A 23-year-old homeless man has been charged with the murder of a woman and her 13-year-old son together with the attempted murder of the teenager’s father.
West Midlands police said on Friday they had charged Aaron Barley, of no fixed abode, over the attacks at a family home in Stourbridge, West Midlands. Barley will appear before Birmingham magistrates on Saturday morning.
Friends and neighbours have said the Wilkinson family took a homeless man under their wing after coming across him while he was begging in a street.
Tracey Wilkinson, 50, and her son Pierce died of stab injuries after an incident at their large redbrick home on a leafy lane on Thursday morning.
Wilkinson’s husband, Peter, was badly injured and remains in hospital, where his condition is stable. The family also have a daughter, Lydia, who was away at Bristol University.
A man was arrested soon after the incident after a Land Rover allegedly taken from the Wilkinsons’ home smashed into a wall nearby.
As police confirmed that a man had been charged over the incidents, dozens of schoolfriends of Pierce, who attended the nearby Redhill school, arrived at the cordon near the family home to pay their respects.
Some laid flowers; others simply stood and stared at the police tent set up outside their friend’s home. A few of the girls hugged.
In a statement Stephen Dunster, the headteacher of Redhill school, said: “Pierce was a loyal, caring and conscientious pupil, who will be sadly missed by all members of our school community. He always met everyone with a smile and was a kind and thoughtful young man.
“He was passionate about his football team, West Bromwich Albion, and was devoted to his pet greyhound dog.
“He was a loving son and brother. Our thoughts and prayers remain with his family, in particular his father Peter and his sister Lydia. Pupils and staff are in school today and are being offered professional help and counselling. We would like to thank everyone in the community for their offers of support and condolences.”
During the day wellwishers had delivered tributes and one person left a West Bromwich Albion scarf at the cordon.
Tracey Parbery, the chair of the Hall Green Retired Greyhound Trust, placed a toy greyhound at the scene. The Wilkinsons had rehomed a retired greyhound called Mandy, which was led away from the house on Thursday.
She said: “They had supported us in many ways since they had the dog and they were well known to our volunteers, who are devastated. They were a lovely family, very genuine and everybody who met them said what nice children they had.”
A family friend said they had taken in a homeless man around a year ago. He said: “It escalated and they invited him round to their house for meals. They would let him do odd jobs in the garden and around the house for money and food. They were a lovely family.”
A card left at the scene read: “I can’t believe your act of kindness has ended this way.”
Tory councillor Colin Elcock said of the Wilkinsons: “They were a lovely couple. Peter was a businessman, and used to travel a lot to the USA and Europe with his job, but both he and Tracey helped me deliver pamphlets.”
One neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, said she had picked flowers from her own garden because Tracey Wilkinson was always talking about country flowers.
She said: “Everyone is still stunned here and I hope we get some answers because we just can’t figure out what has happened.”
Neighbour Colin Giles, 82, said: “Only recently Peter saw me trying to clean my drive and and said: ‘That’s no way to do it’ and gave me a power tool to jet spray it. They were a lovely couple.”
Speaking outside the family home on Thursday, Supt Lee Kendrick of West Midlands police said: “What has unfolded here is horrific and heartbreaking. Police and ambulance were confronted with an awful scene: a man, woman and boy all with very serious stab injuries. The woman and boy were found in the house and the man in the garden.
“Tragically, there was nothing that could be done to save the woman, and her son later died in hospital from his injuries.”
A postmortem and formal identification will take place on Monday.
A police spokesperson said: “A man has been charged with the murder of a Stourbridge mother and her son in Norton yesterday and the attempted murder of the woman’s husband.
“Aaron Barley, of no fixed address, will appear before Birmingham magistrates tomorrow (Saturday 1 April) to face charges of the murder of 50-year-old Tracey Wilkinson and her son, 13-year-old Pierce.
“The 23-year-old is also charged with the attempted murder of 47-year-old Peter Wilkinson who remains in a stable condition in hospital.
“The couple and their son were found with stab injuries at their home in Greyhound Lane just after 8am yesterday morning. A postmortem examination and formal identification will take place on Monday (3 April).”