A WOMAN and her husband are facing a life sentence after being convicted of murdering her parents and burying them in their own back garden with “cold calculation and meticulousness”.
The bodies of William and Patricia Wycherley lay undiscovered for 15 years until police unearthed them last October from the back garden of their former home in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.
A jury found the couple’s daughter Susan Edwards, 56, and her husband Christopher, 57, guilty of their murders following a two-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court.
The couple showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out and did not acknowledge each other until they stood to leave the dock, when Edwards put his arm round his wife’s shoulders.
The court heard that the debt-ridden couple had murdered her reclusive parents between 1 and 5 May 1998 at their home.
They then raked in £245,000 over the next 15 years by pretending they were still alive. The Edwards emptied bank accounts, collected benefits and pension payments and even sold the Wycherleys’ home, with the bodies buried in the back garden.
Neighbours and relatives were told that Mr and Mrs Wycherley, 85 and 63, had gone travelling or had moved to the coast for health reasons.
Mrs Edwards, a former librarian, wrote Christmas cards and letters to relatives telling them her parents were in Ireland “because of the good air”.
But the Edwards fled to France from their home in Dagenham, Essex, after receiving a letter from the Centenarian Society who wanted to contact Mr Wycherley as what would have been his 100th birthday drew near.
The bodies were unearthed by police at the house, currently occupied by a tenant, last October, after the Edwards ran out of money.
The discovery came after Mr Edwards’ stepmother contacted the police, telling them that her son had asked her for money and told her he had helped his wife to bury her parents in 1998.
The couple were arrested at London’s St Pancras station weeks later after Mr Edwards e-mailed police to “surrender”.
The court heard that the Edwards, who married in 1983, had been in financial difficulties for much of their relationship and remained more than £160,000 in debt.
Despite their debts, the couple spent thousands on film star memorabilia including signed photos and autographs of Hollywood actor and two-time Oscar winner Gary Cooper, as well as crooner Frank Sinatra.
Throughout their trial, they denied murder and claimed that Mrs Edwards had been provoked into killing her mother.Mrs Edwards, who had admitted the manslaughter of Mrs Wycherley, claimed to the jury that she had shot her mother after hearing her shoot her father while staying with her parents over the bank holiday.
She told the court she returned the following weekend with her husband, where she confessed what had happened and he helped her to bury the bodies.
The couple said they continued to claim the dead pair’s pensions only to cover up the shootings.
But a jury of eight women and four men dismissed their “rehearsed” story and took just over six hours to unanimously convict the couple of murder.Following the verdicts, Detective Chief Inspector Rob Griffin, who led the inquiry, said the couple acted with “cold calculation and meticulousness”.
In a statement released through police, Mr Wycherley’s nieces, Hilary Rose and Christine Harford, said of their mother: “Had she been alive now, she would have been horrified by these brutal murders, and the callous treatment of the bodies afterwards.
“Our main priority now is to see that they are finally laid to rest with dignity.”
The judge, Mrs Justice Kathryn Thirlwall, told the Edwards they could expect a life term when they are sentenced on Monday.