WYCHERLEY MURDER - The reserved couple that vanished

2 Blenheim Close, former home of the Wycherleys.
2 Blenheim Close, former home of the Wycherleys.

When police turned up out of the blue last October at 2 Blemheim Close, Forest Town, and started escavating the rear garden, it left the local community shocked.

Nobody in the quiet cul-de-sac had seen or heard from William and Patricia Wycherley in 15 years - they had simply vanished. Nobody had missed them enough to call the police. Nobody had reported them missing.

But nobody really knew them either - even for people who lived just a few doors away, the retiring couple were little more than passing acquaintances.

But one night over the May Bank Holiday weekend of 1998, there were signs that something was amiss.

In the early hours, four shots rang out in the back bedroom of the semi-detached home. But nobody heard them. Nobody called the police.

Susan Edwards claims she spent hours sitting on the stairs at the house, waiting for the police to knock on the door, but nobody called to alert officers to the noise.

Some neighbours saw Christopher Edwards digging a deep hole in the back garden - presumably the makeshift grave that would keep the couple from justice for the next decade-and-a-half.

But it was not called in - people do dig their gardens after all.

Residents told Chad that a young couple - The Edwards were in their early 40s at the time of the murders - turned up on a regular basis to sort out the garden, but left the house to crumble.

Police say that a mixture of blind luck or very careful planning, followed by a cocktail of lies and deceit kept the Edwards out of jail for the next fifteen years.

“It doesn’t surprise me that people in the houses in Blemheim Close not attached to number two did not hear the shots, although I would expect that if you were in a neighbouring bedroom you would have heard them,” said Detective Chief Inspector Rob Griffin, who lead the murder investigation.

“All I can assume is that the neighbours were out, and whether that was part of the plan or whether that was accidental I really don’t know.

“As to why people didn’t notice, I think the Edwards did a reasonable job of explaining that away - they had moved to Morecambe or Blackpool, or they were travelling in Ireland. The stories changed but they were convincing enough for people to believe them.”

People living in Blenheim Close told Chad at the time of the grim discovery that they had known the couple to nod a good morning to, but they never socialised and nobody was ever invited into their home.

But they appeared inseparable - taking a daily stroll into Mansfield town centre to buy groceries at 2pm each afternoon, and returning at 4pm.

They made an odd sight, neighbours told the Chad - her very tall with long grey hair, him short and frail with shoulder-length white hair.

Then one day the house was empty. No for sale board went up and neighbours assumed that the couple, who moved to Forest Town from London in around 1986 had simply moved on.

One resident who spoke to Chad at the time, said: “They made for a funny couple, very quiet and very reclusive.

“She was a very large woman - really tall with long grey hair. She must have been 6ft tall and she towered over her husband.

“He was quite a lot older - a small, quiet man with white hair that wend down over his collar.

“You never saw any movement in the house and at night blinds were always drawn so you couldn’t see inside.”

PICTURED: “ Blenheim Close today, a Christmas card sent to relatives from Susan Edwards, and a letter signed W Wycherley, stating that he no longer required his pension.