Nurse who got her son to kill a disabled man tried to frame him
‘Wicked’ and ‘greedy’ nurse who persuaded her son, 19, and his friend to kill her disabled former client so she could inherit his estate was willing to put the blame on her own child so she could walk free, prosecutor claims
- Thelma Purchase jailed in 2008 for planning the 2007 murder of Greg Baker, 61
- Greg, of Alton, Staffordshire, disabled due to polio as child and muscle atrophy
- Purchase was his carer before befriending him and benefiting from money
- She got her son Lance Rudge and friend Shane Edge to kill him for his will
A ‘greedy’ nurse who cajoled her son into killing her friend so she could inherit his estate was willing to let her child take the blame for the murder so she could walk free, the prosecuting barrister revealed in a new documentary on the case.
Thelma Purchase, from Stoke-on-Trent, persuaded her son Lance Rudge and his friend Shane Edge, both 19, to murder disabled Greg Baker, 61, in 2007, at his Alton residence in Staffordshire.
Baker considered Purchase a friend after she worked for him as a carer some years before, and had named her as a main beneficiary in his will. Hungry for cash, Purchase decided to kill him to inherit it early.
Rudge and Edge entered Baker’s house on June 15, 2007, and smothered him with his pillow before returning to Stoke-on-Trent. Purchase drove them to Baker’s house and back, but denied any involvement in the crime at her trial in 2008.
Purchase was served with a minimum sentence of 30 years, while her son and his friend were ordered to serve minimum terms of 18 and 20 years respectively for the murder.
Speaking in My Lover My Killer on 5Star, Christopher Hotton QC, the prosecuting barrister in Baker’s case, said Purchase was ready to put all the blame on her son and Edge in order to walk free, in the ultimate betrayal.
Thelma Purchase, a carer from Stoke-on-Trent, orchestrated the murder of Greg Baker, 61, right, in 2007 at his home of Alton, Hampshire, so she could inherit his will
Purchase, who orchestrated the vile crime, told police her son and Edge had borrowed her car on the night of the murder, and that she had not been involved in Baker’s killing at all.
She said her phone – the signal of which was located in Alton on the night of the murder – was in her car, which Lance had ‘taken to buy drugs’.
Purchase claimed that when she woke up the next day, Rudge had parked her car in her driveway and put her phone through her letterbox, and stuck to this version of events throughout.
‘When you take a moment to think about it, the wickedness of that lie was that she was prepared to sacrifice her own son to save herself,’ Hotton said.
‘She was prepared to lead the police to think it must be her son and Shane who alone were responsible for this murder. This would have allowed her to escape responsibility for her part.’
The boys who helped: Shane Edge, and Purchase’s son Lance Rudge, right, both 19, killed Baker in his room on June 15 2007. He had tutored Rudge in mathematics when he was younger
‘There can be no greater betrayal of a mother for her son than to frame him in that way in order to exculpate herself,’ he said.
In fact it was Purchase, motivated by greed, who had hatched the plan to kill Baker, who lived alone. Disabled after contracting polio as a child, later in life he also developed muscular atrophy.
Purchase had worked for Baker alongside other carers from 2005, and he immediately took to her. She later described their relationship as that of a father and daughter, however, the other carers who worked for Baker and other eye-witnesses told police they had seen them cuddle and kiss.
‘What the true nature of that relationship was is a matter of speculation,’ Hotton said. ‘Thelma described her relationship with Greg as that of a father-daughter, other witnesses paint a very different picture.
‘Two of the other carers recalled occasions where Thelma was sitting on the lap of Greg, cuddling him and kissing him and there was a strong inference that there was rather more than the daughter-father affection between them.’
Purchase, pictured, had befriended Baker when she worked as his carer and then used him for his money, before deciding she couldn’t wait for him to die of natural causes to inherit the lot
As their relationship developed, Baker started buying several gifts for Purchase, including a blue Citroen Saxo car.
Friends became aware that he was also helping her with money, and tutoring her son in maths.
Some grew suspicious that Purchase was using Baker for his money. In spite of this, Andrea Stafford said in the documentary she didn’t raise her worries to Baker because she didn’t want ‘to burst his bubble’.
While she was working for Baker in 2006, Purchase separated from her partner Kelvin Almos.
Almos later discovered Purchase had tried to hire a hit man so she could claim his life insurance.
Purchase stopped working for Baker, but the pair remained friends, and in 2007, he made her one of the two main beneficiaries of his will, alongside his friend Andrea Stafford.
