Dad, 57, stabbed wife, 50, and daughter, 24, to death almost 40 times then set himself on fire during lockdown

A QUANTITY surveyor stabbed his wife and daughter to death in a frenzied lockdown attack before setting himself on fire, an inquest has heard.

Gary Walker, 57, killed wife Caroline, 50, and daughter Katie, 24, at their Hemel Hempstead home just days after the first national shutdown began last March.

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After the murders, he doused himself with paintbrush cleaner and set himself alight at the foot of the stairs.

Cops and firefighters who rushed to reports of a property fire discovered the family dead inside.

Mrs Walker, a former supervisor at Waitrose, had suffered 39 stab wounds, while Miss Walker, a kennel assistant, was knifed 38 times.

Both of the victims had defensive injuries to their arms.

Walker's reasons for committing the horror against his family aren't known.

However, a coroner has today heard he had become "anxious" about coronavirus and the thought of working from home.

Detective Constable Jason Rice, of the Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire Major Crime Unit, said Walker was found dead at the bottom of the stairs, while his wife was in the living room and their daughter was in an upstairs bedroom.

The couple had two other children, Christopher and Sarah, who did not live at the family home.

Hertfordshire's senior coroner, Geoffrey Sullivan, said: "The reason for these tragic events remains a mystery.

"None of the evidence we have from family, work colleagues and neighbours provides any indication or explanation of why these tragic events occurred."

GP notes recorded that Mr Walker had a history of anxiety and had been prescribed medication in March 2020 after his recurrent issues were "triggered by the coronavirus pandemic", Mr Sullivan said.

Walker had previously seen a doctor in 2019 after becoming concerned about jury service, and in 2018 over having to give presentations at work.

But daughter Sarah visited the family home the night before the deaths and "to her mind everything seemed normal", DC Rice said.

"She stayed in the car and spoke to her mother and to Katie," he said.

"Walker stayed inside all the time as he was watching something on the TV."

Ms Walker said her mother mentioned that Walker was "very worried about catching the virus".

How you can get help

Women’s Aid has this advice for victims and their families:

  • Always keep your phone nearby.
  • Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
  • If you are in danger, call 999.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
  • Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
  • If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
  • Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.

If you are a ­victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support ­service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – [email protected]

Women’s Aid provides a live chat service, available from 10am to noon.

You can also call the freephone 24-hour ­National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

"Sarah thought these were quite normal issues under the circumstances," DC Rice said.

Ms Walker described her father as a "quiet man". She was not aware that he had any mental health issues, she had had a "happy childhood", and her parents had a "normal relationship", DC Rice said.

The officer said the pandemic had had a "major impact" on Mr Walker, who had to work from home, "which he wasn't used to".

"The pressure of the unknown at the time certainly had an impact on him," he said.

"With regards to money, there's some evidence that Mrs Walker had got herself into a degree of debt over the years, which had caused her some anxiety.

"That was approximately £20,000 and she appeared to be keeping this from Mr Walker, who wasn't aware."

The family were found dead shortly after 12.30pm on March 29 last year. Mrs Walker was last seen by a neighbour at around 10.30am.

The coroner concluded that Walker died by suicide, while Mrs Walker and Katie Walker were killed unlawfully.

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