The Untold Truth Of The Cheshire Double Murders

Over the course of 24 years, between 1996 and 2020, at least five couples in the Cheshire region of England died in what police initially determined were murder-suicides. In all the cases, the couples were advanced in age, and while it's extremely unfortunate, the truth of the matter is that it's not particularly uncommon for elderly couples to die in this way. Perhaps despondent over the ravages of age on their bodies, or facing long and painful deaths from terminal illnesses, or perhaps in fits of mental illness, sometimes aged couples die through the combination of one partner murdering the other and then taking their own life.

In Cheshire, those five cases were, initially, considered open-and-shut examples of tragic murder-suicides. However, a steadfast coroner refused to believe that there wasn't foul play involved, and eventually uncovered evidence that suggests the five cases are not only related, but that they may all point to the work of a serial killer who is still on the loose in the region.

This is the untold truth of the Cheshire double murders.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Howard and Beatrice Ainsworth died in extreme violence in 1996

On April 28, 1996, police in Wilmslow, Cheshire, discovered the bodies of 79-year-old Howard Ainsworth, a former gardener, and his wife, Bea, 78. The two deaths were extremely violent: Bea had been bludgeoned with a hammer and stabbed in the forehead with such force that the knife snapped, according to The Sun. Howard's body was propped up next to her, a bag covering his head.

Police found a suicide note, purportedly written by Howard, according to the Daily Mail, alleging that Bea had recently been diagnosed with an unspecified viral disease.

"It looks as tho [sic] our lives have gone so have given her some sleeping tablets and I will have to throttle her," the note read.

Years earlier, the couple had joined a "right-to-die" group, and since there was a suicide note, police considered the case closed.

However, Stephanie Davies, Cheshire police's senior coroner's officer, noted that several things about the crime scene didn't add up. Could the aged Howard have been strong enough to drive the knife into his wife's skull and snap it in half? Why did the couple seem happy just a few days earlier? Why was the hammer Howard allegedly used to murder his wife washed in a sink? Why were prescription pills that weren't prescribed to either of them scattered across the floor?

Eventually, Davies would uncover similarities between this case and another supposed murder-suicide in the region.

Donald and Auriel Ward also died violently

The next murder-suicide to be discovered in the Cheshire region occurred three years later, in 1999, when the bodies of Donald and Auriel Ward were found, lying in a bloodstained bed in their home.

Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg concluded at the time that Donald, who had been known as an impeccably polite and devoted former pharmacist, must have had a mental break, murdered his wife, and then taken his own life, according to the Daily Mail. However, his statement also suggested that he was dumbfounded by what he saw.

"This in all respects was so alien to Mr. Ward's personality — his whole life — not a single shred of evidence would suggest there was a timebomb waiting to explode," he admitted.

As it turns out, there were multiple similarities between the Wards' deaths and the Ainsworths' three years earlier. For example, Auriel was also stabbed. Further, Davies also found similarities in how the bodies of the female victims were arranged on the beds, as well as the positions of the garments they'd been wearing, that she was unwilling to write off as coincidence. Further, there was no history of domestic violence in the couple's relationship, according to The Sun.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Eileen and Kenneth Martin also died in unnatural violence

Another purported murder-suicide which may have actually been a double murder took place in Cheshire in 2008. In November of that year, Eileen and Kenneth Martin were found dead in their garage in Manchester. The 77-year-old Kenneth had been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, and he was reportedly struggling to care for his 76-year-old wife, who had dementia. According to The Sun, Kenneth had told his daughter the night before their deaths that he was at the end of his rope. Similarly, a neighbor backed up the idea that the situation had become too much for Mr. Martin to bear.

"Ken had been struggling for a few years. He just crumbled under the pressure," said a family member, via Daily Mail.

Again, Davies said the facts of the case didn't point to a murder-suicide. Eileen's injuries didn't suggest her death was a mercy killing, she said, and Kenneth was likely too old and too frail to kill someone with such violence.

Stanley and Peggy Wilson as well as Michael and Violet Higgins also died under suspicious circumstances

The final two Cheshire murders that didn't add up were those of Stanley and Peggy Wilson and Michael and Violet Higgins. According to the Daily Mail, Mr. and Mrs. Higgins were 59 and 76, respectively, when they were found dead in their home in 2000. Michael had purportedly beaten his wife to death with a rolling pin and stabbed her with scissors. In the Wilsons' 2011 case, Mr. Wilson had purportedly bludgeoned his wife about the face and head before stabbing himself in the neck with a pair of scissors.

Stanley Wilson's son, Graham, was convinced that his father had simply suffered a mental break. "It was just a tragedy caused by my father's illness," he said.

Again, as far as Davies saw things, the facts didn't add up. As was the case in other Cheshire-area murder-suicides, the killings were out of character for the men, who had previously been known to be loving husbands devoted to their wives. Similarly, in neither case had there been a history of domestic violence.

A serial killer may still be on the loose in Cheshire

Ms. Davies believes that a serial killer is, or was, prowling around Cheshire, looking for elderly victims whose deaths he could stage to appear to be murder-suicides.

"This individual will not stop killing until someone or something stops him... the acts of dominating the victims, carrying out the murders and fooling the police, are all addictive to him. He will have meticulously planned each murder, ensured he left no forensic evidence and followed the cases in the media," she said, via the Daily Mail.

Davies also put together something of a profile of the suspected murderer, according to The Sun. Specifically, she claims that the killer is likely a powerful man, who hates "domineering" women and likely befriended his victims before murdering them.

Similarly, U.S. forensic expert Steve Chancellor, who was called in to review some of the cases, concluded that there may be a murderer afoot.

"I would suggest a detailed look throughout the country for any additional victims or similar cases," he said.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.