Updated: Apr 12, 2022
Most couples have activities they enjoy doing together. Some like watching movies. Others play golf or go hiking. But a few engage in much darker endeavors. Here are five couples who turned to murder.
1. Kim Edwards and Lucas Markham
On the night of April 13, 2016, 14-year-old Kim Edwards opened a bedroom window to secretly let her 14-year-old boyfriend, Lucas Markham, into her house. But this was no ordinary secret teenage hookup. Once inside, Lucas proceeded to stab Kim's mother, Elizabeth, as she slept and smother her with a pillow. He then proceeded to the room of Kim's sister, Katie, and killed her in the same way. After the murders, the couple had sex, shared a bath, ate ice cream and had a Twilight movie marathon, earning them the nickname "The Twilight Killers.”
The next day, Kim and Lucas were reported missing. When police realized nobody had seen Elizabeth or Katie either, they forced their way in to the Edwards home to find the missing teenagers downstairs — and the bodies upstairs.
Kim later claimed she wanted her mother dead because she favored Katie over her. Afterwards, Lucas admitted Katie had to die as well for fear she would call the police. Though Lucas confessed to physically murdering Elizabeth and Katie — which was the plan from the start — it's clear Kim had a hand in it.
In November 2016, Kim and Lucas were both given 20 year sentences, which were later reduced to 17 and a half years. As of June 2017, they are Britain's youngest double murderers.
2. Wendy Gardner and James Evans
Wendy Gardner was just five when she and her younger sister, Kathy, went to live with their grandmother in Ulster County, New York. Under the guardianship of Betty Gardner, Wendy initially seemed to flourish, getting good grades and playing the flute. But things weren't as they seemed.
According to Wendy, Betty was no loving grandmother. She frequently told Wendy she would end up like her mother, a prostitute who died of AIDS. At one point, Wendy even watched her grandmother kneel in prayer and curse God for leaving Wendy with her.
When Wendy was 13, she began dating 15-year-old James Evans. With Wendy's troubled background and James's sociopathy -- later diagnosed by court psychiatrists -- the relationship was a recipe for disaster. The couple soon formulated a plan to enact the ultimate revenge on Betty Gardner.
On December 28, 1994, Wendy returned home after spending two weeks with James and his family. Betty might have been happy to finally see her granddaughter again...if she hadn't had James in tow. Upon their arrival, she insisted that James leave, but the couple had other plans.
Instead of doing what was asked of him, James pulled out a kite string. "Just do it," Wendy said to him before running upstairs. As James strangled Betty with the string, Wendy sang 'Jingle Bells' to block out what was going on.
For three days after the murder, the couple rode around town in Betty's car -- with her body in the trunk. They also stole her cash and held Wendy's sister, Kathy, captive in the house. This arrangement continued for three days before 11-year-old Kathy escaped to a neighbor's house and the police were contacted.
In 1997, Wendy and James were both found guilty of second degree murder. Wendy was sentenced to seven years to life, while James was given nine years to life. At 15, Wendy was the youngest murder defendant in Ulster County.
3. Tylar Witt and Steven Colver
Tylar Witt was raised by a single mother in a wealthy area of Northern California. When Tylar was five, her mother, Joanne Witt, lost control of her temper and ended up hitting her daughter. When daycare workers noticed the mark on Tylar's face and reported it to Child Protective Services, Witt temporarily lost custody.
Tylar lived in foster care for a month before going to stay with her grandparents. She was with them for six more months before Witt finally regained custody. After getting Tylar back, Witt was determined to give her daughter as much as any little girl could want. This included frequent trips to Disneyland, horseback riding lessons, and even private planes.
But this treatment soon backfired. Witt was afraid to discipline her daughter for fear she'd be taken away again, and Tylar took advantage. She did poorly in school and ran away from home several times. When Witt finally cracked down and tried to reign Tylar in, it led to physical fights between the two. In one incident, Tylar even called the police pretending to be her mother in the hopes she'd be removed from the house. But, although Child Protective Services became involved multiple times, Tylar remained under her mother's care.
Tylar was just 14 in 2008 when she met and began a relationship with 19-year-old Steven Colver. She even convinced her mother to let Steven move in with them by telling her he was gay.
