A SON who found his mother murdered and mutilated in her blood-soaked home bravely caught her killer and uncovered his secret life.
Dave Bradley, 38, went to check on his mother, Karen Wheeler, after becoming concerned at not hearing from her but soon stumbled on across a nightmare scene.
3Dave Bradley, 38, stumbled upon a horror scene when he found his mum murdered and mutilated in her own homeCredit: Focus3Karen Wheeler was found dead in her apartment, killed by her husband Mark WheelerCredit: Focus3Warped killer Mark had murdered his wife after accumulating debtsCredit: FocusHe found Karen’s husband, Mark Wheeler, covered in blood in the bathroom and his mum’s mutilated body in the living room.
Dave, 38, from Birkenhead, Merseyside, said he “wanted to kill” Wheeler when he stumbled across the horror but claimed he heard his mum’s voice urging him not to throw his life away.
The terrified son trapped him in the bathroom and waited for the emergency services.
Karen and Mark had appeared happily married and she worked hard as a carer, saving to pay for a forthcoming holiday to Orlando.
But the warped killer had a secret life, had cut his hours at work, and was £15k in debt.
With bailiffs due to show up at the home, he bludgeoned and stabbed his wife to death while she slept on the sofa.
Wheeler last week began a life sentence for murder after admitting guilt during an earlier hearing in August.
A devastated Dave said: “The police couldn’t find out how he had spent the money.
“But in her flat, after her death, I found women’s underwear and other items which didn’t belong to my mother and it’s my view that he was paying for other services.
“I also came across his books on law and crime and murder.”
As a child, Dave was taken into care with his late older brother after their mother suffered severe post-natal depression and mental health problems, but he went back to live with her at 15.
Dave said: “She was always so apologetic, she tore herself apart with guilt, and she vowed to be the best mother she could, going forwards.
“It was tricky at first whilst we adjusted to being a family again but we grew really close and we had an incredible bond.
“Mum was a hard worker, she lived very frugally, and she enjoyed the simple things.”
Karen met Mark in 2008 whilst working as a cleaner at TK Max before getting married to him in 2015.
Dave says: “Mark seemed nice enough though he was off-beat; he had a weird sense of humour and he would say odd stuff. But my mum loved him and so I accepted him.
“He was really into rock music, he loved ACDC and collected all the T-shirts.”
But in the last couple of years, Dave became concerned about Mark’s behaviour when he complained about Karen working too much.
‘NEEDY AND POSSESSIVE’
Dave said: “Mark started moaning about her working too much. He called her a lot, checking up on her.
“He was becoming very needy and possessive which was worrying.
“But there was no sign at all of what was to come. There was no violence, no indication that he had a temper at all.”
Dave lived just a five-minute walk away from his mother and arranged to visit on May 11, just three days before his birthday.
He says: “I could see Mum’s flat from mine. She messaged me every single day and I saw her a couple of times a week. She’d cook a steak for me and one for Scrappy, my Jack Russell too.”
“She had such a soft heart. That morning, Mum texted to say she’d just come off a night shift and was looking forward to seeing me after a sleep.”
But when Dave arrived at the flat, at 3.15pm, there was no reply.
Thinking she was probably still asleep, he went home but he admits that by night time he was “a bit concerned”.
By the next morning, Dave was becoming increasingly worried and he visited the flat again to find no response.
He says: “I tried the concierge, I called my Mum’s work, I even called the police. They said they couldn’t really help. I went back to the flat and this time, Mark buzzed me in.
“In the lift, on the way up, I got the strongest instinct that something had happened to my Mum and that Mark was responsible.”
‘I WANTED TO KILL HIM’
Dave walked in through the open front door to find Mark covered in blood.
He added: “I ran straight past him and found Mum on the living room floor, face down. I knew she was dead.
“I ran back to Mark and asked him why he had killed her. He replied: ‘Debt. Bailiffs are coming tomorrow.'”
“I wanted to kill him, I wanted to take his life there and then. But I felt Mum telling me that he had taken her life and not to let him take mine, telling me to ring the police instead.
“I trapped him in the bathroom, and I was frightened of what he might do if he got out. But there was no way I was leaving him in the flat with my mum.”
The stricken son said he had to wait 22 minutes for the police to come while he kept Wheeler trapped.
In the aftermath of the killing, Dave had to plan his mother’s funeral and also clear out her home.
Dave added: “It’s my belief that Mark had a grubby secret which had got him in debt and rather than confess to my mum, he murdered her.”
“I miss her so much and I relive the day of her murder over and over again. No punishment will ever bring her back.”
Last week Liverpool Crown Court heard that Karen Wheeler suffered at least 25 blows to the head after she was struck with a heavy salt lamp with a wooden base.
She was knocked unconscious but came around again at one stage and “asked what he was doing”.
Wheeler told her he “had to” kill her and was going to take his own life and began hitting her again with the lamp.
The sick killer then began stabbing her around her body “to make sure she was dead” before drinking whisky and attempting to take an overdose of tablets.
His suicide bid was unsuccessful and the following morning, he left the address in order to buy beer.
A post-mortem revealed that Karen had suffered fractures to the skull and facial bones, bleeding on the brain, stab wounds to the head, chest and shoulder and “defensive” injuries to her hands and arms.
Stanley Reiz KC, defending, told the court that doctors concluded his client had been suffering an “acute stress reaction” after a receiving phone call telling him bailiffs would be visiting at 5pm that day.
Wheeler was last week jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years and 10 months and told to pay a victim surcharge.
Sentencing, Judge Denis Watson KC said: “It is self-evident that no sentence that I can pass can restore her life.
“She was a loving wife to you and a much-loved mother.”
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk