Hollie Kerrell was a much-loved mum-of-three when she was killed by her own husband and their children played outside last year
Christopher Kerrell murdered his (Image: WALES NEWS SERVICE)
Hollie Kerrell was loved by everyone who met her.
A bubbly mum-of-three, she is described as “lighting up every room she walked into”.
Devoted to her children, Hollie was close with her sisters and mum and a vital part of the small community she lived in in Wales.
But to her manipulative and controlling husband, Christopher Kerrell, Hollie was nothing more than someone he could coerce and bully.
In one final act of savage violence he killed the 28-year-old by hitting her over the head with a hammer and strangling her until she was dead as their three young children played outside.
Hollie “lit up every room she walked into” (Image: A + E Networks)
Forensic criminologist, Dr Jane Monckton Smith explained: “A coercive control victim can be absolutely anybody.
“There was nothing about Hollie that made her more in danger of being killed than any of the rest of us. The problem wasn’t Hollie. The problem was Chris Kerrell.”
Chillingly, he then drank the still warm cup of tea Hollie had made for herself before wrapping her body in his young son’s Thomas The Tank Engine bedding and bundling her into his car.
Kerrell then made lunch for his children before putting them in the car, along with their mother’s body, and driving to a farm where he had been staying with his mum.
He wrapped her in black plastic sillage from the farm and scooped her up in a tractor before driving a mile away into a field and placing her in a shallow grave.
Hollie had finally found the courage to leave abusive Kerrell
Without dropping a single hint what had happened, Kerrell left the farm that night and drove home with the children.
Over the next few days Kerrell maintained his act of concerned husband, telling police he and Hollie had argued and she had stormed out with a bag.
He even appealed for information about his missing wife on social media.
But Kerrell had left a trail of clues and five days after he had killed Hollie in cold blood, he was arrested on suspicion of her murder.
First, there was the chilling text message Hollie had sent to her sister in the minutes before she was killed by her own husband.
Hollie was devoted mum to her three young children (Image: WALES NEWS SERVICE)
Hollie said: “”He’s just been in the shed and got a hammer.”
Her sister replied twice saying: “Ring the police. NOW!.”
Hollie lived in the close knit community of Knucklas and everyone knew her relationship with Kerrell was volatile, something even he hadn’t tried to deny.
Det Supt Anthony Griffiths said: “Chris basically gave the story of Hollie storming off if you like from the house after they’d had a, a disagreement on the Sunday morning.
“Hollie had left the house with personal belongings and had taken a bag of clothes with her and stated to Chris that he could have the house.
“He would be looking after the children and that she had had enough.”
Det Supt Anthony Griffiths and Detective Gareth Grant investigated Hollie’s disappearance (Image: A + E Networks)
Hollie and Kerrell had moved to Knucklas in early 2018 and to make extra money for the family, she sold cosmetics.
She was described as a “good businesswoman” with a flair for hair and make-up.
Police soon discovered that she had been trying to leave her husband for some time and had persuaded her husband to move back in with his mother on her farm.
In the days immediately following Hollie’s disappearance, police traced her bank cards.
CCTV showed they had been used at two different supermarkets – but it wasn’t Hollie who was spending on them, it was Chris.
Initially he’d bought some bleach and refuse sacks, then, the same day, he’d gone to a different supermarket and bough a mop and bucket.
Hollie was a talented businesswoman and had been selling make-up and beauty products (Image: PA)
Police were very suspicious.
Then, after a media appeal, a member of the public came forward to tell police that Kerrell had been seen dumping several bags of clothing into a clothing bank.
Officers felt they had enough and Hollie’s husband was brough in for questioning.
He feigned total ignorance as to why he was at the police station, and then it was discovered he had not only previously been convicted of sexual offences and there were reports of a previous domestic violence incident with a past partner.
But the final, terrible, clue was found in Hollie’s own home – her own hammer had been dumped in a bin.
There was no trace of blood but officers had also discovered Hollie’s bank cards and driving licence, which Kerrell was adamant she had taken with her.
Hollie was killed in the kitchen of her home as her children played outside (Image: WALES NEWS SERVICE)
Police arrested Kerrell when the evidence started to stack up against him (Image: WALES NEWS SERVICE)
Police then tracked his movements on the last day Hollie was seen alive.
A witness reported seeing Kerrell striding across a field near his mother’s farm and then officers discovered track marks, leading to a patch of land.
Meticulously, the police began to dig and then the came the most horrific discovery – Hollie’s body.
Kerrell refused to answer any of the police’s questions but the following day, six days after Hollie disappeared, he finally opened up.
He admitted murdering his wife and was jailed for 25 years.
A poignant victim statement, read in court, by Holie’s devastated mum said: “Because of you I could not look at my beautiful daughter’s face one last time.
“All I could do to say goodbye was hold and kiss her hand in the morgue of a hospital while she lay otherwise completely covered under a blanket.
“You did that. Because of you I had to tell three frightened and confused children that their mummy was dead.
“I had to look into the eyes of my granddaughter and tell her that daddy was in prison because he had hurt mummy so badly that she had died.
“She will no longer look at me and has not hugged me properly since that day.
“I have to live with that. But there is one thing you did not do. You did not ruin my life. I do not give you that power.”