An elderly Kentucky con man convicted of killing two young couples in Wisconsin and Ohio decades ago claims he also killed a 24-year-old man he considered a foster son in an Ohio cemetery 14 years ago.
In a jailhouse interview with The Associated Press, Edward W. Edwards, 77, said he and his wife, Kay Edwards, took Dannie Boy Edwards into their home in Burton, Ohio, in the mid-1990s. The young man legally changed his name in 1996 from Dannie Law Gloeckner to Dannie Boy Edwards.
Edwards said Dannie Boy wore out his welcome by stealing credit cards and other things from his children, and that he stood to make some $183,000 in life insurance benefits if Dannie Boy died. So he said he lured Dannie Boy to a secluded cemetery near their home in June 1996 and shot him twice in the chest with a 20-gauge shotgun. He said he buried the body in a shallow grave nearby.
"I'm responsible for it," Edwards said. "It didn't work on my conscience. I spent the money. I was having a good time. ... you do it, forget it was done and go about your business until next time."
Slaying remains unsolved
Authorities found the body in 1997. The slaying remains unsolved.
Geauga County (Ohio) Sheriff's Chief Deputy Scott Hildenbrand said investigators don't want to disclose details of their investigation, and he declined to say whether Edwards in fact collected the insurance money.
Sheriff Dan McClelland said investigators have spoken to Edwards many times about Dannie Boy's death and they were still trying to corroborate his story. Edwards is in custody and doesn't present a threat, he said.
"Each time he talks, we get a sliver more. You get enough of those slivers, pretty soon you have a lot of information," McClelland said.
Edwards, who was living in Louisville, Ky., when he was arrested in July 2009, said he's confessing to the slaying now because he wants to be sentenced to death in Ohio, even though prosecutors haven't charged him in that slaying. He said he has been a liar all his life, but he was telling the truth about Dannie Boy because his family urged him to come clean about everything he's done.
He said he's killed only five people.
"There is nothing else," he said. "His is the last one."
He said he hoped the confession would pressure prosecutors to bring charges. He said he'd rather be executed than languish in prison.
In a deal with prosecutors in Wisconsin and Ohio, Edwards pleaded guilty earlier this month to killing William Lavaco, 21, of Doylestown, Ohio, and Judith Straub, 18, of Sterling, Ohio, in 1977. He also pleaded guilty to killing 19-year-old Wisconsin sweethearts Tim Hack and Kelly Drew in 1980.
Edwards faces two mandatory terms of life in prison when he's sentenced Monday in Jefferson County for the Wisconsin murders. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.
Ineligible for execution
A Summit County, Ohio, judge last week sentenced Edwards to two life terms. Homicide is a capital crime in Ohio, but a U.S. Supreme Court ruling invalidated the state's death penalty statutes between 1974 and 1978, making Edwards ineligible for execution.
It's unclear whether Edwards could be sentenced to death if convicted of murdering Dannie Boy Edwards. To recommend a death sentence, Ohio juries must find offenders guilty of a serious secondary offense — such as rape, arson or aggravated robbery — in addition to aggravated murder. Judges have the final say and almost always follow the jury's recommendation.
During the interview, Edwards described for the first time publicly how he killed the Ohio couple, although he steadfastly refused to discuss why and how he killed the Wisconsin couple, saying he was scheduled to be sentenced for those slayings on Monday.
Edwards said he met Lavaco at "beer bashes" Edwards held at the family's farm near Doylestown, Ohio, and that at some point, he decided to kill him at a park Lavaco frequented where young lovers often went. He said he found Lavaco there after the bars closed one night, and was surprised Straub was with him, although he said he shouldn't have been surprised.
He said he told Straub to stay in the car as he argued with Lavaco, but she walked up to where they were arguing, so he shot them both in the neck with a shotgun.
Before any of the five killings, Edwards documented his life of crime in a 1972 autobiography, "Metamorphosis of a Criminal." He spent the 1950s and early 1960s drifting across the country, stealing cars, robbing banks and gas stations and seducing women he met along the way.
He landed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list in 1961. FBI agents captured him in Atlanta in 1962.
He did a stint in federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., where he claims a guard persuaded him to clean up his life. After he was paroled from the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., in 1967, he embarked on a speaking tour to persuade young people to avoid crime.
"Don't be a crime victim," he wrote in the book. "Be a crime stopper."
Sitting in a wheelchair in the Jefferson County Jail's multipurpose room, Edwards told the AP the publisher embellished most of his story, but he did intend to go straight.
"Don't ask me where I went wrong," he said. "So much for good intentions."