Episode 19 – The Twilight Killers – Kim Edwards & Lucas Markham
On Friday, April 15, 2016, the police showed up at a semi-detached house on Dawson Avenue in Spalding, Lincolnshire. It was the home of the Edwards family, 49-year-old Elizabeth and her two daughters, 13-year-old Katie and 14-year-old Kim, whom no one had seen for a couple of days. After receiving no response, the officers forced their way inside and uncovered a crime that sent chills down the spine of even the most seasoned detectives.
Elizabeth and her daughters’ life had always been rocky. Kim and Katie’s father, Peter Edwards, was a drug addict who took out his aggression on his family members, forcing Elizabeth to take the two girls and stay at women’s refuges numerous times. Eventually, the relationship fell apart, and Elizabeth did her best to raise Kim and Katie alone—which was far from an easy task. For one reason or another, Kim was never as close to Elizabeth as Katie, causing her to feel jealous and bitter like she was an outsider in her own home. The situation only got worse after an incident in January 2008, when Kim was just 6 years old. One day, the mother and daughter got into an argument over the television, which culminated in Elizabeth hitting Kim in the jaw.
Afterwards, Elizabeth felt so bad about her actions that she referred herself to social services, telling everything about what had happened. As a result, both Kim and Katie were taken into care for a few months before they were eventually able to return home to their mother. The whole ordeal did not affect Katie’s close relationship with Elizabeth, but Kim’s attitude towards her mother began to spiral out of control in the following years. Around the time she was 11 to 12 years old, Kim first threatened to run away from home and then claimed to social workers her mother had tried to strangle her during another argument. In turn, both Elizabeth and Katie denied something like that ever happened and said Kim had a habit of making things up. In the end, the case was quickly closed, and Elizabeth tried to get a different kind of help through doctors, hoping they would refer them to family counselling. Shortly after, an emergency psychiatric assessment was arranged as a result of Elizabeth discovering a suicide note written by Kim. The teenager was placed on a psychiatric hold, but as no signs of mental illness were found, Kim was soon released, feeling only deeper resentment towards her mother. At this point, Kim was sure Elizabeth did not love her and only wanted to have Katie as her daughter. It was only a matter of time before the situation would explode again, but this time the consequences would be catastrophic.
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So, just when Kim was feeling most alone in the world, she found someone to share her pain with—a fellow student at Sir John Glebe High School, Lucas Markham. The two first met during their time at a disciplinary class for “aggressive” students. Just like Kim, Lucas had grown up in a violent and abusive household. Since his parents’ divorce, Lucas had lived in foster care before being placed in the custody of his aunt at 4-year-old. A year later, the little boy’s mother lost her long battle with leukaemia. As you can guess, the childhood traumas caused issues for the otherwise bright child, which manifested in frequent violent conflicts—including Lucas throwing chairs across the classroom or engaging in fistfights with teachers. Lucas was eventually assigned to the behavioural unit but continued to struggle to fit in and improve his demeanour.
But Kim liked Lucas, and after being just friends for over a year, she was happy when he asked her out on Facebook on May 23, 2015. However, Elizabeth was less than delighted with her daughter’s relationship. Lucas’ track record was already problematic enough, but Elizabeth also felt that Kim was way too young at 14 to have a serious relationship and possibly engage in sexual activity. Elizabeth saw the connection between the two way too intense—Kim was basically obsessed with Lucas. Feeling that the relationship would just cause more trouble, Elizabeth banned Lucas from their home and told Kim she was not allowed to see him. The worried mother even went as far as contacting the school and asking Kim and Lucas to be separated. Needless to say, the young couple did not respond well.
In October 2015, Kim and Lucas packed a backpack with clothes and some food, and instead of going home after school, they ran away. Frantic Elizabeth contacted the authorities, and a six-day search followed with the police going around houses and parks before finally locating the teenagers in a nearby town’s forest north of Lincolnshire. Shortly after their failed escape, Kim attempted suicide by taking an overdose of painkillers in March 2016—if she could not be with Lucas, there was no reason for her to live. The attempt, however, did not go as planned, and Kim survived. Lincolnshire County Council said in their report the teenager required professional assistance “sooner rather than later”—but unfortunately, the help did not arrive soon enough.
