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According to the clip, Balascio and her four siblings were discussing the killing of their adopted brother, “Danny Boy” Edwards, at one family gathering when talk turned to their mom’s hospitalization in 1982.
April Balascio was an adult with three children when she finally sat down to search for answers to a question that had eaten at her for years: Was her father — a charming and violent man, obsessed with crime — capable of something monstrous?
The truth, she eventually learned, was yes.
She connected the dots in part because of her own internet sleuthing, and her dad, Edward Wayne Edwards, was arrested in 2009 after a fateful phone call Balascio made to investigators with what she knew.
Growing up, April Balascio says she always had suspicions about her dad, handyman Edward Wayne Edwards. He was obsessed with murder and detective stories and loved to ingratiate himself with the cops, inserting himself into local investigations wherever they lived.
Stranger still, Edwards would often move his family in the middle of the night without warning — Balascio’s first clue that something wasn’t quite right.
“Kids aren’t stupid,” she tells PEOPLE.
But it wasn’t until 2009, as a 48-year-old mom of three grown children, that Balascio decided to look deeper, sure that she had to act on her nagging concerns.
After searching online for “cold cases” and towns that they’d lived in when she was a child to see if anything stood out, one did: the story of two teens in Watertown, Wisconsin, who had disappeared after a wedding reception in 1980, only to turn up stabbed and strangled three months
One day in 1980, when April Balascio was 11 years old, her father, Edward Wayne Edwards, woke up the household and told his wife and kids to start packing. They were leaving Watertown, Wisconsin, where they’d lived for about a year — and they were leaving immediately.
The scenario wasn’t unfamiliar: The Edwards family was nomadic, roaming from town to town every six months to a year, at their father’s whim, and often without warning.
“He’d tell us the we had to move in secret because he was protecting us, because there were people who wanted to hurt him or us,” Balascio, now 48, tells PEOPLE.
It would be decades before Balascio, beginning with her own online investigation in March 2009, discovered it was her father who was actually running from the law — that the man who walked her down the aisle had also murdered at least five people.
Liz Dunning awoke before her alarm sounded. She knew she would.
She got out of bed at 4:30 Saturday morning and dressed for what was to come, pulling an orange T-shirt over her layers. “RUN LIZZIE RUN,” it said, on front and back. She brewed a pot of coffee, then sat on the kitchen floor to lace up her purple sneakers. Her husband, Paul, leaned down to kiss the top of her head.
“I’m very proud of you,” he whispered.
“Good luck with the guys today,” she said, referring to their sons, ages 3 and 7.
Liz Dunning holds vintage family photos of herself and her mother, Nancy Dunning, who was slain by a serial killer in 2003 in Alexandria. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
“Good luck,” he smiled, “with running a marathon today.”