Bodies In The Garden
A web of lies helped a movie-mad couple to hide a brutal double murder
Reading through her letter, Susan Edwards smiled as she scribbled the signature. Gérard Depardieu… Then the special French stamp.
Satisfied, Susan, 54, couldn’t wait to show it to her husband, Christopher, 55 – ripping open the envelope in front of him.
Bizarrely, for 14 years she’d pretended to him that she and French movie star Gérard Depardieu were pen pals.
This was one of many odd things about this movie memorabilia-crazy couple…
Housewife Susan, a former librarian, and her bespectacled hubby, a credit control officer, seemed like an everyday couple.
But a letter arriving in the summer of 2012, for Susan’s dad, Bill, from the Department of Works and Pensions, threatened to blow their world apart.
The DWP had written to Bill Wycherley ahead of his 100th birthday, at the house they believed he shared with his wife, Patricia, in Forest Town – a former colliery village near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. They wanted to reassess his pension and benefits, sending the Edwardses into a tailspin. Now, this letter threatened to expose their darkest secret... For 15 years, they’d been covering up a shocking double murder. Terrified, the pair fled to France. Then, on 1 October 2013, Nottinghamshire Police received a strange call from Christopher’s stepmother, claiming he and his wife had shot Bill and Patricia 15 years earlier, burying them in a Mansfield garden. She’d decided to turn them in after Christopher phoned her from France, asking for financial help.
Strangely, Christopher had also called the cops, leaving a mobile number and e-mail address.
Police searches confirmed there was no evidence the Wycherleys were alive, but their deaths hadn’t been registered either.
The current occupier of the Wycherleys’ old home, Sue Bramley, said she believed they’d moved away.
Another neighbour, John Ward, claimed Christopher had told him they’d moved to Morecambe.
But when police enquiries established the Wycherleys had disappeared in 1998, disturbing evidence started to emerge.
One neighbour recalled being woken in the night by a scratching sound and seeing Christopher up to his waist in a hole he’d dug in the ground.
Police found two bullets in each body, but no weapon
‘He thought it strange at the time, but didn’t report it,’ said Detective Superintendent Rob Griffin, of the East Midlands Major Crime Unit.
On 9 October 2013, armed with ground-penetrating radar, to detect graves and cadaver dogs, cops started digging up the Wycherleys’ former garden.
‘The archaeologist pointed to an area and said, “That is a classic grave,”’ said DS Griffin. ‘Slowly but surely, the bodies of the Wycherleys were revealed.’
For 15 years they’d been wrapped in a duvet, just one metre underground.
Police found two bullets in each body, but no weapon.
Then, on 30 October, Christopher e-mailed DS Griffin, saying he and Susan would surrender to the authorities at the
Eurostar Terminal in Lille, France.
‘They had a suitcase each, packed mainly with memorabilia – signed photographs of people they seemingly adored,’ said DS Griffin, remembering the couple arriving in London.
Interviewed separately back in Nottingham, their stories tallied.
They claimed that, on a bank holiday weekend in May 1998, Susan visited her parents in Mansfield, overhearing them arguing in the night.
After hearing gunfire, she’d found her mother holding a gun in their bedroom, standing over the body of her dead father.
Also rowing with her mum, Susan ended up holding the gun, shooting Patricia more than once.
Returning home to London, she’d then convinced Christopher to accompany her to Mansfield the following weekend.
As they ate fish and chips on the night of the Eurovision Song Contest, she’d told him what had happened, adding that her dead parents were upstairs.
Together, they’d buried the couple in the garden, admitting manslaughter, but not murder.
But cracks soon began to appear in their perfectly crafted story.
Describing the burial, they said one body was ‘stiff ’ and the other ‘flaccid’, indicating rigor mortis had passed.
According to the pathologist though, five to seven days elapsed between the murders and the burials, meaning rigor mortis would have passed for them both.
Also, Christopher emerged as a gun enthusiast and former gun club member.
Cops accounted for some of the weapons he’d owned, but were unable to track down a .38 revolver – the type of weapon used to murder Bill and Patricia.
Yet, the couple insisted Susan had shot her parents, despite her being terrified of firearms.
Still, detectives could not establish a motive for murder.
Bill’s niece, Vivien Steenson, who exchanged frequent letters with her uncle, recalled that he vehemently disliked Christopher.
Still, she’d never suspected he was dead.
Susan had continued to correspond with Vivien and anyone else writing to Bill, on his behalf – claiming he was too decrepit to reply to letters himself. Then it transpired that, on Tuesday 5 May – the day the banks reopened after the double murder – Susan closed her parents’
The couple insisted Susan had shot her parents
She opened a new account in her and her dead motherõs name, first transferring over about £40,000 and then withdrawing the lot.
For the next 15 years, she and Christopher continued taking the Wycherleysõ pension and benefits money, also acquiring credit cards in their name, then selling their house and banking the proceeds.
Altogether, they took around £250,000 Ð incredibly, blowing the lot on memorabilia, including a £7,000 signed photo of Gary Cooper, while living in a top floor, rented council flat in Dagenham, Essex.
Soon, their motive for murder was revealed.
Christopher and Susan had fallen out with the Wycherleys after theyõd forced Susan to remove her name from the deeds of a London house they sold to finance their move to Forest Town Ð something she couldnõt forgive.
In June 2014, the Edwardses stood trial for murder at Nottingham Crown Court.
The court heard how Bill, 85, and Patricia, 63, were shot dead in their bedroom in May 1998.
Found guilty of murder, Susan and Christopher Edwards were sentenced to life, with a minimum of 25 years.
Mrs Justice Kathryn Thirlwall told them: Ôyou are each as responsible as each other for these crimes.õ
And what happened to their memorabilia hoard?
Listed as Susanõs property, it raised just £3,000 when sold under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Christopherõs remaining assets were valued at £17.
As one of their idols, Frank Sinatra, sang... Thatõs Life. ● Watch A Town and Country Murder throughout October only on Crime + Investigation. Saturdays at 3pm and weekdays at 1pm.
Victim Bill Wycherley An actress playing Patricia A bullet found with the buried remains CH
TOPHER EDWARDS SUSAN EDWARDS The couple surrendered via e-mail They splurged on film memorabilia