We are a cynical society these days. It seems that no matter where on the internet you go, you can find some naysayer trying their best to disprove a claim, a story, even a previously held scientific or religious belief.
Sometimes though, it’s good to keep that bit of doubt in your mind, especially if you’re a cop. Take for instance the officers who walked in on one man, trussed up and tied like a turkey…
A passing motorist had seen it first, nestled in the weeds on the side of the road. They called the police, unsure of what was lying there near A444 near Nuneaton, Warwickshire. The officers who first arrived on the scene were shocked by what they beheld: the body of a woman who had very plainly been strangled to death.
All Tied Up
Her name was Carol, she worked in Nuneaton and lived nearby in Meriden, England. Detectives made their way to her home, fairly certain that they were coming to inform her husband of her tragic death. When they got there, they found that Gordon Wardell was a bit too tied up to speak to them, literally. He was bound and gagged in his underwear in the middle of the living room…
The police untied Gordon, who was panic-stricken and in desperate need of a men’s room, having been tied up there for almost 16 hours. He told the officers that a gang of clown-masked, knife-wielding men had broken into their home. They forced him out of his clothes, bound, gagged, and drugged him with what he described as a cloth with an “acrid” smell, before presumably making off with Carol.
From there, police were able to piece together what was likely the rest of the story. While Gordon Wardell was unconscious, the gang of ruffians took Mrs. Wardell to the Nuneaton branch of the Woolwich Building Society where she worked. They stole about 14,000 pounds and once their task was complete, killed her and dumped her body on the side of A444…
What About Carol?
Carol Wardell once worked as a lowly clerk before making her way up to building society manageress at the Woolwich Building Society. She was a devoted wife and a hard worker. The couple married in 1982 and though they were never able to have children, she was a devoted wife and a hard worker whose dedication to her career helped her excel.
Several days after his ordeal, Gordon came out to a press conference to speak about what had happened to himself and his wife. He appeared in a wheelchair, looking forlorn and teary-eyed. He asked for the public’s help in catching the “evil killers” who kidnapped and killed his wife. It wasn’t until the funeral a few days later that the police began to suspect something was off…
Lost it All
The frail and gaunt-looking husband was now thrust into the spotlight. Even at the funeral, he appeared sad, sorrowful, and helpless. He was receiving stress counseling for the ordeal as well. In his mind, he’d lost everything and he wanted answers. So he agreed to take part in a police reconstruction of the night the crime had occurred.
Yet something was off. There were details in his story that seemed inconsistent. What’s more, the police reconstruction he had been so keen on participating in, resulted in more doubts against his previous account of the night of the murder. Meanwhile, Wardell seemed to think that the story he had told was 100 percent convincing. He was wrong…
The police were obviously suspicious of his story to begin with, but finding a man trussed up and nearly nude is a jarring bit of proof to overlook. Still, the idea that a gang of hardened criminals who were willing to kill chose to take just 14,000 pounds from a rural building society branch, while leaving all other valuables at the Wardell’s home alone, seemed unlikely to say the least.
While Gordon Wardell sat home convalescing from his ordeal, the detectives began to take a deeper look into his life. They found a number of prostitutes tied to Wardell. He apparently had been a frequent customer. They also looked into his record and found that as a 17-year-old student, Wardell had been jailed for four years for wounding with intent after indecently assaulting and stabbing the wife of his science professor. It didn’t look good…
The post-mortem examination of Carol Wardell was equally telling. It would have been impossible for Carol to have been alive at 10pm, which was when Wardell said he arrived home. Wardell had told police that he’d smelled smoke on the evil criminals, but forensic tests revealed no cigarette ash or smoke was in the house, nor were any hand or glove prints.
Wardell also attested that he had been rendered unconscious by an “acrid-smelling” cloth over his face. The drug left him unconscious for several hours, more than 10 by his reckoning. The problem was, any drug administered that way wouldn’t sedate Wardell for more than a few minutes. The police had enough, the victim had become their main suspect…
Bring Him In
On Thursday, October 20, 1994, police showed up at Gordon Wardell’s door yet again, only this time it was to bring him in for questioning. It would be a grueling four days of intense questioning before he finally came clean about the whole scheme. He was charged with the murder of Carol Wardell as well as burglary and theft.
Staging a Raid
The police believed that Wardell had staged the whole thing in order to steal 14,000 pounds from the Woolwich building society. He even left one of his wife’s sandals in the office in an attempt to make it look more like the “men” dragged her in there and dragged her out. In reality, he stole the money and strangled his wife before dumping her body. But the question remained, why had he done it, surely not for a mere 14,000 pounds?
As it happened, Gordon Wardell was at risk of losing his job as an executive for a car parts company a few months before the murder. The stress of that and the financial strain it put on the marriage was bad enough, but it was coupled by the fact that the pair hadn’t had sexual intercourse together for nearly a year: which was why Wardell had to get his jollies elsewhere.
At the trial, prosecutor Richard Wakerley came out as saying: “He made mistakes. He tried to be too clever. Maybe he overlooked the scientific evidence the police could bring to bear.” His opinion was corroborated by lead Detective Superintendent Tony Bayliss, who described Wardell as a “cool, cold, calculating” person. The jury echoed these sentiments…
No Way, Man
The Oxford Crown Court jury didn’t have to deliberate long. They unanimously rejected his story. With all the evidence against him, the verdict was a clear as crystal. There was no doubt that Gordon Wardell had strangled his 39-year-old wife Carol and dumped her off the side of the road.
While passing sentence against him, Justice Cresswell reportedly said: “You are an extremely dangerous, evil and devious man. You killed your wife in a brutal manner then cynically attempted to escape detection by going to elaborate lengths to make it appear that your crime was the work of a gang of robbers…” Carol’s family in the gallery finally got justice…
“This murder was an outrage to your wife, her family, and to everybody who knew her.” continued the judge. In the stands, Wardell’s mother, Joan, burst into tears. Yet, as sad as she was for her son, who would spend likely the rest of his natural life in prison, there were just as many who were outraged the penalty wasn’t more severe.
Carol Wardell’s mother, Joan Heslop, was one of those people. She was just happy that her daughter could rest in peace at last. “She loved life. To have it taken away so tragically in such a way was terrible.” she explained. She added that she’d always thought something was off about Gordon’s display of grief. “It was just a mother’s feeling I suppose…”