Lesley Ford Family Murder: Where is Lee Ford Now?

Image Credit: Suzy E./Find a Grave

Discovery+’s ‘Deadliest Mums & Dads: The Killer Stepdad’ explores the gruesome murder case of Lesley Ford and her four children, all of whom were found dead in October 2000 after more than a month of going missing. From the time when the detectives handled it as a disappearance case to when they found the remains of the victims, the episode profiles the entire tragedy of Lesley and her children. It also includes exclusive interviews with Lesley’s close ones and the officials associated with the case, giving us a more detailed account of it all.

Lesley Ford and Her Children Were Found Buried in Shallow Graves

On April 3, 1964, in the riverside town of Fordingbridge in the New Forest District in Hampshire, England, Leslie Wyatt brought a beautiful daughter into this world and named her Lesley Margaret Wyatt. While growing up in Telford, Shropshire, she was surrounded by the warmth of her siblings, a brother and sister. Lesley grew up to be a free-spirited and kindhearted individual who never hesitated to help those in need and greeted everyone with a smile. Her charm and radiance caught the eyes of a man named Michael Tranter, whom she stumbled upon on the bus she took on a regular basis, and they quickly grew fond of each other.

After being together for a while, Lesley and Michael tied the knot in the presence of their loved ones. Throughout the 80s, their marital union resulted in the birth of four kids — Sarah-Jane (1983), Anne-Marie (1984), Steven (1986) and Craig (1987). However, their blissful bond was marred with hindrances, and cracks began to develop in their relationship. Eventually, Lesley and Michael decided to separate. It was an amicable split and the two served as amazing co-parents to their kids. But things changed in 1990 when Lesley took a liking to Lee Ford.

One thing led to another, and they got married and welcomed two kids of their own into the family. While they initially resided in Telford, the family relocated to Cornwall County in 1995. While Lesley was a stay-at-home mother who looked after the kids and kept things in order at home, Lee found employment as a builder and roofer. When he wasn’t working, Lee hung around at a cricket club in the area. Everything seemed fine until late August 2000, when Lesley, Sarah Jane, Anne Marie, Steven, and Craig went missing from their home in the western part of Cornwall.

With no knowledge of their whereabouts, their loved ones reported them missing, and a search was launched by the authorities. At the time of their disappearance, the kids were 17, 16, 14 and 13, respectively. In less than two months, in October, the police discovered the remains of Lesley and her sons under their home while Sarah and Anne Marie were buried in a grave in a field in an isolated area, located a few miles from their residence. The police quickly initiated an investigation into the murders and began looking for evidence.

Tension Between Lesley and Lee Led to Her and Her Children’s Death

When Lesley and her four children from her first husband vanished from their Carnkie residence in late August 2000 and the police got involved, her husband Lee claimed that she decided to get away from him and lead a separate life with her children. But the investigators had their suspicions about Lee and the missing persons’ case turned into something more. Upon diving deeper into the case, the detectives learned that the marriage between Lesley and Lee Ford was far from all butterflies and rainbows, as Lee was described as a controlling husband who always had a say in where Lesley goes and what she wears.

Soon after the marriage of Lesley and Lee Ford, Lesley’s first husband was not allowed to see his children on more than a few occasions, as Lee made one excuse or another. Although the new couple had welcomed a son into the world in 1991 and appeared to be happy, there were certain concerning issues in the relationship — Lee’s excessively possessive behavior towards Lesley and her children that turned into physical abuse later on. When things became unbearable, Lesley escaped with her children to a caravan in Cornwall, close to her mother’s house, in 1995. Lee found out his wife’s location through her mother and moved to Cornwall to get back into her life. After a couple of years, they gave birth to their daughter.

In an attempt to isolate Lesley further, Lee decided to move the Ford family to the small village of Carnkie in 1998. Not long after the move, Lesley suspected that Lee had been sexually abusing two of her eldest daughters — Sarah-Jane and Anne-Marie. She even approached social services due to her suspicions, but no action was taken. Then, between late August or September 2000, Lee and Lesley got into a heated argument, which led the former to beat her with a rounder’s bat. After that, he reportedly made her a cup of tea and served it with some painkillers. Instead of calming down the situation, he took things further when he spotted a rope in the garage and strangled his wife to death with it.

Reports suggest that Lee murdered his four step-children one by one over the next 24 hours by strangling them to death, just like their mother. Then, he buried the five bodies in the woodshed of the house. However, when the police began inquiring about his wife’s disappearance, he panicked and moved the bodies of Sarah-Jane and Anne-Marie from his house to a potato field just six miles away. In early October 2000, Lee Ford got arrested and confessed to all the murders but did not explain the reason behind his gruesome actions. The other three bodies were excavated by the police from the shallow graves in the house’s woodshed.

Lee Ford Remains Behind Bars in a Prison in England, Awaiting His Parole

To begin with, Lee Ford pleaded not guilty to the murder charges against him, but on the morning of his trial on May 24, 2001, he had a change of heart and pleaded guilty to murdering his wife, Lesley Ford, and his four step-children. After a few days, he received five consecutive life imprisonment sentences, one for each murder charge. Originally, he was set to serve a minimum of 35 years behind bars before getting eligible for parole, it was later reduced to 27 years. As of 2021, Lee Ford was serving his 27-year imprisonment sentence at HMP Durham in Durham, England, with his parole hearing scheduled in 2027.

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