Police reviewing whether fentanyl double murderer also killed his father and grandfather

Luke D'Wit - Police to investigate whether fentanyl double murderer also killed his father and grandfather
Luke D'Wit fatally poisoned Carol and Stephen Baxter - PA/Essex Police

Detectives are reviewing the deaths of the father and grandfather of a man who fatally poisoned a married couple with fentanyl.

Luke D’Wit was sentenced to life in prison in March and told he must serve a minimum of 37 years for the murder of Carol Baxter, 64, and her husband Stephen, 61.

Police are now exploring whether D’Wit, 34, was also responsible for the death of his father, Vernon, who had been prescribed fentanyl before he was found dead at his home in 2021.

Officers “will not hesitate to act” if they uncover fresh evidence, an Essex Police spokesman said.

As part of their review, detectives have also been re-examining how D’Wit’s grandfather died.

During his trial at Chelmsford Crown Court earlier this year, jurors were told D’Wit, described as a “nerdy and weird” loner, spent almost a decade ingratiating himself with the Baxters and their family before “scheming and planning their demise”.

The couple were discovered slumped in their armchairs in the conservatory of their detached home in the seaside village of West Mersea, Essex, by their daughter on April 9 last year.

In the months before giving the couple a fatal dose of fentanyl, D’Wit created multiple fake identities of doctors to trick Mrs Baxter into taking medication that left her with dementia-like symptoms.

Stephen and Carol Baxter
Stephen and Carol Baxter were found slumped in their armchairs at home having been murdered by D'Wit - SWNS/Essex Police

The court heard he would film her and giggle at the footage, after making her drink “health drinks” that would supposedly help with her thyroid condition, but were laced with drugs.

As the couple lay dying in their home, D’Wit watched on remotely via cameras installed in the property. After they had died, a fake will was discovered naming D’Wit as the director of the couple’s business.

D’Wit had extracted the fentanyl used to kill the couple from patches originally prescribed to his father, the trial heard.

Mr Justice Lavender said following the death of D’Wit’s father in 2021, the murderer had retained the drug “in abundance”.

The judge said that while D’Wit had hoped to gain financially from the couple’s deaths, the primary motivation may have been a “desire to control others” as he had done with Mrs Baxter in the months before he murdered her.

“Deciding whether another person lives or dies is the ultimate form of control,” he added.

After the verdict was returned, the couple’s son, Harry Baxter, said: “We were all dolls in his dollhouse, victim to his manipulation.”

After the Baxters’ bodies were discovered, their deaths were initially treated as unexpected, but not suspicious, with investigators considering a possible carbon monoxide leak alongside other innocent explanations.

Just over two months later, following a post mortem investigation, it emerged that they had been poisoned with fentanyl.

Their daughter, Ellie, was initially arrested on suspicion of their murder as detectives pursued a number of lines of inquiry.

After D’Wit was arrested, he was found to have both unopened and opened packs of fentanyl patches in his rucksack. He was also found to have a number of metal tacks alongside pill casings.

Luke D'Wit
D'Wit had hoped to gain financially from the couple's deaths but the judge said the primary motivation may have been a 'desire to control others' - PA/Essex Police

During the trial it emerged that Mrs Baxter had been admitted to hospital after complaining of severe pain and where X-rays showed a number of identical tacks in her stomach. Detectives “strongly believe” she had been secretly fed the tacks by D’Wit.

Following his conviction, locals in the close-knit coastal community of West Mersea struggled to accept that D’Wit, who grew up on the island, could have been responsible.

They said they could not believe the “polite, mild-mannered” man was capable of such cruelty.

A close friend of the D’Wit family, who did not wish to be named, told The Telegraph: “I’ve known him for 30 years, I knew him as a little boy, he used to come round to our house.

“Throughout that time up until the day he was arrested, I thought he was a polite nice lad. I just can’t understand it”.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Up to the conviction and sentence of Luke D’Wit, our determined focus has been securing justice in relation to the murders of Carol and Stephen.

“As with any investigation of this magnitude, everything we have uncovered is being reviewed and should anything suggest this [involvement in further crimes] has been the case, we will not hesitate to act.”