But their scheme didn't work for long. When Joanne came home one day to find Tylar hiding naked in a closet, she realized the truth and ordered Steven to move out. She even found Tylar's diary, which detailed their relationship, and shared it with the police, hoping statutory rape charges would be filed against Steven. But Tylar and Steven didn't stop seeing each other, and the situation soon went from bad to worse.
On June 12, 2009, Tylar waited outside her mother's bedroom while Steven stabbed Joanne 20 times. Tylar would later admit that, even though they planned the murder together, she spent it with her hands over her ears, her eyes closed and humming.
After the murder, the couple fled to San Francisco and checked into a hotel, where they planned to commit suicide together. However, when Tylar tried to end her life by eating rat poison, it did nothing but give her a stomachache.
Six days after the murder, Tylar and Steven were found hiding behind a dumpster and arrested. During the trial, Steven changed his story and said Joanne was already dead when he arrived at the house that night.
But it didn't work. In 2011, 21-year-old Steven was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. In exchange for testifying against him, Tylar was found guilty of second degree murder and given a reduced sentence of 15 years to life.
4. Holly Harvey and Sandra Ketchum
At the age of 15, Holly Harvey lived with her grandparents in the basement of their Fayetteville, Georgia home. Her mother was in jail for marijuana possession, and her father had been in a car accident years earlier that left him paralyzed.
In middle school, Holly met Sandra Ketchum. The two became fast friends -- and then more. But Holly's grandparents forbid her from seeing Sandra. They said it was because Sandra, a drug user from a young age, was a bad influence, though Holly would later claim they didn't approve of her dating a girl. Whatever the reason, on August 2, 2004, the tension turned deadly.
To give yet another potential motive, Holly wanted to borrow her grandparents' car that evening, but knew they'd never let her. So she and Sandra went to her basement bedroom and began smoking marijuana, knowing the smell would lure her grandparents out. Sure enough, they soon entered the room, and Holly began stabbing. Her grandfather survived the initial attack and tried to call police, but Holly yanked the phone out of the wall and continued stabbing him, this time to death.
Holly's uncle found the bodies later that evening. He'd talked with his father -- Holly's grandfather -- about the situation a few days earlier and, upon finding his parents' remains, knew immediately that Holly was responsible.
The day after the murder, Holly and Sandra were found by U.S. Marshals in Tybee Island, about four hours away from Fayetteville. Holly allegedly had a to-do list written on her arm that read "kill, keys, money, jewelry."
Both girls were tried as adults and sentenced to life in prison. Both Holly and the judge agreed death would be an appropriate punishment for her, but Holly wasn't eligible for the death penalty because of her age. Both girls are eligible for parole, Sandra after 14 years and Holly after 20.
5. David and Catherine Birnie
If you think you're seeing a pattern here, you're not going crazy. Many of these couples are young and kill their parents or guardians who, for whatever reason, don’t approve of their relationship. However, some killer couples don't fit that mold.
David and Catherine Birnie met as children growing up in Perth, Australia. They reconnected as adults in 1985, and Catherine left her husband and children to be with David. Though she took David's last name, they never officially married.
But the Birnies were no ordinary childhood sweethearts. After less than a year of reconnecting, they spent weeks researching and planning the perfect murder. And they would succeed more than once.
Between October 6 and November 10, 1986, the couple killed at least four women. Their victims -- all between the ages of 15 and 31 -- were alone when they were lured back to the Birnies' home, where they were raped, tortured, and murdered. Before their deaths, the victims were often forced to write letters and make phone calls to their loved ones, to throw police off the Birnies' trail. The four women were buried at a nearby national park.
But things started to fall apart for the couple when 17-year-old Kate Moir escaped from the home and ran into a supermarket. When the police eventually heard Moir's story, it was so gruesome they thought she was making it up.
The Birnies were soon arrested, and David led police to the four graves in the national park. They're suspected to be involved in at least three more missing persons cases.
Both David and Catherine were sentenced to life in prison. They're both eligible for parole but, in 2000, the then-Attorney General of Western Australia said they probably wouldn't get it unless they were old and frail (though Catherine is now in her 60's).
In 2005, David committed suicide in prison. In February 2017, his daughter, Tanya, said she never wanted to have children for fear of passing on her father's serial killer genes.
What are your thoughts on these cases? Let me know in the comments.