A judge has ruled that teenager Kim Edwards can be identified as having killed her mother and sister. But how did their relationship turn from love to loathing?
As the details of the cold and brutal killings of Elizabeth Edwards and her daughter Katie were read out in court, the facts seemed at odds with the slight and seemingly timid teenager sitting in the dock.
Nottingham Crown Court heard how she and her boyfriend Lucas Markham, both aged 14 at the time, had plotted for days to cut their victims’ throats as they slept at the family home in Spalding, Lincolnshire.
A grudge Kim held against her mother – and her bitter resentment of her mother’s close relationship with her sister – was the motivation for the murders, prosecutor Peter Joyce QC said.
But it was not until jurors heard the details of a series of interviews Kim gave to police and psychiatrists that the depth of her hatred was revealed.
“I wanted to get revenge for the way she treated me,” Kim told one psychiatrist.
“I did it because I did not like Mum at all and I did not want her to ruin or corrupt anyone else.
“I did not feel anything for my mother, she deserved it and I’m glad she’s dead.”
She also told detectives: “Ever since I was young I never got on with my mum, she always favoured my sister.”
In the three-person household of 5 Dawson Avenue she felt unwanted, unloved and cut adrift.
The court heard the difficulties between Kim and her mother could be traced back to January 2008 when Mrs Edwards had struck Kim, aged six at the time, in a row over the television.
Mrs Edwards referred herself to social services and Kim and Katie were placed in care for several months.
Social services closed the file on the Edwards family later that same year but Mrs Edwards would later say she believed Kim never truly forgave her.
The issues between Mrs Edwards and her eldest daughter resurfaced in 2013 and lurched from one problem to another over the next three years.
In September 2013, Mrs Edwards told Kim’s teachers her daughter was planning to run away, although by March 2014 she told had them their relationship had improved.
Eight months later Kim told support workers her mother had tried to strangle her, but this was denied by both Mrs Edwards and her sister. In January 2015 Mrs Edwards asked her GP for family therapy.
At the start of 2015 Mrs Edwards arranged an emergency psychiatric appointment after discovering a suicide note left by Kim. Following an assessment, no evidence of mental illness was found, however.
In August of the same year the child and adolescent mental health services in Lincolnshire reported Kim’s relationship with her mother was much better but Kim was feeling left out of the family triangle.
In May of that year, Kim had began her relationship with Lucas. The pair ran away from home in October, before being discovered six days later sleeping rough in woods north of Spalding.
Mrs Edwards disapproved of her daughter’s relationship with Lucas, the court heard.
In the weeks before her death, the churchgoing dinner lady had barred Lucas from her home, forcing the couple to meet in the garden, and had described the couple as “a time-bomb waiting to go off”.
Kim told psychiatrists that by this stage her life had become a “like a living, walking hell”, and in March she tried to kill herself by taking an overdose of painkillers.
The following month the fast deteriorating mother-daughter relationship blew up with murderous consequences.
In court, psychiatrists Dr Philip Joseph and Dr Indranil Chakrabarti attempted to explain what led to the killings.
Dr Joseph, for the prosecution, blamed the toxic “Bonnie and Clyde” relationship between Kim and Lucas. He said Kim had not been suffering from a recognised mental disorder but had been struggling to feel part of the family unit.
“In that triangle she felt very much left out,” he said. “She felt that her mother was very much more attached to her younger sister.”
He said she had told him the family dynamic made her feel unhappy and she was “jealous” of her sister.
She felt the only solution was to kill her mother.
“I was getting rid of the only problem I could see,” Kim had told him.
“I thought it would have been better for my sister to die too.
“I was not killing my sister out of anger, and I miss her, but I was excited about killing my mother and I was looking forward to it.”
Dr Chakrabarti, for the defence, contended Kim had an adjustment disorder and longstanding attachment issues as a result of her strained relationship with her mother.
He said the disorder had been brought on by a series of stressful events, including Lucas being expelled from school and her attempt to kill herself.
He also pointed to a row between Kim and her mother on 9 April in which Mrs Edwards told Kim she would turn out like her father, who had left the family home when she was two years old.
Following the argument, Kim had gone to Lucas’s home and the couple barricaded themselves in his room overnight. When Kim returned home she found her mother had bagged up some of her possessions and given others to her sister.
Kim had told Dr Chakrabarti her mother’s actions had left her feeling like she “did not belong to the family anymore”.
The following day, the court was told, she and Lucas began plotting the killings.
On the night of the murders, Kim let Lucas into the house through the bathroom window.
He had brought a bag of knives with him.
Lucas took one of the knives and crept in to Mrs Edwards room where he stabbed her through the throat – he stabbed her eight times while smothering her with a pillow to stop her screaming out.
He then went in to Katie’s room and stabbed her twice in the neck while she slept.
Following the murders, Kim and Lucas had sex on a mattress in the living room, ate ice cream and settled down to watch the vampire-themed Twilight films.
Over the next day-and-a-half they stayed at the house. They ignored visits from Lucas’s aunt and police officers sent to the property to look for the two teenagers, who by now had been reported missing from school.
It was not until police forced their way into the house through a downstairs window that the couple were discovered.
PC Alistair Pullen, who was the first officer to enter the house, said that when he asked where Mrs Edwards was Lucas “looked at me clean in the eye and said ‘Why don’t you go up and see?'”.
Kim would later tell Dr Joseph: “We felt laid back about what had happened – neither of us felt that bad about it.”
Det Ch Insp Martin Holvey, who led the murder investigation, said: “The actual after-effects are probably the most chilling, the fact of what happened in those 36 hours after and how they carried on as normal, watching TV, watching a film, going upstairs to use the toilet while people are lying upstairs dead; it beggars belief.”
He said he believed the “tragic and unprecedented” killings had been a result of a combination of issues.
“I guess many people through life will say things, especially juveniles, that they don’t mean – ‘I hate you’ or ‘I’m going to kill you’.
“It’s a throwaway comment for many, many people, but this wasn’t, this carried on, and they carried on talking about it over the next few days.”
The whole truth of what happened in the Edwards’ family home will probably never be known.
The jury rejected Kim’s version of events and decided she did not have a psychological condition which would diminish her responsibility.
It leaves only an inescapable, if unpalatable, conclusion – that this 14-year-old girl was so consumed by hatred for her mother, she decided to kill her and her sister as well.
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