A SON who found his mother murdered and mutilated in her blood-soaked home bravely hunts down her killer and uncovers her secret life.
Dave Bradley, 38, went to see his mother, Karen Wheeler, after worrying he hadn’t heard from her, but soon encountered a terrifying scene.
He found Karen’s husband, Mark Wheeler, covered in blood in the bathroom and his mother’s mangled body in the living room.
Dave, 38, from Birkenhead, Merseyside, said he “wanted to kill” Wheeler when he encountered the horror, but said he heard his mother’s voice urging him not to waste his life.
The frightened son locked him in the bathroom and waited for help.
Karen and Mark are apparently married, and he is working hard as a caregiver, saving to pay for an upcoming vacation to Orlando.
But the deformed killer has a secret life, cut hours and is £15,000 in debt.
When bailiffs were supposed to show up at the house, he beat and stabbed his wife to death as she slept on the couch.
Wheeler began a life sentence for the killing last week after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing in August.
Devastated Dave said: “The police couldn’t find out how he spent the money.
“But in his flat after he died I found women’s underwear and other things that did not belong to my mother and I think he was paying for other services.
“I also saw his books on law, crime and murder.”
As a child, Dave was fostered with his late older brother after their mother suffered from severe postnatal depression and mental health issues, but returned to live with him at 15.
Dave said: “She’s always apologetic, she’s torn with guilt and she’s vowed to be the best mum she can be, in the future.
“It was hard at first when we adjusted to being a family again, but we became close and had an incredible bond.
“Mom was a hard worker, she lived very modestly and she liked the simple things.”
Karen met Mark in 2008 while working as a housekeeper at TK Max before marrying him in 2015.
Dave said: “Mark looks great even though he’s weird; his sense of humor was unique and what he said was unique. But my mother loved him, so I accepted him.
“He was really into rock music, he loved ACDC and collected all the T-shirts.”
But for the past two years, Dave has been worried about Mark’s behavior when he complains about Karen’s work too much.
“NECESSARY AND POSSESSIVE”
Dave said: “Mark started complaining that he was working too much. He called him a lot, watching him.
“He’s becoming very needy and possessive, which is worrying.
“But there was no sign of what was to come. No violence, no indication that he had a temper.”
Dave lived just a five-minute walk from his mother and arranged to visit her on May 11, just three days before his birthday.
He said: “I can see mum’s flat from mine. She texts me every day and I see her several times a week. She cooks a steak for me and one for Scrappy, my Jack Russell too.”
“He has a very soft heart. That morning, Mom texted that she had just finished her night shift and was looking forward to seeing me after bed.”
But when Dave arrived at the apartment, 3:15 pm, no one answered.
Thinking he was probably still asleep, he went home but admitted that during the night he was “a bit worried”.
The next morning, Dave became even more worried and visited the apartment again without finding any answers.
He said: “I tried the concierge, I called my mum’s work, I even called the police. They said they really can’t help me. I went back to the apartment and this time Mark called me.
“In the elevator, going up, I had the strongest instinct that something had happened to my mother and Mark was responsible for it.”
“I WANT TO KILL HIM”
Dave walked through the open front door to find Mark covered in blood.
He added: “I ran straight ahead and found mum on the living room floor, face down. I knew she was dead.
“I ran to Mark and asked why he killed. He replied: ‘Debts. The bailiffs are coming tomorrow.’”
“I want to kill him, I want to kill him immediately. But I felt like mom told me that she took her life and she wasn’t going to let me take my life, telling me to just call the police.
“I locked him in the bathroom and I’m afraid of what he might do when he comes out. But leaving him in the apartment with my mother was out of the question.”
The stricken son said he had to wait 22 minutes for police to arrive while he kept Wheeler in custody.
Following the murder, Dave had to plan his mother’s funeral and also empty his house.
Dave added: “I believe Mark has a dirty secret that put him in debt and instead of telling my mum he killed her.”
“I miss him so much and I keep thinking back to the day he was killed. No punishment will bring him back.”
Last week, Liverpool Crown Court heard that Karen Wheeler suffered at least 25 blows to the head after being hit with a heavy salt lamp with a wooden floor.
He was knocked out but returned at one point and was “asked what he was doing”.
Wheeler tells him that he “has to” kill him and that he will kill himself and starts beating him again with the lamp.
The sick killer proceeded to stab her around the body “to make sure she was dead” before drinking whiskey and attempting to overdose on pills.
His suicide bid fails, and the next morning he leaves the address to buy beer.
An autopsy revealed that Karen had suffered skull fractures and facial bones, bleeding on the brain, stab wounds to the head, chest and shoulder and ‘defensive’ wounds to her hands and arms.
Stanley Reiz KC, defending, told court doctors that his client was suffering from an “acute stress reaction” after receiving a phone call telling him that bailiffs would visit at 5 pm in that day.
Wheeler was jailed last week for life with a minimum sentence of 15 years and 10 months and told to pay a victim surcharge.
Sentencing, Judge Denis Watson KC said: “It is clear that no sentence I can pass will bring him back to life.
“She was a loving wife to you and a dear mother.”