Elderly Conman Confesses He Killed 4 During Career as Motivational Speaker

DNA tests lead to the arrest of conman who was an inspirational speaker.

June 10, 2010— -- An elderly conman who had claimed he gave up his life of crime to be a motivational speaker and author has confessed to murdering four people more than 30 years ago.

Edward Edwards, who was once on the FBI's Most Wanted list, is confined to a wheelchair these days and breathes with the help of an oxygen mask.

The ailing 76-year-old self-described grifter, who is suffering from diabetes, admitted Wednesday that he killed a young couple in 1980. He also agreed to plead guilty on Friday to the murders of an Ohio couple in 1977.

Edwards' attorney, Jeffrey De La Rosa, said he isn't clear what drove his client to kill and said he was unsure if more details surrounding the homicides will ever be made public.

"Whatever he's told me about these cases remains with he and I," De La Rosa told ABC News.

Edwards, originally from Louisville, Ky., was arrested last July after DNA tests connected him to the murders of the Wisconsin couple. Tim Hack and his giflfriend Kelly Drew, both 19, disappeared after attending a friends wedding reception in August 1980.

Their bodies were found weeks later in a wooded area where investigators believe they had been stabbed and strangled.

Edwards first confessed to murder in April when he admitted shooting Bill Lavaco, 21, and Judith Straub, 18, and leaving their bodies in an Akron, Ohio, park in August 1977.

An Ohio grand jury indicted Edwards Wednesday on two counts of aggravated murder in Lavaco and Straub's deaths, and prosecutors said they plan to seek two consecutive life sentences for those murders.

Edwards also signed a deal agreeing to plead guilty to all four homicides and entered his plea to Hack and Drew's deaths in a Wisconsin courtroom. In Wisconsin, he faces two mandatory life sentences.

Edwards practically bragged about his criminal life. In his 1972 autobiography "Metamorphosis of a Criminal," Edwards wrote 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."

Elderly Conman's Twisted Past

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 wrote that he never wore a mask because he wanted to be famous.

In 1961 he made the big time, landing on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List. He was taken off the list after his capture in Atlanta.

Edwards wrote that a guard at the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., turned his life around. When paroled in 1967, he remade himself into an inspirational speaker and eventually married.

In 1980, however, he began working as a handyman at the reception hall where Hack and Drew were last seen. Investigators questioned him shortly after the couple disappeared, and he abruptly left thestate.

He drifted to Pennsylvania where in 1982 he was sentenced to more than two years in prison for arson.

Police in Louisville said he moved into a trailer park on the outskirts of town in 2000. A woman who answered the phone at the trailer home today declined to comment and hung up without identifying herself.

Wisconsin investigators submitted DNA taken from semen found on Drew's pants to state analysts in 2007. They matched it to DNA from Edwards in June 2009, according to court documents. Police have not said what led them to obtain DNA from him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report