Extracts from A KILLER’S CONFESSION

A Killer's Confession

Extracts from Karen Edwards's A KILLER'S CONFESSION: The Untold Story Behind ITV’s 'A Confession'.
As BT TV says 'A Confession on ITV has had viewers gripped to their TV screens on Monday nights with its telling of a true story of police procedure, a serial killer and a heartbreaking tragedy'

Posted on October 6, 2019 in Extract
Tags: A Confession, A Killer's Confession, Extract, Karen Edwards

Chapter 1

The Beginning of the End

My son, Steven,  had answered  the  knock on the  front  door. Now  he  was calling  me  from  the  kitchen.  I knew  then,  even before I looked down the hallway. Maybe I caught the tone of Steven’s voice, a nuance that would have been lost on anyone else. A mother’s instinct perhaps. I’d been listening  to my instincts for days and I was sensitive  to any sign, any indication that  might confirm my fears. I’d voiced my concerns to my husband, Charlie, and to Steven. They’d tried to reassure me, but it hadn’t worked.‘Mum, I think  you should  come  to the  door.  Mum,  I think you need  to come here.’

Cold  fear gripped  me.  As soon  as I saw the  police  officer  I knew why he was standing  there.  Becky. I recognised the officer straight  away because I’d seen him on the television.  Everyone knew his name.

For  the  last two  weeks  a police  investigation had  played  out  through the media  as police  looked  into  the  disappearance and  murder  of Sian O’Callaghan, a pretty  local girl who had gone  missing  on her way home  from  a nightclub in Swindon,  in the early hours of Saturday,  19 March  2011. The  officer in charge  of the case, Detective Superintendent Stephen Fulcher,  was now on my doorstep.

Like   thousands  of  others   in  Swindon   and   around   the country,  I had been glued to the news. It was a dreadful  story that  so many people  could relate  to. The  investigation into Sian’s disappearance dominated every news bulletin,  radio station  and  newspaper.

I  had  felt  an  enormous sympathy   for  Sian’s  parents,   as  I imagined  what  they  must  be going  through. I had  seen  them and Sian’s boyfriend,  Kevin Reape,  on the  news, appealing  for help to find her. I saw the pain and worry etched  on their  faces. The  man now at my door  had been  sitting  next to them.

He had hero  status in Swindon. Not only had he captured Sian’s abductor and murderer, but he had discovered Sian’s body so she could be returned to her family. But there had also been an extraordinary twist. When DSupt Fulcher had  first  ordered the  arrest  of a local taxi driver,  Christopher Halliwell,  for  Sian’s  abduction, no  one  could  have  predicted what would happen  next.

Halliwell  repeatedly  replied  ‘no comment’  to  other  officers when they used emergency interview provisions to ask him where Sian was. They  hoped she might still be alive somewhere so they had to find her fast. The  quickest  way to do this was to ask the only man who knew – Halliwell  – but he refused  to co-operate. So  before  he  was taken  to  the  police  station,  DSupt Fulcher himself asked to speak to Halliwell.  He wanted to look the man he had spent  days hunting in the eye to persuade  him to reveal where  he had taken Sian.

It worked.  Halliwell  told  DSupt Fulcher  he would  lead him to Sian. He  then  took  officers on a long  car journey,  directing them  into  the  Oxfordshire countryside. During the journey,  Halliwell  indicated  he had killed Sian and had left her body  somewhere down  a steep  verge  along  a stretch  of road.

While  a helicopter was searching  the  area  for  Sian’s  body, and before he was taken into custody, Halliwell requested to talk further to  DSupt Fulcher.  He  had  Halliwell  driven  to  a quiet spot and asked him what he had to say.

‘Do you want another one?’ Halliwell  asked.

He  told  the  officer  he  had  murdered a woman  some  years earlier,  in either  2003, 2004 or 2005; he couldn’t  be more  precise than  that.  But  he  could  take  him  to  the  spot  – the  exact spot where  he’d buried  her.  He  directed  officers through the countryside, driving down winding,  single-track lanes until they reached a remote field in Eastleach,  Gloucestershire. By the time they’d arrived,  the helicopter at the original  location  had found Sian O’Callaghan’s body.

Halliwell  got  out  of the  police  car and  climbed  over a dry- stone wall. Once  in the field, and taking a reference  point  from a dip  in the  wall, he  paced  steps  to  a spot  in the  ground and indicated  that was where he had buried  the woman. A day later, the skeletal remains  of a body were discovered  a little way from where Halliwell indicated  in the field. But he had given no name for his victim, so who was she?

When I heard  on the news about  another body being  found in a field, the O’Callaghan family’s story suddenly  became  very personal  to me. Until  then,  of course,  as a mother, I felt enormous  empathy  for them  – a sort  of ‘there  but  for the  grace of God,  go I’ kind of empathy  – along with any other  parent  who heard  the story and who had a young,  pretty,  vibrant  daughter.

But another body . . . something inside me, something instinctive, told me it was Becky. She had been a vulnerable,  troubled teenager, disappearing for weeks and months  at a time. But she always came  back  eventually.  However, I hadn’t  actually  seen her  for  many  years  by now.  The  last time  I’d seen  her,  she’d promised  me that  she would  come  home  when  she was ready. So I’d waited.  In the years that  had passed since, as recently  as just a few months  ago, other  people had told me that they’d seen Becky. People  had spoken to her, told me of their  conversations with her.  Although I was hurt  that  she wasn’t ready to return home  to me yet, I convinced  myself that  I had to be patient.  I remembered her  promise  and waited.  It would be like she’d never been  away.

But  despite  all the  sightings  of her,  something deep  inside nagged  at me.  As I watched  the  news unfold,  I couldn’t  shake the  feeling  that  the  newly discovered  body  was Becky. I felt it so strongly  I spoke  of it to  my family. An inexplicable  feeling of dread  had settled  on me. ‘What  if it is Becky?’ I asked them.

‘It can’t be,’ they said, as, like me, they’d relied on what people had  told  us over the  years. But, still, what  if it was? For  some reason  I knew it was her.  I just knew it. All through the  week that  followed  I drove  myself  mad  with  fear  and  worry  that  it was Becky. It was all I could talk about.

When I knew I was alone in the house, I sat in my bedroom, pen in hand  at my dressing  table. I finally picked up the phone and  dialled  the  police.  Dread  was burning inside  me. I was so frightened. But I had to do it.

‘Hello, Wiltshire Police, how can I help you?’ the call operator sounded  quick and efficient.

‘My name  is Karen  Edwards.  My daughter, Becky, has been missing for a while and I’m concerned it could be my daughter found  in the  field at Eastleach.’  I was choking  back the  tears, trying  to stay calm, not  really believing  what I was saying. But the words came tumbling out.

I heard  the  quick  tap  of fingers  on  a keyboard  as I relayed Becky’s details.  As the operator spoke, she tried  to reassure  me by saying that 464 other  people  had also rung in to report their loved one  missing  since the  body  had  been  found.  I seized on what she said, writing  the figure 464 on my note  pad. She told me not to worry too much.  At last I put the phone  down. Relief at having  made  the  call flooded  through me  but  I felt sick at the same time.  I wanted  to take comfort from  what the call taker  had said; there  were 464 other  people with fears like mine.  But there  was only one body. As much  as I tried  to stop myself thinking  it, I just knew it was Becky.

Now,  here  was Stephen Fulcher  at the front  door.  My heart was racing. I could hear the rapid pulse in my ears. It was deafening. I knew why DSupt Fulcher  was there  and yet I so wanted it not  to  be true.  My mouth went  dry  in reaction  to  the  fear that  racked me. As I walked towards  the door  I created  a delay. I didn’t  want  to hear  what  he had to say, so I bought myself a few precious  seconds  while  I tucked  some  tea  towels  on  to  a radiator. I knew what  I was doing.  I was desperately trying  to hang  on to normality, the  familiar  world  I knew. The  world  in which Becky still existed for me. I didn’t  want to hear  what he had to say. I felt sick.

As I  walked  down  the  hallway  towards  him,  my  stomach churned. My palms were sweating. I knew. I just knew. I seemed to float towards him in slow motion. There was no more delaying. This  was it. We  stood  facing each other.

‘Mrs Edwards?’  His  voice was low and steady.

‘Yes? My god, is it my Becky? Is it my Becky? It is, isn’t it?’ There was the merest hesitation before he answered. His eyes stayed fixed on mine.

‘Yes,’ he  said clearly  and  calmly.  ‘May we come  in?’ Stood beside  him  was another  policeman, with  two  women  officers behind  them.

‘Please, no, no, not my Becky!’ I cried. The  tears were instant, as was a huge  wave of fear, sadness and utter  hopelessness.  I’d known  for days in my heart,  in my gut, but here  was the awful confirmation. Nothing can ever prepare  you for the  shock.

Now  the police officers were closing the door  behind  them. I ran  to  Steven  who  was in  the  living  room,  standing  by the fireplace. My worst fears had been confirmed. The  body was Becky’s. My lovely baby was dead. My world  shattered. To hear  this today  of all days was devastating.  On the day she’d been born, I was told she was dead.

I clung to Steven and just broke down. I wasn’t in control any more. I felt an actual physical change, as if something died inside me. I couldn’t function, I couldn’t hear or speak. The  only thing I could do was cry hysterically. The  world didn’t  feel real any longer.  We’d  descended  into  a kind of hell.

A policewoman helped me to sit down. They were talking to me, but all I could take in was it was Becky they had found  in the grave.

‘But it’s her  birthday, it’s Becky’s birthday.’  It was all I could manage  to weep.

‘Could we please see Becky’s room?’ DSupt Fulcher  asked gently,  after a while. I looked  at him through a haze of tears; I could see that he was tired, but there  was a determination about him that  I’d seen in him on the television.

‘Of course,’ I answered,  tearfully.

I led the way upstairs  and opened  the door.  I’d always kept the  room  ready  for her,  waiting  for her  to come  back, as she had many times over the years. It still had all her things  there; it was just as she’d left it, despite  the fact she hadn’t been here for so long. It was Becky’s room.  Now,  I  was standing  in her  room  with  a police  officer.  He  was out  of place in there. It was wholly surreal.

As  he  looked   around,  taking   it  in,  I  opened   the   ward- robe. ‘These are some of her presents from the birthdays  and Christmases we’ve missed  since  she  left.  There’s  more  in  the loft . . .’ It was all I could manage to say before the words choked in my throat. Again, the  tears  brimmed and  blurred my sight. He looked at me. Piled in neat columns were parcels wrapped in Christmas paper. This was where I kept some of Becky’s presents since  we’d last seen  her,  in 2002.  They  were  ready  for  her  to unwrap  as soon as she came back. Just because she wasn’t here,

I hadn’t forgotten her; she loved Christmas and birthdays. There were two more presents  for her today. As I looked at them  now, I knew she would never open  them.

I was in such  a bad  way that  the  local doctor  was called.  I was put to bed. Whatever tranquilliser she gave me worked well because I didn’t wake until the following  morning. As soon as I opened my eyes the reality of the day before hit me like a hammer blow. The  nightmare that  had begun  yesterday  was there  again today, and would be every day now.

Out   of  my  drug-induced sleep,  my  mind  went  to  a  new, dark place, somewhere I’d never been  before,  a kind of torture chamber, where  all manner  of horrors greeted  me.  Becky was dead,  so what  had happened to her?  How  had she come  to be buried  in a field? How  had she been murdered? What had that vile animal done to her? His name went round  and round  in my head, a name I’d heard on the news. Who  was he? What had happened? My mind spun with these thoughts. I would have to know.

With these  dark  thoughts in  my mind,  I knew  somehow  I had to face the day. The  policewoman returned to see me. She wanted  to ask me lots of questions about  Becky and in the  fog of grief and a relentless  stream  of tears, I did my best to answer them.

The  days followed  in a frenzy,  as the  discovery  of Sian and Becky dominated the news. The media went mad, with journalists climbing  over the gate and camping en masse outside the house. The  local press were running a public appeal for information – ‘Did you know Becky?’ – and  were  already  highlighting other women  who had gone  missing  from  Swindon.  There was such a hunger for information, we eventually  had  to  put  a note  on the gate requesting privacy.

I continued to help police to build up a picture  of Becky and we went back to her room. They needed to go through her things, read her  diaries,  letters,  and try to understand her.  They  asked me for her  story  so they  could  determine what  had  taken  her into  the path  of her killer, Christopher Halliwell.  They  wanted to  know  anything that  could  contribute to  the  investigation. There was nothing too small or insignificant  I could tell them.

This  gave me a reason to function  while I dealt with the pain of knowing  I would never see Becky again; the pain of knowing she had been murdered. I was helping them with their enquiries, helping  them  with their  investigation. I could do that.  I needed to do that.  Anything  that  would help bring  her killer to justice. And so, still unable to believe what was happening to us, I started from  the beginning.

