Witness : Margot Burns

Margot Burns (first name changed) contacted the author of this site, George Barwood, in August 2019 stating that she had been forced to help Edward Wayne Edwards prepare  a postcard to the San Francisco Chronicle in March 1971. Margot was age 18, pregnant but unmarried. She  was terrorised by Edwards from January to April 1971. Edwards implied that he shot his mother in 1938, confessed to the murders of Elizabeth Short in 1947,  Stephanie Bryan in 1955 and Paul Lee Stine on 11 October, 1969. Many years later he confessed to planting the remains of Laci Peterson in April 2003.

Timeline of events, according to Margot

Background

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Margot, age ~22, in 1974, taken by Darin’s mother in Las Vegas

Margot’s brother, George, attended the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in the Presidio, San Francisco, together with Darin Burns  (first name changed). Margot’s mother had thrown her out of her house in Galt, California, because Margot called her stepfather a SOB. Margot was working in a bakery after school in the evenings for school credits.  Margot’s mother called the bakery owner Mrs. S. and told her Margot was kicked out. Mrs S. took Margot to get her clothes off of her mother’s lawn and took Margot home to live in her house with her family. Mrs S. told Margot her step-father was a SOB. George brought his group of friends to Mrs S.’s house and introduced Margot to Darin. Darin and George both studied Russian and all of the boys were cryptanalysts.

Margot eloped to Reno, Nevada with Darin to get married but when that fell through because she didn’t have the needed documentation they moved into an apartment close to the Presidio. Margot was promised that the marriage was still going to happen. In July 1970 Margot got pregnant, a few days later she realised, told Darin at once, and Darin threw her out the day after she told him. Margot’s oldest brother came and picked her up to take her to her sister Carol’s house.

Around October 1970, Margot moved into a tiny apartment at 1020B S River Road in West Sacramento, converted from half of the garage of the single-storey house where her sister was living with seven children. Margot was not renting from her sister though, it was a rental property in a camp, which had a store where rent was paid. The rent was $50 a month including utilities.

In mid-December 1970, a woman calling herself Lucy moved into the apartment converted from the other half of the garage. The next day Margot met Lucy. That week-end Margot went to Lucy’s apartment for potato gravy and biscuits, and met an Italian-American man who identified himself as John, who later introduced her to Edwards.

1971

Around 1st January 1971, Margot went again to Lucy’s apartment, and believes she was drugged.  Margot: “I was taken to the whorehouse after I was drugged. That was to be where I would be staying, locked away, until I gave birth. I was only taken back to the apartment because I told the madam who my brother* was. She told John she liked me, I was a “good girl”, and was “a keeper”. She told him he should take me home. It was then that I became his “cover girl”. I was later told that other pregnant women were kept there until they gave birth. Then the babies were sold to an attorney in San Francisco. It was John who told me how the babies were gotten and sold.”

* Note: Margot: “It was my brother Norman who the madam was concerned with. He was in the California Highway Patrol and studying law.” ( Added Jan 12, 2020 )

The whorehouse was a three-story Victorian house, but because she was drugged, Margot has no idea where it was, she has looked in vain for it on google maps.

Sometime in January/February, John took Margot to a nearby hotel room where Edward S. Montgomery was staying. John left them together for an hour or two while he took care of some business, and Montgomery told her he was a Pulitzer Prize winner and about the cases of Caryl Chessman, Barbara Graham, and Burton Abbott ( who was executed for Stephanie Bryan’s murder). Montgomery claimed all three were innocent.

In March, Edwards prepared and sent the Pines card. Margot had to help him prepare it. The card was to be hand-delivered to the post office on March 22, 1971. [ This is the same day the “Zodiac Killer leads” article was published in the Akron Beacon journal, in which Edwards anonymously claimed another prisoner at Deer Lodge could be the Zodiac killer ( a copy of the article was found in his papers, which April his daughter had kept  – page 69 in Cameron’s book – John Cameron confirmed that Edwards was the source with his wife Kay, and the journalist ). More details on the Pines card below. ]

On April 7 Carol took Margot to her house as Margot’s baby was due. Margot’s daughter was born the next day at Sutter Memorial Hospital. On April 9 or 10 John came to the hospital. After leaving hospital, Margot was living in the tiny apartment up to May 16, when she married Darin in La Mirada, California.

