AKRON, Ohio – AKRON, Ohio (AP) — For the second time this week, an aging con man criminal pleaded guilty to a three-decade-old double murder.
Edward Edwards, 76, pleaded guilty Friday to killing a young Ohio couple near Akron in 1977, two days after he pleaded guilty in Wisconsin to killing a young couple there.
Edwards was sentenced to two life terms in Ohio. He will be sentenced later in Wisconsin but must first serve his sentence in Ohio, where he won't be eligible for parole consideration until he is 97.
He sat stone-faced and cuffed to his wheelchair during a one-hour plea hearing marked with a review of the charges, his plea agreement and emotion-charged statements from relatives of the victims.
The Ohio victims, Judith Straub, 18, of Sterling, and Bill Lavaco, 21, of Doylestown, were shot in the neck at close range in August 1977.
Edwards stroked his forehead with his right forefinger and occasionally repositioned his cuffed left hand as Straub's brother spoke about missed holidays without his sister.
"Judy was my older sister and friend," Jeff Straub said. "I never actually got to say goodbye."
Lavaco's sister, Kathy Cardinal, sobbed and shook uncontrollably as her statement directed as Edwards was read in court by a victim's advocate.
"I miss him so much. He took that from me," she wrote.
Edwards responded to questions about the proceedings from Judge Thomas Teodosio with one or two words. He turned down a chance to address the court before he was sentenced.
Officers from Wisconsin were in the courtroom to take him back for his sentencing in the two other murders.
Edwards, of Louisville, Ky., was arrested in July after DNA connected him to the deaths of Tim Hack and his girlfriend, Kelly Drew, two 19-year-olds who disappeared from a Wisconsin wedding reception in August 1980. Their bodies were found weeks later in the woods.
In April, he confessed to Ohio authorities that he also shot Lavaco and Straub.
Born in Akron in 1933, Edwards wrote in his 1972 autobiography "Metamorphosis of a Criminal" that he spent his early years being beaten by nuns in an orphanage. When a nun asked him what he wanted to be, he told her, "Sister, I'm gonna be a crook, and I'm gonna be a good one."
According to his book, he escaped from jail in Akron in 1955 by pushing past a guard and fled across the country, holding up gas stations for money. He never wore a mask because he wanted to be famous.
In 1961 he landed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. He eventually was captured in Atlanta.
Edwards suffers from diabetes, needs a wheelchair and often showed up at court hearings hooked to an oxygen tank. He's been getting medical treatment at a state prison in Waupun, Wis.