 

Chapter 13

We were abroad on holiday with the family, and it was the night  before we were due to fly back to the UK. When I woke up, I could sense straight away that Charlie was edgy.

‘I have something to tell you. Laura rang at two a.m. . .’

The BBC News channel was on and I saw the breaking  news running along the bottom of the TV. It said that an unnamed 51-year-old man had been arrested  for Becky’s murder!  I rushed to get  my phone from the safe and noticed that I had several missed calls, including one from the police.

I was all over the place. Was it Halliwell? It had to be, surely? There had been no indication that an arrest was coming. What had happened? I tried to make contact with my Family Liason Officers (FLOs) but they weren’t picking  up.

The long flight home was unbearable. As soon as we landed and were inside the  terminal, I took out my phone. I was all fingers and thumbs as I typed the number and it started to ring. DCI Sean Memory answered. I asked him one question.

‘Is it who I think  it is?’

I held my breath, conscious that  I was in a public  place. It was all I wanted to know.

‘Yes,’ he said. I cried tears of relief.

‘Thank you,’ I mumbled.

My mind was in overdrive on the journey home. It felt out of the blue. I had no idea what had suddenly prompted Halliwell’s arrest. Of course, it was good news, but I was terribly apprehensive too. We had been here before and it had all gone horribly wrong. Would he wriggle off the hook again?

There was now a lot of renewed media interest and I found myself answering call after call. The police put out a statement:

We can confirm that a fifty-one-year-old man from Swindon was arrested today on  suspicion of the  murder of Becky Godden, also known as Becky Godden-Edwards. He has been interviewed  and enquiries  continue. It is in the interests of justice for Becky that you do not speculate on the identity  of the arrested man as to do so could seriously jeopardise the judicial process.

After four years of purgatory, I was in the mood to talk, but, because  of the  delicate  nature of the case, we were still unable to discuss it for fear of it falling at the first hurdle. There was such a long way to go and we were told we needed to keep everything completely watertight. We had spent  years keeping silent, so a while longer  wouldn’t make any difference.  Through the Swindon Advertiser, I thanked the people of Swindon  for all their support. Their kind words  had helped  me through some really dark times.

After the news of Halliwell’s arrest, I became extremely  anxious. I couldn’t  sleep. I just wanted all of this to go away. I was finding  the waiting a strain, constantly worried that the  police were going to contact me with bad news. The feeling just wouldn’t go away and I was running on nervous  energy.

In times like this, we found ourselves out  at Becky’s field in Eastleach.  It  was now  a familiar  place  to  us, but  I came  here with  such  mixed emotions that sometimes  I hated it here.  It was such a desolate  field and I wanted  to change  that.  I wanted to plant  a tree  in Becky’s memory, have something strong  and permanent, something beautiful that would give blossom. We asked the farmer for his permission and he agreed.

Having made the decision we went out to plant  it. It was a cold and windy day. The field was muddy  but it made the soil easy to dig. The  area had become  a little  overgrown, and as Charlie cut it back ready to dig,  I suddenly had a bolt  of anxiety.  We were  doing  exactly what Halliwell  had done  all those  years ago. He  had been digging here, digging  Becky’s grave. I said nothing, continuing to watch as Charlie finished planting  the tree. When it was planted in the  ground I tied  a pink  ribbon  around  it. As he’d cleared the  ground, Charlie  had also found  the cross left by the police among the undergrowth; the words had now worn away. We repositioned it under the tree.

We now had Becky’s tree in Becky’s field. We stood for a few minutes  and  I said a prayer  for her.  I hoped  planting the tree would introduce life to the spot where Becky had been laid; that it might somehow make the site easier to visit. Then, much like the first time we were there,  I wanted to run, get away. I couldn’t explain it; I wanted  to be there and yet, once there,  I couldn’t help but re-imagine the awful night Halliwell would have driven Becky here.  We continued to visit regularly to make  sure  the tree  thrived.  We knew now that  if we visited in the  spring,  we would see it in beautiful  scented  blossom.

The day of Becky’s birthday arrived; she would have been 33 years  old.  Although I was feeling  very tired,  adrenalin  kicked in to help  me through the  day. My lovely friends and family came round for Becky’s birthday  celebration. She used to love celebrating her birthday. We put on Becky’s R&B music and danced around  the kitchen  to  her  favourites,  Usher  and  Daniel  Bedingfield. That evening we sifted through photos, laughing and crying. My daughter-in-law made a birthday cake, complete  with  candles.  I lit them  and  the  grandchildren blew them all out. It had been another day of mixed emotions.

