Edward Edwards, who died in prison in 2011, is a serial killer known for killing five people: Two in Ohio in 1977, two in Wisconsin in 1980 (known as the “Sweetheart Murders”), and one — a child who lived with Edwards and his wife — in Ohio in 1996.
Did he also kill Teresa Halbach and frame Steven Avery for her murder?
That’s a theory that is explored (mostly for guffaws) in this week’s episode of the My Favorite Murder podcast, in which hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark detail the serial-killing life of Ed Edwards.
Here’s the tl;dr version: During the 1950s and 60s, Ed Edwards was responsible for a series of armed robberies and arsons across the nation, for which he spent far too little time in prison given the severity of those crimes. In 1955, he escaped from prison and went on a crime spree until he was eventually added to the FBI’s Most Wanted list. In 1961, he was captured, served several years, and came out a “reformed” man. He even wrote a book about it — The Metamorphosis of a Criminal: The True Life Story of Ed Edwards — appeared on To Tell the Truth and What’s My Line, and worked as a motivational speaker.
He was not, however, a reformed man. In fact, in 1982, he served another two years in prison for arson.
But all of this is small potatoes compared to the murders he committed. In 2000, Wisconsin received a grant to conduct DNA tests on the victims of old cold cases. One of those cases was the murders of Tim Hack and Kelly Drew, known as the Sweetheart Murders because they were killed on their wedding day. Ed Edwards, who served as a carpenter for the wedding location, was questioned in those murders but never arrested, although he and his family picked up and moved away two days after the crimes.
Around the same time that Wisconsin received a grant to investigate old cold cases — including the Sweetheart Murders — memories began to resurface in the mind of Ed Edwards’ daughter, in part due to the fact that one of her siblings recalled that their mother had spent some time in the hospital because Edwards stabbed her in the stomach for eating half a bag of chips. (Don’t just slide over that last sentence. Sit with it a moment). Some of those memories conflicted with the interview that Ed Edwards gave the police in 1980, so a DNA test was conducted, and police arrested Ed Edwards for the murders of Hack and Drew. While in prison, Edwards decided to also confess to the 1977 double homicide, as well as the murder of a 19-year-old who lived with them (he murdered the man, who Edwards had pseudo-adopted, for insurance reasons).
Edwards was eventually convicted and imprisoned in 2011. He died a month later because Lady Justice sometimes forgets to show up for work.
However, after his death, some began to put the timelines together and started to suspect that Ed Edwards was involved in a series of other murders. The detective investigating the Sweetheart murders, for instance, felt confident he was responsible for at least five to seven other murders (or perhaps many more). That conjecture began to take on a life of its own, so much so that Ed Edwards became the Forrest Gump of serial killers: He always seemed to be around during major, unsolved serial killing sprees.
For instance, in documentary footage, he reportedly can be seen in the background at a funeral for one of the victims in the West Memphis 3 killings. He also spent time in Nothern California during the Zodiac killings, and according to his daughter, used to make his children watch documentaries about the Zodiac Killer and often yelled at the TV, “That’s not how it happened.”
Former police detective and cold-case investigator John A. Cameron believes that Edwards may also be responsible for the deaths of Laci Peterson, JonBenet Ramsay, and the Black Dahlia murder (Edwards would have been 13 at the time).
Most interesting, however, was the theory that suggested Edwards had framed Steven Avery for the murder of Theresa Halbach. There are three details that led Cameron to conclude this: Edwards was reportedly only an hour away from Avery’s home on the night that Halbach was killed; Edwards is implicated in other Halloween murders and Halbach went missing on Oct. 31.; and that he can briefly be seen in Making a Murderer.
Is that him? Well, that’s a stretch. Katherine Zellner, Avery’s attorney (who would probably love for this to be true) also doesn’t believe it, as she told Rolling Stone.
“I have had nightmares that make more sense. Edwards would not have had the opportunity to kill Teresa Halbach. She would not have pulled over for him. He did not have her schedule that day to know where she would be at a particular time. … Edwards did not have access to or familiarity with the Avery property to plant the evidence… at age 72, [he] was too old and infirm to have committed this crime. The Edwards theory is a convenient, wishful thinking placebo … and not the hard, cold reality of actually performing the painstaking work necessary to solve a murder.”
John Cameron’s theories, nevertheless, were turned into a documentary series by the Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV), It Was Him: The Many Murders of Ed Edwards. I remain convinced, however, that Steven Avery is guilty as hell based on evidence never presented during Making a Murderer.
Source: My Favorite Murder podcast
Header Image Source: Paramount