The names of Britain’s youngest double murderers, Kim Edwards and Lucas Markham, were released this month. Katie Glass charts how two 14-year-old lovers descended into savagery.
The defendants were so young that the court took the unusual decision to refer to them only by their first names: Lucas and Kim. The barristers and judge dispensed with their usual wigs and gowns. The baby-faced killers sat in the secure dock behind Perspex screens, separated by two security guards.
Kim, smooth-faced with fine blonde hair and a slight frame, wore a cardigan and leggings. She showed little emotion during the trial except when the verdict was read and she sobbed. Lucas never looked her way. Soft-mouthed, with sandy hair and a round, stubble-free face, he looked even more childlike than she did. The youngest couple ever convicted of double murder in Britain, they were 14 when they plotted and killed Kim’s mother and little sister.
The evidence was harrowing. Over five days last October, Nottingham Crown Court heard how, that April, Kim had watched as her boyfriend, Lucas, stabbed to death her mother, Elizabeth Edwards, 49, and her 13-year-old sister, Katie, as they slept. How blood splattered the walls and covered the floor and the beds. How they had planned for him to target their voice boxes, so they could not scream out. How Lucas had entered his girlfriend’s mother’s room and, kneeling astride her, pinning her down, held a pillow over her face and stabbed her through the neck. Cut marks that the pathologist found on Elizabeth’s hands showed how she had struggled to defend herself.
Next, Lucas crept into Katie’s room. Kim later told police how she had listened as her sister screamed “Get off me!” in a strange, frightening voice, sounding croaky. And “I can’t …” — but she couldn’t say the word “breathe”. Lucas had cut her vocal cords. Afterwards, Kim and Lucas shared a bath and watched the Twilight films. They were found two days later, when police broke into the house.
In October, Lucas and Kim were ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years in prison each, later reduced to 17½ years. Handing out the sentences, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the case had “few parallels in modern criminal history”. “They should lock them up and throw away the key,” said one neighbour from their home town of Spalding.
Spalding sits in the low flats of Lincolnshire, cut through by the River Welland. The fields here once bloomed so brightly that Spalding’s Flower Parade attracted thousands of day trippers. Now mainly eastern European migrants come seeking agricultural work. The town centre is a mix of Polish shops and cheap high-street stores. What remains of the town’s grand history are the red-brick townhouses bordering the riverside walk, where in summer blue-and-white water taxis sail under weeping willows.
At the eastern edge of Spalding lies another stretch of water. The Coronation Channel hugs the Royce Road estate. In winter, its muddy banks are deserted save for the occasional dog walker and rusting beer cans. The odd Union Jack flutters from windows nearby. The Edwards family had lived nearby on Dawson Avenue for more than 10 years in an unassuming two-up, two-down. It is a neighbourhood where sofas slump in front gardens and kids play on the street. “It is a not a well-to-do area,” says the Rev Mike Chesher, former vicar of St Paul’s, the nearby church , “but it’s quite tightly knit. I liked the people because they were straight and unpretentious.”
Neighbours knew Elizabeth — or Liz — well. She volunteered at a charity shop and with the church’s children’s choir and theatre. She “got very enthusiastic about it — so much so that sometimes I had to rein her in a bit”, Chesher jokes. “She would just laugh and get on with things.” Liz was “committed” and “a person of integrity”, he adds. “She was a mother and her maternal instincts enabled her to understand when a child was under the weather and needed support or reassurance.”
He recalls how her youngest daughter, Katie, had appeared in the church production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and how One More Step Along the World I Go was Katie’s favourite hymn. They played it at her funeral.
Liz had been with her partner, Graham Green, for 10 months when she died. Every week, he drove from his home in Rugby to see her and they would go to the Sunday service at St Paul’s. He comes to the door bleary-eyed when I call. A truck driver who works nights, he planned to marry Liz and move in with her. The Christmas before her death they had bought a puppy, Bebe. “She was my rock and I was her ‘grumpy Graham’,” he has said.
Liz’s favourite colour was purple. She got dimples when she laughed. There’s a video of her in the kitchen at Dawson Avenue, dancing to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in a Christmas apron. It was taken four months before she was killed.
“Liz was a really nice, happy lady — we’d always have a laugh and a joke,” says the family’s neighbour Jane Blandford as we sit in her kitchen. “She was very kind. If she could help you, she would.” Jane often saw Liz with her daughters. “I called them Midget [Katie] and K [Kim]. Midget was a gorgeous child.” Katie, almost two years younger than Kim, had wavy gold hair and a smile nobody forgot.