In mid-September Margot flew to the UK. She transferred to Heathrow by taxi,  then flew to Dundee, Scotland. Darin was stationed at RAF Edzell, Scotland.

Later events

Some time after April 13, 2003, Edwards must have visited Margot and told her how he planted the body of Laci Peterson. Margot has objects in her possession that she never bought, they just appeared:

Margot: “I didn’t know how the things came to be in my possession. Books that I never would have gotten myself. In fact I threw one of the books away after I looked inside it.”

69717255_3469704546380382_4887306078540267520_nEdwards also showed Margot images from Tim Holt comic books explaining how “ED” was on the sleeve of “Red Mask” ( first page), and he was the inker. Margot: “Ed showed me some pictures of paintings Fred Harman had done. They were friends. Ed occasionally did the inking.”

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Around 2005, Margot told her family about how she met “John” and his associates ( although not Edwards ). She didn’t know who “John” was at that stage, she just knew he was mafia, it wasn’t until 2015 that she figured that out.

In 2015, Margot became aware of John Cameron’s investigation ( while searching for information on Burton Abbott – due to Edward S. Montgomery telling her that that Burton Abbott was innocent ). Although when she contacted Cameron she initially had no conscious memory of Edwards, she then remembered a black doctor’s bag Edwards used, and then started to recover memories of Edwards. Edwards appears to have used a combination of inducing extreme fear, drugs and post-hypnotic suggestion to suppress Margot’s memories until after Edwards’ death.

Margot’s medical condition

Margot has PTSD which makes it stressful to recover her memories of Edwards, and a medical condition which means that such stress is even dangerous. She explained to me: “Just the thought of the act of searching back through my mind to when Ed first appeared will cause my adrenaline to soar to the highest levels. I have Adrenal Insufficiency because of the pituitary tumours and radiation treatments. When your adrenaline goes up your body makes Cortisol to bring it back down. My body can’t make the Cortisol. If I can’t take enough replacement of the Cortisol, in pill form or an injection, to bring the adrenaline back down I will go into crisis and die.”

The Death of Edwards’ mother

Edwards told Margot she was a “time-capsule”. He explained to her the circumstances of his mother’s death : “He told me about the gangrene, the red streaks shooting out from it, and how it was red hot to the touch. He told me about her saying, “They Shoot Horses Don’t They” and her crying out in agony,  “It Burns” over and over. He said she was a little woman and then how she couldn’t reach the trigger on the rifle. He then said “You don’t think she could shoot herself in the stomach do you?”

Edwards explained to Margot how “Murray” the name Edwards claimed was his birth surname in his autobiography stood for “Murrey” which is a stain in heraldry, implying his mother was not married, he was a bastard.

[ Note: Edwards was likely born Charles Edward Meyers on May 30, 1928 and not Charles Murray on June 14, 1933, see  Date of Birth ].

The Zodiac Halloween Card

Besides forcing Margot to help him make the Pines card, Edwards also told her about the Zodiac Halloween card sent to Paul Avery. The part that has “By Fire”, “By Gun”, “By Rope”, “By Knife”, etc. he pointed out that the “By” in “by knife” was different and directed downward. The “N” in knife was backwards and “N” is the 14th letter in the alphabet. Backwards that would be 41 which is April 1st ( his mother’s birthday). Combined 4+1 = 5 which is him. And the backwards “N” directs to the opposite page. He explained the reason 5 is him is that “E” is the 5th letter in the alphabet.

Halloween1

The Dripping Pen Card

Edwards explained the “The Bleeding Knife” in a card mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle on November 8, 1969.

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Margot: “Well, that is not a knife. It is a dog tail. Backwards dog = god. Ed said he was god. He said tail = tale. Tale = story. His story = history. History repeats itself starting with his mother. His history is dripping with blood.” “He told me things about the Pen too but I haven’t remembered it yet.”

The Zodiac Pines Card Details

Margot had to help Edwards prepare the postcard sent to the San Francisco Chronicle on March 22, 1971. The card was prepared on the 19th and 20th, Edwards left on the 21st, after telling John to make sure the card was hand delivered to a Post Office in San Francisco the next day.

Margot had to trim the news cuttings and punch the edge to make it serrated.

ZodiacPinesCard

Edwards explained to her the significance of a barely visible snow-covered wagon ( circled in red ) in the Pines card:

ZodiacPinesCardAroundInTheSnowWagonCircled

Edwards’ birth name was Charles, and his middle name was Wayne. Charles’ Wain is  “A bright circumpolar asterism of the northern sky, said to resemble a wagon or cart.” Hence “around in the snow”.  

See here for more discussion of the Pines Card  including the “Three Wise Monkeys” upper left, the “X” on a building just to the left of the closest Pine tree ( spot the difference between the card and the original circular below ), and the positioning and orientation of “Sierra Club” and “around in the snow”.

Three Wise Monkeys is “EE”, “EE”, “EE” ( he made monkey noises ), which is his initials, ( Edward Edwards ).

PinesCardCircular
Circular included in the San Franciso Chronicle on March 19, 1971, used to make the Pines card. Note “Peak through the pines,” which was cut out and stuck on the drawing portion. Margot made a mistake, and cut the “apostrophes” (quotation marks) off, causing Edwards to become so angry that Margot fainted. Edwards had another copy in a black doctor’s bag, which also held newpapers used to cut out the other letters, and other objects Edwards used to terrorise Margot.

More on the Pines card envelope here.

Identification

Although Edwards never told Margot his real name ( he was introduced by John as “Red, the Jack of Diamonds” ), Margot recognises him from photos and recordings of Edwards. In addition Margot remembers many identifying features, such as his tattoo, things he knew, liked, his interests. I have been able to confirm many of these identifying features. This was before she read John Cameron’s book, or started researching Edwards in depth.

Elizabeth Short Confession

Edwards told Margot he murdered 22-year-old Elizabeth Short in Los Angeles in 1947. Edwards called her “Betty” and described her as a “hermaphrodite”, saying she wouldn’t let him have full intercourse with her. The deputy coroner who performed the autopsy noted that Short’s genitalia were apparently too undeveloped to allow for intercourse. (wikipedia). Edwards explained to Margot that he murdered Short because she cheated on him, he lent her money, and she was unable to have children, so she could not “pay him back”. Edwards described the murder in graphic detail.
( See here for more evidence linking Edwards to the murder of Elizabeth Short )

Stephanie Bryan Confession

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Stephanie Bryan

Edwards told Margot he murdered 14-year-old Stephanie Bryan, last seen on April 28, 1955, walking home from school through the parking lot of the Claremont Hotel overlooking San Francisco Bay, for which murder Burton Abbott was executed.

Edwards said Bryan was not killed for “parts of three days”. Edwards said the fragments of green cloth sticking out from the ground were so he would remember exactly where the body was buried. Edwards said the body was buried under a tumbleweed bush. Edwards said Bryan had “saddle shoes” ( an anonymous letter, the “Melody Letter” mentioned this detail also ). Edwards said he really didn’t want to do it but it was a “job”. Edwards said Bryan had “empathy”.

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From District Attorney files, via http://coldcasecameron.com/killers-timeline/1950-1959/

[ Note that although Edwards said a “tumbleweed bush” and the police report says “manzanita bushes” according to here manzanita can “grow into a tumbleweed” ]

Margot told me: “Stephanie Bryan is definitely a difficult and painful part of all of this to have to remember. She was apparently a very precious person. I can’t help thinking about my daughters, granddaughters, my great granddaughter who will soon be that age, and even myself so many years ago. I think of her as a child, vulnerable, naive, and longing to blossom into adulthood. I have to mourn for her for the rest of my life. ” ( Oct 11, 2019 )

Paul Lee Stine Confession

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1969 murder of Paul Lee Stine

Edwards described the murder of  Zodiac killer victim Paul Lee Stine  who was shot and killed on October 11, 1969, in the Presidio Heights neighborhood in San Francisco as an “execution”.

Edwards took Margot to the scene of the crime. Margot: “I can tell you his path after the murder. The building the line is through wasn’t there. He walked to Jackson St., stepped down onto the rock fence, across Pacific, across to the woods, to the baseball diamond, took the lid off of the metal pipe at the baseball diamond and put the breakaway outfit and part of the shirt in the pipe, put the lid back on and went back to the rock fence, and hid in the Ivy on the back of the shed belonging to the house on Jackson St. He watched from there. The police didn’t have a clue that he was going to claim it as a part of his Zodiac Killings. He also told me, “Washington chopped down the Cherry Tree”. I don’t know what that meant.”