In early 2016, Kim and her mother had their final row after Elizabeth discovered that she had been in contact with her father. Elizabeth was furious—it was not enough that her daughter was in a relationship with a problematic and aggressive boy, but now she also spoke with her abusive, drug-addict father. In a fit of anger, Elizabeth told Kim she had no other future than turning out just like Peter. Following the argument, Kim fled to Lucas’ house, where the young couple barricaded themselves into his room and had to be forcefully separated by his family. When Kim later returned home, she found her possession packed and her room empty, making it very clear in her mind that she “did not belong to the family anymore”. Meanwhile, Elizabeth described her daughter and Lucas’s relationship as “a time-bomb waiting to go off”. Still, hardly anyone could have predicted how far the young couple was willing to go to be together.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016, began like any other day in the Edwards household. Elizabeth headed to St Paul’s school, where she worked as a dinner lady while the girls sat through their classes. After a relatively easy evening at home, Elizabeth and Katie went to sleep sometime before midnight. Shortly after, Kim heard three subdued knocks on her window, just like she had planned with Lucas beforehand. Kim then opened the bathroom window and let her boyfriend in. After confirming Kim really wanted to do this, Lucas took a large knife out of a bag he had brought with him and crept into Elizabeth’s room, where she slept blissfully unaware of what was going on in her home. But as Lucas then pinned her face down with a pillow and began stabbing her throat, Elizabeth woke up and put up a fight for her life. Two deep cuts almost completely severed her windpipe, and defensive wounds filled her hands, but in the end, Lucas had to hold the pillow tighter and put all his weight on Elizabeth for ten minutes before she finally went limp. During that time, Kim came into the room and mistakenly clasped her dying mother’s hand, thinking it was Lucas’. Realising what she had done, Kim then sat on the floor and rocked back and forth on the verge of a panic attack. And yet, Kim did nothing to stop Lucas from entering Katie’s room and butchering her sister the same way as her mother.
While the brutal and senseless murders of Elizabeth and Katie were already horrifying by themselves, Kim and Lucas’ actions after the fact took the case to whole another level. The couple took a bath together to wash away the blood before dragging Kim’s mattress downstairs and having sex on it. Apparently, Kim and Lucas had planned to commit a double suicide the following day at 2 PM—she had even written a note which read:
“I want Lucas and my ashes scattered at our special place. From Lucas and Kim, we don’t give a fuck anymore.“
But for one reason or another, the couple changed their minds and instead ate ice cream while watching the entire Twilight movie series. All while the two dead bodies lay in their beds upstairs.
Eventually, Lucas’ aunt grew worried and reported him missing to the police after he missed two days of school and did not return home. SUSPECTING the teenager WAS likely with his girlfriend, she directed the officers to Kim’s home. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s partner, Graham, also contacted the police as he had not heard from her for a couple of days. As they arrived at the Edwards family home on Dawson Avenue, the police quickly realised something was seriously wrong, and forced their way into the house through a downstairs window. Officer Alistair Pullen, who was the first officer to enter the home, later said that when he found the teenagers in the living room and asked where Mrs Edwards was, Lucas looked him clean in the eye and said:
“Why don’t you go up and see?“
At this point, the smell was so overpowering that when the officers were climbing the stairs, they already knew what they were about to find. Both Lucas and Kim lacked remorse and displayed very little emotion over what they had done. Kim told the detectives she was totally OK with her mother and sister being dead, explaining the motives behind the murders by saying:
“Ever since I was young, I never got along with my mom. I knew she favoured my sister more than me. She said she didn’t, but I knew she was lying. They would talk together, and whenever I got into an argument with my mom, Katie would always take her side… Lucas just hates me being upset. He didn’t like my mom or my sister for that reason. I got rid of the biggest problem that made me feel depressed, which was my mom. It was a relief.“
Kim also tried to justify her actions, telling the detectives that her mother did not have to deal with her suicidal thoughts no longer and wake up every morning wondering if her daughter was still alive. Similarly, in Kim’s twisted mind killing her sister was actually an act of mercy. She did not hate Katie but did not want her to go through “the heartbreak and just all the emotions and stuff” of dealing with losing her mother.
The case went to trial in October 2016 in Nottingham Crown Court. After five days of hearing about the disturbing details of the murders, the jury deliberated for 2 hours and 30 minutes before unanimously finding Kim Edwards and Lucas Markham guilty of both charges—confirming their titles as the youngest double murderers in the UK. Kim and Lucas were initially sentenced to a 20-year minimum term in November 2016, but the Court of Appeal reduced them to 17-and-a-half years.
Ever since, experts have argued over who really was the mastermind behind the murderous plan. Others see dominant Lucas as the driving force behind the killings who pressed Kim to get rid of her family. In turn, criminologist David Wilson believes that Kim was the psychopath behind the plan because of her ‘egocentric belief that she was actually doing her victims a favour by having them murdered’. In the end, it does not really matter whose idea of killing Elizabeth and Katie was—both Lucas and Kim were present in the house, and neither of them did anything to stop it from happening.
Host – Rhiannon Doe
Voiceover – Kwesi
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Inside the minds of the Twilight killers: Interviews reveal the chilling reasons girl and her boyfriend, both 14, gave for murdering her mother and sister (but experts disagree over who is REALLY to blame)