‘She stood to get a very substantial amount of money out of his death,’ Hotton said.
It is estimated Purchase would have received £70,000 at Baker’s death.
‘Being the greedy woman that she was, she didn’t want to wait for Greg to die from natural causes, who know how long that might be? It might be many, many years,’ he continued.
‘Who knew what might happened in those years, the relationship might come to an end, another person might come who would win his affection, he could choose to change his will and cut her out.’
Purchase moved to hatch a plan to kill Baker she could pocket the money. This was despite the fact she had received £8,500 in backpay from him shortly before his murder.
Turning to someone she could trust, she asked her son Lance Rudge, 19, whether he knew someone who’d be willing to participate.
Hotton said in the documentary that people reported hearing Lance asking ‘is there anybody here who would be prepared to kill for money?’, the only person to say yes was Edge, and Purchase briefed him at a barbecue shortly after.
She persuaded the boys to participate by promising to pay them £8,000 each once she’d have inherited from Baker.
‘Her son and Shane were teenage lads, they would never had become involved in something of this nature hadn’t it been for the persuasive powers of Thelma Purchase and her promise that they would each receive £8,000 once she inherited the estate from Greg,’ Hotton said.
‘She was the driving force because she’d receive the lion share of the money.’
It was decided she would drive Rudge and Edge from Stoke-on-Trent to Alton, park the car nearby and wait while they killed Baker.
Purchase knew that Baker slept with his door open so that his carer could access him in case of emergency. She also knew that on Fridays, his carer put £500 in his pajamas top pocket so he could pay them.
The two men went into Baker’s room, put a pillow over his head and sat on his body until he was completely asphyxiated.
Hotton, who said it was a ‘callous’ way of killing someone, added Edge had said he heard Baker say ‘why are you trying to kill me?’
‘Suffocation is a horrible way to die,’ said Dr Sarah Jarvis, medical journalist.
‘Your adrenaline flows through you, your oxygen drops very quickly and the carbon monoxide rises, even if you weren’t awake, you would be as soon as you realise you you couldn’t breathe,’ she said, likening the experience to drowning.
Greg’s tombstone in Alton, where he is remembered by friend as a kind and generous man who as manipulated by ‘greedy’ Purchase
After committing the crime, the two men returned to Purchase’s car, where she took Edge’s shoes, t-shirt and the pillow he had used to kill Baker.
She burnt all the items in her courtyard, thinking that this way, nothing would link them to the crime.
It was reported Edge returned to his house-share shoe-less and said ‘I did it.’
After Baker’s body was found, it was first believed he had died of natural causes, however, police soon were tipped off by several particularities about the case, namely that his pillow was gone, just like the £500 he would normally have had in his pocket.
Hotton said in the documentary: ‘The event that took pace clearly demonstrated somebody or some people who had intimate knowledge of Greg, somebody who knew that he left his door open at night, somebody solely breaking in to steal whatever they could would not have killed Greg.
‘This was not a random burglary, this was a targeted killing. The only person who needed to break in and kill Greg was somebody who stood to benefit from his death.’
Quickly, police identified Purchase as a suspect, and suspected she hadn’t acted alone.
She tried to throw them off by lying, saying she had not left home that night.
However CCTV and phone technology at the time placed Purchase, Rudge and Edge in Alton that night.
Ironically, Purchase had driven the Citroen Saxo Baker had bought her to go kill him.
When they visited Purchase’ home, police found burn marks on the paving of her courtyard and decided to investigate.
They found fragments of cotton and enlisted the help of an expert at London’ Natural History Museum ti confirm it had belonged to a pillow.
Uncovered CCTV also showed Edge – who wasn’t wearing shoes – and Rudge buying alcohol at an all-night store.
In spite of the mounting evidence against them, the trio denied any involvement in the crime until their trial, where a jury eventually convicted them.
‘There was clear, compelling inference that all of them were involved ed in what had been a ruthless plan to execute the unfortunate Greg Baker for money,’ Hotton said.
Purchase, Edge and Rudge were sentenced to prison, and while they serve their time, friends of Baker still remember him fondly.
His friend Andrea remembers the day of the verdict as a rainy day she said ‘felt like god crying.’
‘My heart was crying for justice for Greg, for all the injustice that had gone on and the manipulation that had gone on against this generosity and kindness,
‘I was just so upset about all that, he would have forgiven Yvonne, we know he would have forgiven Yvonne.’
My Lover My Killer airs on Tuesdays at 10pm on 5Star.
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