The true-crime miniseries ‘Landscapers’ focuses on the horrifying 1998 murder of Patricia (Felicity Montagu) and William Wycherley (Karl Johnson) by their daughter and son-in-law, Susan (Olivia Colman) and Christopher Edwards (David Thewlis). As the HBO series progresses, we get to peek at the extraordinary minds of the seemingly ordinary Edwardses and the sinister reasons behind their gruesome crime.
Revolving around a true story that’s stranger than fiction, the series, created by Ed Sinclair, touches upon the jaded worldviews of the murderous British couple and their perspective of their crime. The meek mannerisms and impoverished lifestyle of Susan and Christopher make one wonder why the real-life couple committed such a heinous murder in the first place. Well, we’ve got the answers you seek!
Why Did Susan and Christopher Edwards Kill Their Parents?
Susan and Christopher Edwards killed Patricia and William Wycherley during the May Day Bank Holiday weekend of 1998. Afterward, they buried the elderly couple, wrapped in a duvet, in the back garden of their Mansfield home. For several years the Edwardses pretended that the Wycherleys had moved, to either Morecambe or Blackpool, but were alive and well.
In 2012, when the Department for Work and Pensions reached out to William for a meeting in honor of his 100th birthday, the Edwardses panicked and fled to France. Eventually, they ran out of money and returned to England to face the authorities and reveal their side of the story. During police interrogation and court proceedings, Susan maintained that it was Patricia who shot William. She also claimed that her father had sexually abused her as a child.
Then, Susan insisted that she shot her mother because Patricia had provoked her by stating that Patricia had been aware of Susan’s childhood abuse and that Patricia herself had an affair with Christopher in 1992. Susan declared that she informed Christopher about the murders only a week later; apparently, only then did he help her in burying the bodies, which had been stashed under the bed.
It is to be noted that the Edwardses stole a total of £285,286 over the course of 15 years from Susan’s parents by forging their signatures and collecting their savings, pensions, and government disability benefits. The couple even wrote letters to their relatives on the behalf of the Wycherleys, making it seem as though the elderly couple was alive. Moreover, Christopher would regularly visit the Wycherleys’ home (before it was sold off) to tend to the garden.
Susan also revealed that she felt as though she had been cheated out of an inheritance left to her by her great-grandmother. The money was partly invested in the Wycherleys’ old home in Edgware, which had Susan’s name on the deed. However, her parents convinced her to sign away the rights to the house. They then sold their Edgware home for a profit and bought the house in Mansfield. Susan did not receive any of the money.
Former Detective Chief Inspector Griffin, who worked extensively on the case, stated, “This is a couple [the Edwardses] that appears to have planned for some years to exact revenge for the taking of inheritance that had been due to Susan from her step-grandmother.” He also added, “They had spent a number of years planning how they might get some of that money back and they decided on a course of action. They said: ‘We will travel to Mansfield, we will kill this couple [the Wycherleys], who we know will not be missed, and take all of their money.'”
Thus, the Nottingham Crown Court concluded that money was the primary motive behind the killings. Additionally, the court held Christopher responsible for the actual murder, since his gun expertise coupled with the precise bullet marks on the Wycherleys’ bodies indicated that he was the one who pulled the trigger. In 2014, the Edwardses were convicted of murder, and not manslaughter, and sentenced to a minimum of 25 years, each, in prison.
Thus, Susan and Christopher killed Patricia and William for their money, which went into funding their expensive habit of collecting Hollywood memorabilia, such as original posters of Gary Cooper, autographed Frank Sinatra collectibles, and authentic celebrity souvenirs. Susan in particular liked Cooper since her own grandfather had been a big fan of his. Indeed, the Edwardses refused to sell their collectibles even in the face of a financial crisis, choosing to live in squalor instead.
Despite stealing all the money, the Edwardses lived a poverty-stricken life due to their costly hobby rooted in an obsession with old Hollywood. Even the gun Christopher used was a collectible, a service revolver dating back to the Second World War. Thus, like most murders in the world, the Wycherleys’ untimely death was brought about by monetary greed. Additionally, it is likely that Susan’s lifelong resentment towards her parents made it easier for the Edwardses to actually carry out the killing, even though the court did not see it as the primary motive.
Read More: Where Was Landscapers Filmed?