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(Tribune News Service) — Authorities and surviving family members knew for decades who was responsible for a killing spree that touched western Pennsylvania in 1977-78, but even after 40 years in prison the suspect wouldn't confess.

That changed earlier this year when notorious 1970s serial killer, Aliquippa native and Vietnam War veteran Edward Surratt admitted to slaying six Pennsylvanians, including three Beaver County residents. He also confessed to two murders in Bedford County and one in Fulton County.

Pennsylvania State Police announced on Wednesday that Surratt, now serving two life sentences in Florida, admitted to the killings during a police interview in March. Surratt's confession led to resolutions in four unsolved homicide cases in the state.

The former long-haul trucker confessed to the 1977 slayings of Fallston residents William and Nancy Adams. William Adams, 31, died of a shotgun blast to the chest at home while his wife, Nancy, 29, was kidnapped and killed. William Adams' body was discovered by his 7-year-old child.

Surratt also admitted to killing Baden resident John Shelkons, 56, on Jan. 7, 1978; Joel Krueger, of Bedford County; and Guy and Laura Mills, of Fulton County, on Dec. 31, 1977.

Shelkons and his wife, Catherine, were brutally attacked in their home, leaving John dead and his wife badly beaten, but alive.

The bodies of Guy and Laura Mills, both 65, were discovered around 7 a.m. New Year's Day 1978 in their ransacked Breezewood home. Three hours later, a truck driver found the body of 36-year-old Joel Krueger in a parked car along Interstate 70 about 3 miles from the Mills' home. They were all killed with a shotgun.

Surratt's confessions confirm what law enforcement officials have long suspected. Now 79 years old, Surratt is linked to dozens of late 1970s murders in Ohio and Pennsylvania. He's currently serving two life sentences for violent crimes committed in Florida and was convicted of murder in South Carolina. He was first arrested on July 1, 1978, and has remained in prison since.

Investigators began interviewing Surratt from his prison cell in Raiford, Fla., three years ago, looking for a break in the cold case murders. County prosecutors don't plan to charge Surratt for the crimes given his life sentences in other jurisdictions, state police said.

"PSP investigators never stopped seeking justice for the victims of these terrible crimes and their families," said Lt. Col. Scott Price with the Pennsylvania State Police. "We hope that the confessions announced today will help bring some semblance of closure to the victims' loved ones."

This is the second time in the last two decades Surratt has confessed to further killings. In 2007, he admitted to six killings in Pennsylvania and Ohio, including two in Findlay Township.

John Feeney, 17, was shot to death and his 15-year-old girlfriend, Ranee Gregor, vanished and was never found after the two stopped in a remote township park known as lovers' lane on the evening of Oct. 22, 1977.

Surratt is still a suspect in at least 10 other unsolved homicides in Pennsylvania, Ohio and South Carolina, including two in Moon Township.

The case against Surratt was explored in a 2017 13-part video series by The Times, "Notorious," which went on to win several state awards. The videos can be accessed at timesonline.com.

(c)2021 the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.)

Visit the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.) at www.timesonline.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

A wooden gavel and block is seen inside the Senate Hart Building in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 3, 2015.
A wooden gavel and block is seen inside the Senate Hart Building in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)

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