May 4th, 2010
05:05 PM ET

Ohio police: Man confesses to 1977 cold-case double homicde






Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

A man who wrote about his life as a career criminal in his autobiography has confessed to a 33-year-old double homicide, authorities in Ohio said Tuesday.

Edward W. Edwards, 76, who is awaiting trial on murder charges in a separate case in Wisconsin, admitted killing a young Ohio couple in 1977, the Summit County prosecutor's office and the Norton, Ohio, police department announced in a statement.

According to police and prosecutors, Edwards said he killed William Lavaco, 21, and Judith Straub, 18. Their bodies were found in a Sterling, Ohio, park on August 8, 1977. Police said the couple had been shot point-blank in the neck with a 20-gauge shotgun.

Jeff Straub, who was 9 years old when his sister was killed, said he waited decades for this day. "After the first ten years it was very improbable that there was ever going to be any justice in this case," Straub told CNN. "But I never completely gave up hope for Judy's sake."

Authorities said charges have not yet been filed against Edwards in the case as they are "reviewing their options" and have asked the public for help with information.

Detectives are trying to corroborate Edwards' confession, Norton Police Chief Thad Hete told CNN .

"Our investigators have taken the evidence that was retrieved from the crime scene in 1977 and are meeting with the crime lab to see if they can extract some DNA that matches that of Edwards," Hete said.

Years of not knowing who killed his sister haunted him and his family, Jeff Straub said.

"You knew the killer was out there and you didn't know where," he said. "I wondered they could possibly be here in the same store or driving down the same street. You just wonder could that be the person that possibly killed my sister?"

Chief Hete said his investigation is in its earliest stages. "We're nowhere near the finish line in this case," Hete said. "His admissions and his statements will be looked at thoroughly. For peace of mind, it's imperative that we exhaust all our resources."

Edwards wrote an autobiography in 1972 titled, "Metamorphosis of a Criminal: The True Life Story of Ed Edwards." The book chronicled his criminal activities, which included robbery, theft and arson, according to police.

He is awaiting trial in Wisconsin in June for the 1980 slayings of two 19-year-olds, whose bodies were found in a cornfield, authorities said.

While Edwards is getting attention, Jeff Straub wants people to know about and remember his sister Judy.

"This subject, he's getting a lot of publicity now and telling his side of the story, but Judy can't be here so I have to be strong and represent her ... so that she would be proud of me," Straub said.

"She was an all-American girl. She had blond hair, blue eyes, very pretty girl," Straub said. "At the funeral I remember people were lined up out the door and down the street."

"Everybody loved her, I had never heard anybody say a bad word about her," he said, adding that he "couldn't ask for a sister you could be more proud of."

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
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