship docker, vacuum cleaner retailer, and handyman, among other assorted jobs.

In 1955, Edwards escaped from a jail in Akron and drifted around the country robbing gas stations.[4][5] He wrote that he never disguised himself during these crimes because he wanted to be famous.[5] After spending several years as a fugitive, he was placed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list in 1961 following a 1960 escape from a Portland, Oregon, jail,[4][5][6] where he had been held on suspicion of impersonating a Federal Officer.[7] After his 1962 capture, he was imprisoned in USP 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.[5]

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.[5]

Between 1974 and 2009, when not incarcerated, Edwards lived in more than a dozen different states using many false names, according to his daughter April. [8]

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.[9]

Known murders[edit]

The first murders for which Edwards was convicted took place in Ohio in 1977. William "Billy" Lavaco, 21, of Doylestown, Ohio, and his girlfriend Judith Straub, 18, of Sterling, Ohio, had been dating eight months when Straub's car was found in the parking lot of Silver Creek Metro park in Norton, on August 7, 1977, with her purse and shoes inside.[10] Family members gathered in the lot the next day as Norton police, aided by a National Guard helicopter, searched the high weeds. There, they found Lavaco and Straub, lying on the ground, shot at point-blank range with a 20-gauge shotgun. He received life sentences for these crimes in 2010.[11]

The second pair of murders, another double homicide, occurred in Concord, Wisconsin, in 1980, when a 19 year old couple from Jefferson, Wisconsin, Tim Hack and Kelly Drew, were stabbed and strangled.[10] These are 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.[5][12] Edwards' own child, April Balascio, tipped off police about his possible involvement.[4][13]

Edwards confessed to the 1996 murder of his foster son, 25-year-old Dannie Boy Edwards in Burton, Ohio. The victim had lived with Edwards and his family for several years. Dannie's original name was Dannie Law Gloeckner.[13] Edwards murdered Gloeckner in a scheme to collect $250,000 insurance money. Dannie Boy, a soldier in the U.S. Army, was persuaded by Edwards to go AWOL from the Army and taken by him to the woods near his house in Burton, Ohio. There, Edwards shot him twice in the face, killing him, and left his body in a shallow grave, where it was later discovered by a hunter. Edwards was sentenced to death for this crime in March 2011. He died in prison of natural causes a month later.[11]

Arrest and conviction[edit]

In 2009, Edwards was arrested for murder in Louisville, Kentucky. Neighbors described him as pleasant and neighborly.[14] In 2010, he pleaded guilty to the murders of Billy Lavaco and Judith Straub, in Norton, Ohio; and Tim Hack and Kelly Drew, in Concord, Wisconsin.[10]

Soon after, in a jailhouse interview, Edwards confessed to killing his foster son, Dannie Law Gloeckner, 25.[15][16] In 2011, he was sentenced to death for that killing.[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]

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.[21] Two men were arrested and imprisoned for these murders, but released from prison early. Authorities maintain that the correct persons were prosecuted.[13]

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.[22]

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.[23] However, his claims have proven highly controversial.

In media[edit]

In October 1972, Edwards appeared on the television game show To Tell The Truth,[24] claiming to be reformed and denying having committed any murders.

A former police detective and cold case investigator, J.A. Cameron published a true crime book It's Me – Edward Wayne Edwards, the serial killer you never heard of, in 2014, claiming that along with other murders Edwards hadn't confessed to, that Edwards was the Zodiac Killer.[25][26] The book and Cameron's claims were "met with almost universal disdain, especially from law enforcement".[27]

In 2017, A&E broadcast a program[28] describing the murders of Tim Hack and Kelly Drew.[29]

In 2018 Investigation Discovery broadcast an episode titled 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.[30] 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!"[31] In the episode she affirmed that she thought her father was also the Zodiac Killer.[32]

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 had 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 e‑mail 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.[27]

He features in a 2019 true crime podcast called The Clearing. 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.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Podcast: The Clearing
  2. ^ "1933-1949". Cold Case Cameron. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Edward Wayne Edwards: A timeline of his life". Madison.com. June 9, 2010. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "WANTED". The Warren County Observer. November 16, 1961. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  7. ^ "EDWARD WAYNE EDWARDS ON MOST WANTED LIT BY FBI". The Sidney Herald. November 15, 1961. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  8. ^ Cameron, John A. (2014). IT'S ME: Edward Wayne Edwards, the Serial Killer You Never Heard Of (First ed.). Santa Rosa, California: Golden Door Press. pp. 76–79. ISBN 9781885793058. OCLC 885329017.
  9. ^ Cameron, pp. 125–129
  10. ^ a b c "Convicted Killer Pleads Guilty to Slaying a Norton Couple in 1977". WOIO (19 News). July 11, 2010. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  11. ^ a b "US serial killer Edward Edwards, 77, pleads for death". news.com.au. March 9, 2011. Archived from the original on March 12, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ English, Lindsay (July 31, 2009). "Louisville man arrested in Wisconsin cold-case double murder". WAVE 3 News.
  15. ^ VIDEO: AP Interview Part 1 Edward Edwards Confession, June 17, 2010, retrieved October 28, 2019
  16. ^ "Convicted murderer Edward Edwards confesses to killing foster son". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Associated Press. June 17, 2010. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  17. ^ Sangiacomo, Michael (March 8, 2011). "Serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards sentenced to death in Geauga County slaying". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  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. Archived from the original on January 11, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  20. ^ Sangiacomo, Michael (April 8, 2011). "Convicted serial killer Edward Edwards dies in prison, avoiding execution". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  21. ^ Redden, Jim (October 27, 2010). "After 50 years, murders still a mystery". Portland Tribune. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  22. ^ Zoellner, Alexa (March 16, 2017). "Hack-Drew case on A&E tonight". Daily Jefferson County Union. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  23. ^ McDonell-Parry, Amelie (April 24, 2018). "Inside One Man's Serial-Killer Unification Theory". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  24. ^ Telling, Gillian. "Serial Killer Edward Edwards Was a Game Show Contestant Years Before Daughter Turned Him In". People. Retrieved April 10, 2023.
  25. ^ Cameron, John A. (2014). It's Me – Edward Wayne Edwards, the serial killer you never heard of. Golden Door Press. ISBN 978-188579303-4.
  26. ^ It's me – Edward Wayne Edwards, the serial killer you never heard of. GoodReads (book review). January 14, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  27. ^ a b McDonell-Parry, Amelia (April 24, 2018). "Inside one man's serial-killer unification theory". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  28. ^ "Sweethearts, silenced". Cold Case Files (2017-) (TV program). Season 1. Episode 01.04. March 2017. A&E – via IMDb.
  29. ^ "Hack-Drew case on A&E tonight". Daily Jefferson County Union. March 16, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  30. ^ "My father the serial killer". Investigation Discovery, People Magazine Investigates ("true crime" TV program). January 15, 2018.
  31. ^ "Daughter recalls serial-killer father in People magazine". Daily Jefferson County Union. January 14, 2018. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  32. ^ she replied (TV episode clip) – via facebook.com. [user-generated source]
  33. ^ Quah, Nicholas (July 2019). The Clearing follows one woman as she discovers her father's murderous past. vulture.com (podcast). The Clearing. Pineapple Street Media, in association with Gimlet Media. Retrieved July 25, 2019. True crime