Margot: “I remember Ed saying the car rolled some before he could stop it. He killed Paul Stine closer to Washington and Maple…if that means anything.”

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Image sent to me by Margot ( the building wasn’t there in 1969 )

For a summary of the evidence that Edwards was the Zodiac Killer see here.

Laci Peterson Confession

Edwards visited Margot sometime after April 14, 2003. Edwards described in detail to Margot  how the remains of Laci Peterson were planted. Edwards drove, and two men brought a raft with Laci’s remains. [ Note: The type of raft is unclear, may have been a crude home-made raft, or may have been a Zodiac-Nautic inflatable boat . This Feb 2003 news report describes such a boat as a “motorized raft”, “Zodiac-style raft”, “rubber raft” or “raft”. ]

Margot: “He told me about parking the car and walking by the tree, going past the puddle, and taking the walk down to where he could direct how the body was positioned. The raft floated between the two rocks and the body was lifted to the flat rock.”

Edwards told Margot that “Jean Paul” was one of two men who he directed to plant Laci’s remains, and that Jean Paul was paid for his help with “Ice Ice Baby”, i.e. Crystal Meth ( Margot was known as “Baby”, also a reference to a popular song ).

LaciPetersonRecovery
Photo supplied by Margot to illustrate path from parking lot to recovery site

Edwards showed Margot a picture of the site where Laci’s remains were discovered. It was taken from the water, just rocks, no blurred-out-body or body. Margot: “I was told to remember the big rock further out in the water first. Then the smaller rock closer up that was kind of roundish too. There was the flat rock where her body was positioned and her part of a leg was wedged between that rock and the other one. Her arm was placed on the rock that would have been where her top of her head would have been close to, if the head was still there! The “Theater seat” that was facing the ocean was where her other part of her leg was kind of pointing. The other “Theater Seat” was above where her head would have been and it was kind of facing the body but also facing the shore and leaning downward somewhat. The other part of her arm was pointing kind of in the direction of the shore. The “Theater Seats” were emphasised as the scene being a theatrical display although he did not use those words.”

When shown a photo of the recovery scene taken at the time, Margot exclaimed: “Oh my god!!! There is the water puddle!!! I’m shaking!!!
It’s not called a car park over here though.
Omg, omg, omg!!! The puddle!!!!!
Was this picture taken back then? Surely it was. My heart is not palpitating it’s just so happy not stressed.
There’s the tree!!!
Oh boy! You did a good job George. Where did you find this?”

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Photo from http://www.pwc-sii.com/Research/scenes/isabel/location.htm

Edwards said to Margot about Laci “Turned her every which way but loose” [ the title of a 1972 song by Eddie Rabbit, apparently a clue as to the alias Edwards was using ].

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In addition, in 1971, Margot was taken to Tracy Airport and shown a fancy private plane with leather seats. Also Edwards told her he could pilot a plane. He also talked about about “flying under the radar”. This may be relevant, as there was an anonymous “Tracy Tip” in the Scott Peterson case.

Credibility

Over the course of two months exchanging hundreds of messages by Facebook Messenger, I have found Margot to be very consistent and credible. Sometimes I doubted what she was saying, for example that Edwards was born before the date stated in wikipedia, but in every case I found my doubts were unfounded. She also sent me copies of some basic documents such as her marriage certificate, the same day I asked. I have also seen a document showing Margot completed a course of radiation treatment in September 2016. Later, when the question was raised in discussion, she sent me these photos as well:

The fact that she has such detailed knowledge of the Pines card and the Halloween card, plus a history that puts her in the Presidio of San Francisco around the time of the Zodiac killings, and also at Tracy airport, not far from the “Tracy Tip” in the Scott Peterson case, also makes her account highly credible.

George Barwood, October 9, 2019
[ Details on Stephanie Bryan confession added October 10, 2019 ]
[ Laci Peterson confession added October 16, 2019 ]

Facebook post recording the investigation as it developed

Discussion October 17, 2019

Email to Vallejo PD

Email to Scott Peterson Lawyers

Me reading from this page on Facebook Live

Margot Statement