For the first time, details of the conversation double murderer Christopher Edwards had with exiled police officers in France, before he turned himself over to British border forces, have been revealed.
Retired Mansfield Police Officer Brian Costello was on duty in October 2013 when he was tasked with investigating a phone call that arrived overnight after a woman contacted police from the City of London to say that her stepson had been in contact.
Edwards, along with his wife Susan, had vanished without a trace nine months earlier after ‘borrowing’ £ 10,000 from his employers.
Register now to our daily newsletter
Newsletter cut through the noise
Actor David Thewlis playing Christopher Edwards in new drama Landscapers
Employers, unsurprisingly, had reported him missing after he failed to show up for work, along with his stepmother Elizabeth Edwards, despite being unable to reach him.
When Christopher finally called Elizabeth, after there had been no word for months begging for money, he confessed that there were two bodies buried under the garden of a house in Forest Town, Mansfield, that they had been there for 15 years, and that Susan was involved.
It would later appear that Christopher Edwards had slaughtered his in-laws in cold blood at their home in Blenheim Close in 1998, spurred on by Susan, and had kept the elderly couple “alive in the eyes of the world” for. a decade and a half with a complex web of lies.
Mansfield Police Officer Brian Costello before his retirement
Following Brian’s investigations, the case was turned over to the East Midlands Major Crime Unit, and specialist officers descended on the property, where the skeletal remains of William and Patricia Wycherley were exhumed.
But in conversations with her mother and later with Brian, Christopher recounted the well-prepared version of events that would later become their defense – that Susan had visited her parents, that she had been woken up in the middle of the night by two loud bangs, that she had rushed into her parents’ room to find her father lying dead on the floor with her mother standing above him with a smoking gun in her hand.
Susan then snatched the gun from Patricia, shooting her twice, before fooling Christopher the following weekend to help him dispose of the bodies.
Brian, 55, of Bilsthorpe, told Chad: “I was on a day shift as a response officer at Mansfield Police Station and everything that had happened that night was prepared for examination. .
The real Susan and Christopher Edwards after their arrest
“I was given a job that came from the City of London Police, which was handed over to us. A woman called Elizabeth Edwards had been in touch to say that her stepson Christopher had called her from somewhere in France.
“He told her he was living in fear of Susan because she admitted to being involved in her parents’ deaths.
“He said Susan initially told him that they were both invited to stay with her parents the following weekend, and it wasn’t until she put the key in the front door that ‘she told him that her parents were dead upstairs, wrapped in a quilt.
Brian then forwarded his contacts to Elizabeth and told her to give them to Christopher if he called again and ask him to make contact.
David Thewlis and Olivia Colman as Susan and Christopher Edwards in new drama
He then began his own investigations, looking for a death certificate for William Wycherley, but found nothing. He unearthed the missing person’s report, filed by police in London a year earlier, and was finally able to track down the current owner of the Blenheim Close address – after the Edwards sold it in 2006 when they were strapped for cash.
“When I spoke to him, he admitted that he thought it had been strange at the time,” Brian said. “All the furniture was still there, and it was as if the occupants had just disappeared.
“Later I was at a Harvest Festival event and my phone rang and I realized it was a French number – it was Christopher. I told him who I was, he was really nervous but he told me the same story he told his mother-in-law. He said he was scared of Susan and called from a phone booth because he didn’t want her to know.
When Christopher called a third time, Brian encouraged him to come forward for questioning, before passing the case on to Chief Detective Inspector Rob Griffin – now Deputy Chief Constable at Nottinghamshire Police – for let him take over.
Brian, who retired from the force last year after 25 years and now works for Trading Standards, spoke ahead of the release of Landscapers – a major four-part drama about the case starring Olivia Colman and David Thewlis.
The Sky / HBO series explores the murders, but also the intricate and fascinating relationship between the Edwards, which led them to murder his parents and swindle hundreds of thousands of pounds in the wake of their deaths – plundering their savings, claiming their pensions and benefits, take out loans on their behalf and act as guarantor of the deceased couple for other loans on their behalf, and possibly sell their house.
Police at 2 Blenheim Close after discovery of the bodies of the Wycherleys
During this time, all of the Wycherleys ‘correspondence was redirected to Edwards’ house in Dagenham, where they spent 15 years responding to letters from doctors and government officials, posing as William and Patricia Wycherley.
They also wrote letters and Christmas cards to relatives, posing as the Wycherleys and later as themselves, describing the elderly couple’s travels to Ireland.
They also told the neighbors a series of stories – telling some that they had moved to Morecambe, others that they had emigrated to Australia.
It wasn’t until they received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions on the eve of what would have been William Wycherley’s 100th birthday, insisting on seeing him face-to-face to assess his benefit needs. , that they knew the game was over. .
The couple fled to France and, after running out of money, Christopher made the fateful phone call to his stepmother, asking for more money and revealing the whereabouts of the Wycherleys’ remains.
“This is the first time that a case of mine has been so high profile,” Brian added. “I was in it from the start so it will be interesting to see what they think about it.
“If a call comes in like this, if someone calls saying there are bodies buried under the lawn, your first reaction is’ really? “. Cops can be cynical – you see people at the worst times of their lives.
“But Elizabeth Edwards came across as so plausible and so genuine, it got me to get to the bottom of it. It’s that almost macabre thing of wanting to know what happened and then realizing the Wycherleys were really buried under that lawn.
“This is a unique event for me in 25 years of police service, and of which I am very proud. If I hadn’t done what I did, then the Edwards could still be free and the Wycherleys could still be buried under that lawn.
The landscapers will be broadcast from December 6.
First Look – Watch the trailer for Olivia Colman’s highly anticipated drama on Man…
Editor’s Message: Support your Chad by becoming a digital subscriber. You’ll see 70% less ads on Stories, which means faster load times and an improved overall user experience. Click here to subscribe.