The Murderers Next Door
October 25, 2014 2:26 PM   Subscribe

The Edwards were spooked. Christopher stole £10,000 from his employer and they ran away to Lille, De Gaulle’s birthplace. But they couldn’t access the Wycherleys’ account from abroad, Christopher couldn’t find work, and their money ran out. Instead of selling the memorabilia they’d brought with them, in desperation Christopher rang his elderly stepmother, Elizabeth Edwards, confessed to burying Susan’s parents and asked for money to save him and Susan from prison. If the memorabilia hadn’t mattered so much, no one would know today that the Wycherleys were under the lawn. It could have been the perfect crime. But Elizabeth Edwards called the police. The Murderers Next Door.
posted by Ghostride The Whip (17 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. Great link, Ghostride!
posted by JHarris at 3:07 PM on October 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since this took place in Nottinghamshire, I followed the entire thing from the first revelation there were bodies in the garden. The news made it sound like the current owners were just digging around and found them - and I'm actually kinda glad to hear that it was off of a tip from his stepmother instead.

But everything about it is just so weird and creepy and sad.

And while I won't ever have to worry about my children killing me and burying me in the garden (due to not having children and not having enough actual dirt in the garden to be buried in), I have had a neighbour say to me "Oh, I thought you moved away. We haven't seen you in months!" So...yeah.
posted by Katemonkey at 3:19 PM on October 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dude. I'm kinda glad Gary Cooper isn't alive because he'd probably feel a bit weird. That whole news article read like the idea for a Masterpiece Murder episode. I wouldn't have believed it was real.
posted by sio42 at 3:47 PM on October 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Very Ruth Rendell, isn't it? Maybe my math is wrong but isn't there still quite a lot of money unaccounted for? They didn't spend all of it on celebrity tchotchkes--where's the rest?
posted by orrnyereg at 4:27 PM on October 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

I can imagine P.D. James being all over this.

Yes, it does seem odd that there's almost no money left out of all they stole. Sure, they only had one income (Christopher's), but the article says that they lived in a small rented council flat, that they didn't own a car, that they wore "old-fashioned" clothes, that Christopher was a very careful shopper, and that they "looked like they needed money", so they were living very simply and there ought to be more than one suitcase of memorabilia to account for where the rest of the stolen money had gone. Perhaps they left most of the stuff behind on their flight to France?
posted by orange swan at 5:42 PM on October 25, 2014

The other possibility is that they really really overpaid on the movie memorabilia.
posted by drezdn at 6:09 PM on October 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

But everything about it is just so weird and creepy and sad.

It's the maintaining of a fake correspondence with Gérard Depardieu for 14 years that really seals the deal isn't it?
posted by sobarel at 6:41 PM on October 25, 2014 [9 favorites]

That part was just so weird. But also good practice for later making up letters about the goings-on of your dead parents...
posted by sio42 at 7:10 PM on October 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

But they couldn’t access the Wycherleys’ account from abroad, Christopher couldn’t find work, and their money ran out.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 7:12 PM on October 25, 2014

I'm kind of disappointed that they weren't found out by an eccentric and inquisitive old neighbor lady and her incredible grasp of psychology....
posted by happyroach at 8:07 PM on October 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

People's obsessions can make them do all kinds of things, but killing your parents for movie memorabilia seems so banal.
posted by arcticseal at 8:11 PM on October 25, 2014

Yeah, seems crazy, but buried way down the story is this:

They were spending money that didn’t belong to them, but to which Susan felt entitled. Her step-grandmother had left her £10,000 in the 70s, money that had once belonged to Susan’s maternal grandfather and that Susan’s mother believed was rightfully hers. Susan spent half of it on taking her mother to Graceland, and the rest was used to buy her parents’ former home in Edgware, with Susan’s name on the deeds. But in 1986 her parents persuaded Susan to sign away her rights to the house, which they sold at a profit of more than £25,000, using the money to move to Mansfield.

Susan felt she had been cheated out of an inheritance, and this became a slow-burning resentment, a festering grudge.

Hence, more motive than "they wanted to buy stuff so they killed" angle that the Guardian is taking.

What I don't get is why did they flee to De Gaulle's birthplace if not to sell the swag they had concerning him? Maybe they flogged it around town and found they'd paid way too high a price? Such is the "collectibles" game.
posted by telstar at 10:54 PM on October 25, 2014

I can see how the daughter felt bamboozled, but apparently there were no other possible heirs, so it would eventually have been theirs anyway.

As to the fortune, it appears to have been spent buying memorabilia in a scheme to get out of debt, but never really managing to do so. As telstar notes, you can only really do well at this if you are very careful, knowledgeable, and savvy -- otherwise it's just flea market arbitrage. I know someone who's doing well enough as a retired teacher turned collector that he can fund a musical theater program in his hometown with his name on it. But he clearly knows his stuff.

(My own foray into this sort of thing was an ex who loved the thrill of estate auctions. I ended up giving it a try, on her vigorous behest, and somehow bought a pallet of salt-and-pepper shakers in the shapes of mushrooms and flowers, for all the money I brought that day. I decided the whole thing was out of my wheelhouse right then.)
posted by dhartung at 2:10 AM on October 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I dunno, the type of people who would swindle their child out of an inheritance probably weren't the most loving and cherishing of 'rents. Not deserving of murder obviously, but perhaps an indication of how such a relationship could end in that way.

If they'd only have waited a few years Scarabic could've helped them get away with it.
posted by fullerine at 2:38 AM on October 26, 2014

What I don't get is why did they flee to De Gaulle's birthplace if not to sell the swag they had concerning him?

They (or maybe she, it's hard to tell which one of them was precisely the driving force) were obsessed. These acquisitions weren't for investments, they were just to have them. They went to De Gaulle's birthplace to be close to him.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:49 AM on October 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is a small detail, but of all the creepy things about this, the most creepy to me is the fact that both wives were described by neighbors as walking behind their husbands. I'm not sure what to make of it, but it creeped me right out.
posted by lunasol at 8:52 PM on October 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

What a bizarre and fascinating story. I especially caught by the detail of there being no existing pictures of the mother-not sure why, but it just points to such a sad and isolated life.
posted by purenitrous at 8:51 PM on October 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

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