AKRON, OH — On June 14, 1933, a child initially named Charles Murray was born to a mother who committed suicide in front of him while he was still just a toddler. Later, he would say that event launched him on a bad path. Given that that boy grew up to be serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards, it’s hard to argue against that notion.
Following his mother’s death, authorities shuffled the young Edwards through a series of orphanages where he said he suffered mental, physical, and sexual torture throughout his childhood.
As a teenager, Edwards took to acting out by breaking the law, regularly getting in and out of trouble with the cops and landing in juvenile detention centers. He joined the Marines briefly, got dishonorably discharged, and oozed into young adulthood as a drifter and a thief.
In 1955, Edwards got popped for a break-in, but he slipped out of jail, and lived as a fugitive until cops nabbed him for a string of armed robberies seven years later.
While doing a five-year stint at Leavenworth, Edwards reinvented himself as an author and a motivational speaker on the topic of prison reform and criminal rehabilitation.
Upon getting sprung in 1967, Edwards emerged as a somewhat successful media personality, regularly getting profiled in newspapers and magazines.
He was even a guest on the TV game show To Tell The Truth in 1972 — an ironic situation due to the truths that Edwards did not tell at that time.
In reality, the author of the best-selling 1972 autobiography The Metamorphosis of a Criminal: The True Life Story of Ed Edwards never actually experienced any “metamorphosis,” except to possibly change for the worse.
Edwards is the prime suspect in a number of unsolved murders that took place in the early 1960s, while on the lam prior to his Leavenworth stretch.Ultimately, Edwards would be convicted and sentenced to death for five murders he committed between 1977 and 1996, but many observers believe his kill tally is frighteningly higher — and perhaps stunningly high profile.
Numerous experts believe Edwards may have actually been the notorious Zodiac Killer who terrorized California between 1968 and ’72. Edwards’ own daughter, whose tip finally led to him getting put away for good, definitely thinks so.
Among the other proponents of Edwards-as-Zodiac is John A. Cameron, a retired Montana police detective who specializes in cold cases and recently authored the book It’s Me, Edward Wayne Edwards, The Serial Killer You Never Heard Of.
In fact, Cameron not only blames the Zodiac murders on Edwards, he also contends that Edwards is behind some of the most familiar murders in the popular consciousness, including:
Cameron’s theories, to say the least, have proven controversial. They’ve also not resulted in any new legal actions … so far.
• “The Black Dahlia,” aka aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, whose mutilated body turned up in a Los Angeles park and whose murder continues to haunt Hollywood (1947)
• Marilyn Reese Sheppard, the wife of Dr. Sam Sheppard. Her death inspired The Fugitive (1954)
• Jimmy Hoffa, missing Teamster Boss (1975)
• Martha Moxley, a Connecticut teenager whose murder case remained open until 2002, when Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was convicted of killing her. Since then, though, Skakel has walked free, and Moxley’s death remains unsolved (1975)
• The West Memphis Three case, in which Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin served 18 years for the murder of three little boys – which many believe they didn’t commit (1993)
• JonBenét Ramsey, the six-year-old beauty pageant queen tortured and murdered on Christmas night (1996)
• Chandra Levy, the D.C. intern of Congressman Gary Condit (2001)
• Teresa Halbach, the Wisconsin photographer whose death is at the center of the documentary series, Making a Murderer. Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are presently incarcerated for her murder (2007)
Whatever truths may come to light, especially now in the age of DNA, Edward Edwards is already a heinous taker of human lives whose own existence took some remarkably strange turns — not the least of which is that he’s flown so far below the cultural radar he’s been nicknamed “The Unknown Serial Killer.”
At present, Edwards is becoming better known as a result of John A. Cameron’s book and media appearances, but at least he’s not around to bask in the attention: Edward Edwards died of natural causes while on Death Row in 2011. He was 77.
For more on Edward Wayne Edwards, watch Investigation Discovery’s People Magazine Investigates: My Father, The Serial Killer on ID GO now!
Recommended For You:
It’s Me, Edward Wayne Edwards, The Serial Killer You Never Heard Of by John A. Cameron
Main photos: Edward Edwards, 1955 mug shot [Akron County Jail]