APNewsBreak: Ky. man convicted of killing 4 in Wis., Ohio, confesses to killing 1 more

JEFFERSON, Wis. (AP) — Edward W. Edwards' admission that he murdered two young couples decades ago in Wisconsin and Ohio only netted him a life behind bars. Now he's aiming for a date with the executioner.

The 77-year-old Kentucky con man told The Associated Press in a jailhouse interview Wednesday that he lured a 24-year-old man he considered a foster son to a secluded cemetery near his home in Burton, Ohio, in June 1996, shot him twice in the chest with a shotgun and buried him in a shallow grave.

"I went on home as if nothing had happened," Edwards said nonchalantly from a wheelchair in Jefferson County jail. "I'm responsible for it. 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."

He said he was confessing to the slaying because his family wants him to come clean about his past and because he'd rather die than spend his remaining years rotting in prison.

It's an attempt at "court-assisted suicide," Geauga County Prosecutor David J. Joyce said.

Edwards only began speaking about Dannie Boy Edwards' death when he realized he wouldn't receive a death sentence for confessing to murdering a young couple in Norton, Ohio, in 1977 or to murdering two 19-year-old sweethearts near Sullivan, Wis., in 1980, Joyce said.

"He wants to dictate where he's brought to. When he couldn't get the death penalty ... suddenly he remembered things about ours," Joyce said.

He said investigators would move cautiously to corroborate claims from a man who admitted he has lied all his life.

Edwards told the AP that he killed Dannie Boy Edwards because he stood to collect some $183,000 in life insurance payments upon his death and because Dannie Boy was stealing from his children. Edwards and his wife, Kay Edwards, had taken Dannie Boy in, and the young man felt close enough to the family that he legally changed his name from Dannie Law Gloeckner.

Edwards pleaded guilty earlier this month to killing William Lavaco, 21, of Doylestown, Ohio, and Judith Straub, 18, of Sterling, Ohio, by shooting each of them in the neck in a Norton park in 1977.

He got two life sentences for those slayings. Ohio has the death penalty, but Edwards wasn't eligible for it because a U.S. Supreme Court ruling invalidated the punishment between 1974 and 1978.

He also pleaded guilty to killing 19-year-old Wisconsin sweethearts Tim Hack and Kelly Drew in 1980. He faces mandatory life sentences when he's sentenced in Jefferson County on Monday.

He said he only killed five people in his life.

"There is nothing else," he said. "His is the last one."

Edwards said he returned to Dannie Boy's grave about a year after the slaying to find animals had torn his head from his body. He said he picked up the skull, stuffed it in a feed sack and hid it. He promised to show prosecutors where if they moved him back to Geauga County.

Authorities found the body in 1997.

Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland said detectives had spoken to Edwards many times about Dannie Boy's death.

"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 said he has a pacemaker, diabetes and can no longer walk, and that he would rather die than live out his last days in prison. He said if sentenced to death, he wouldn't appeal and would fight any efforts to keep him alive.

It's unclear, however, if Edwards would qualify for the death penalty. 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.

Joyce confirmed Edwards collected the insurance money, but many of the details Edwards related about Dannie Boy's demise were public knowledge after the body was found. He said Edwards only began discussing the 1996 slaying with prosecutors recently by phone.

Kay Edwards did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday seeking comment. One of his daughters, Jeannine Davis, of Le Roy, N.Y., said only, "He is my dad and I love him."

Edwards steadfastly refused during the interview to discuss the Wisconsin couple, saying he was scheduled to be sentenced for those slayings on Monday. He did, however, describe for the first time publicly how he killed the Ohio couple.

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. He said he confronted Lavaco at a park in Norton after the bars closed one night, and told Straub to stay in the car while he and Lavaco argued. He said she didn't listen and walked up to them, so he shot them both in the neck with a shotgun.

Straub's brother, Jeff, said he doesn't believe anything Edwards says.

"He's so deceiving it's hard to tell where the truth stops and the BS begins," Straub said.

Edwards spent much of his life running from the law, landing on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list in 1961. In his 1972 autobiography, "Metamorphosis of a Criminal," he wrote 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 wrote that his life turned during a prison stint in Leavenworth, Kan., when a guard persuaded him to turn away from crime. 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.

Edwards said 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.

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Associated Press Writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.