Everything seemed to be catching up with me; I was lacking in energy, but my mind  continued to buzz with the thoughts of bringing Halliwell to justice. Dare I hope that this time it would come good?

There was now a vacuum of news from the investigation. I was left to imagine what  might  be happening. I was scouring the  local news as soon as I woke, checking  my texts and emails for any  contact from the media, who many a time found out information before  I did.  I had  also set  my phone and iPad to alert  me if Halliwell’s name  was mentioned in the press. I didn’t know what more I could  do. The waiting felt interminable. There had to be more I could do.

I thought back over the last few months. The petition had gone well and unexpectedly it had also led to people giving information about Halliwell. I remembered how extraordinary it had been talking to Jane, his former  girlfriend. I was pleased she felt able to approach  us and be so candid. It had been chilling to hear that she thought Halliwell  had killed when she had known him, back in the 1980s. But what if we hadn’t been there? What if I hadn’t petitioned and provided the opportunity for people to pass on their  information to us? Information such as Jane had provided  was crucial to murder enquiries.

There were other women still missing from Swindon: Sandra Brewin, Sally Ann John, Thi  Hai Nguyen. How come there  was no trace of them? There’d been no trace of Becky because he’d buried her. Had he killed these women too? If it wasn’t Halliwell, were there more killers like him walking among us, just as he did, in Swindon? Were the police on top of all this? They’d let Jane’s crucial evidence slip through the net until  she’d approached us as we campaigned.

I thought of the people who Mum had overheard linking Halliwell to Linda Razzell. Linda’s husband,  Glyn  Razzell, was in prison  for her  murder, although he’d always denied  killing her. Her  body had never been found. Jane  had  mentioned the  date  19 March  as being significant,  perhaps  a date that a girlfriend had left  him.  Sian  O’Callaghan had  gone missing on 19 March,  as had Linda  Razzell. Did this date mean something to Halliwell? Had more women gone missing on this date?

I turned to  the  internet and  put  the  date  in,  alongside ‘missing women.’ Immediately it returned the high-profile case of Claudia  Lawrence,  who  lived near  York.  She  too had gone missing  on 19 March in 2009 and had not been seen since.  I often  recalled  all the information I’d read about  Halliwell, that he’d travelled  around  the country. Could his reach have stretched to York? Very possibly. I decided to research  further. It gave me something to do to fill the void while I waited for an update on the investigation.

Around  this  time, the Advertiser  was  asking  the  public to help  the  mother of Sally Ann John  so that  she too  could  have closure.  A few months  earlier,  Sally Ann’s  disappearance had been declared a murder investigation by Wiltshire Police.  Sally Ann had been working  as a prostitute in Swindon at the time of her  disappearance in 1995. She hadn’t been seen since and now, nearly twenty years later, police were treating her disappearance as murder.

Of  course, there  were  similarities  with  Becky, as both had been sex workers and both  had gone missing from Swindon. Whenever there were developments in the months that followed, friends would be in touch  to check on me. As police made fresh searches at Sally Ann John’s last known address,  in Nythe, I received  a Facebook  message  from  Lisa  Halliwell,  Halliwell’s ex-wife. I thought it was very kind of her to think of me. Her message was simple,  ‘Thinking of you, sending  love.’ My heart went out to Lisa and her children.

However, the  police were not  linking Sally Ann’s disappearance with Halliwell,  despite her  father saying she would  have been  known  to him. Some arrests were made but these people were  released without charge and the case went quiet again.

I felt a pang of guilt as Sally Ann’s family had been waiting for answers for so long.  Thanks to Steve Fulcher,  Becky had been found and now we were hopefully on the road to justice.  No one knew more than  I what it was like to have a daughter, who you love with every fibre  of your  body,  go missing,  to not  see her for years. Unless you have been in that situation, you cannot imagine the  agony  of not  seeing  your  child  for weeks, months and  years. The not knowing, the constant wondering.

Then, unexpectedly, things began  to move forward  with the enquiry again.  Sean  Memory, who  had  recently  been  promoted to  Detective Superintendent, wanted  to come  and see me. Out  of the blue, a meeting was arranged…

 

A KILLER’S CONFESSION, by Karen Edwards is out now
A Killer's Confession

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