'She was the love of his life. Then he killed her': Daughters share the story of why their father murdered their mother

Graham Glover murdered the wife he adored because of a little-known aspect of dementia. His daughters share their story with Simon Usborne

Dying daffodils were the first sign something was wrong. Graham and Marjorie Glover were at home in Swansea a month after celebrating their golden wedding anniversary on the Orient Express. Their eldest daughter, Nicky, was visiting. She remembers her parents as a warm, loving couple. They still held hands and, in summer, Marjorie liked to watch from her sun lounger as Graham tended to his flower beds.

“The front garden was always immaculate,” Nicky says. “They lived in a beautiful bungalow with a zigzag bed that was a mass of flowers in spring.” But the yellow bloom had withered and the dead plants were still in the ground. “Dad never left the daffodils in dying like that.”

Two days later, Nicky, who’s now 49, was walking into a service station on the M5 as she drove home to Yorkshire. Her phone rang. It was her father. “He sounded awful. At first I thought he’d gone into work and been taken ill, but then he said he’d taken some tablets. ‘Dad, what have you done?’ I asked. He said, ‘there’s nothing you can do for me now’.” Nicky stopped walking. “Dad,” she asked, “where’s Mum?” When her father replied, Nicky remembers screaming so loudly that she stunned the busy service station into silence: “Mum’s dead.”

Graham, 73, had murdered Marjorie, who was 70 and the only love of his life. He smothered her with a handkerchief while gripping her neck with his other hand. Afterwards, he sat talking to her body before taking an overdose of paracetamol washed down with whisky. Then he called his daughter, who dialled 999. “If I hadn’t been so quick off the mark, he might have died,” Nicky says. “Part of me wishes he had, but then we wouldn’t have found out why he did it. We needed to know.”

Ten years after their mother’s murder, Nicky and her sister, Lisa, 43, sit at the dining table at Lisa’s house in Pontardawe, a small town outside Swansea. They each have a mug of tea and share a box of tissues. It is the first time they have felt ready to come together to recall that weekend and the full horror of what followed. They feel they need to tell their story.

“I’ve been dreading this but if it rang a little warning bell that prevented some little family being torn apart like ours was, or just heightened awareness, it will have been worth it,” Nicky says. “Because it wasn’t my Dad that killed my Mum, it was his illness.”

The daffodils were a visible sign of the dementia that had been slowly damaging Glover’s brain for years. High cholesterol had contributed to momentary pauses in its blood supply. These transient ischaemic attacks, or mini strokes, had passed unnoticed, or as “funny turns”. But, over time, the damage they caused was affecting Glover’s ability to think rationally.

After Nicky had pulled out the flowers herself, her father joined her in the garden. She asked him what was wrong. “There was this stony silence at first. Then Dad told me they were about to split up and that Mum was involved with another man. I couldn’t believe what he was telling me.”

Graham never gave up his belief that Marjorie had been having an affair, despite all evidence that it was impossible. He later admitted to watching the house from his car, and following his wife to the hairdresser. “At one point he had my 70-year-old Mum climbing over a wall,” Nicky says. “She had arthritis!”

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, 800,000 people in Britain have one of dozens of types of dementia. Glover had vascular dementia, the second most common form after Alzheimer’s. It can cause memory problems, confusion and depression. Symptoms may also include delusions such as morbid jealousy - the unswayable belief that a partner is being unfaithful. In rare cases, this can lead to violence or even murder.

Nicky woke up still reeling from her father’s claims the night before. Marjorie asked what her father had been saying. “She could tell I wasn’t right, but I told her I didn’t want to get involved,” Nicky says. She had decided she would go home the next day as planned and then return to sort things out. “It haunts me to this day that Mum died not knowing that - before I could do anything."

After an anxious evening and a second sleepless night, Nicky said goodbye to her parents. Her father hugged her and told her not to forget how much he loved her. At some point in the following two hours, before the phone call, the couple argued about the imagined affair in their kitchen, a row that resulted in Marjorie’s murder. The next time Nicky saw her father, it was through glass at Swansea prison.

Lisa keeps a “memory box” under a bed upstairs. She brings it to the table and pulls out a souvenir plate from Hong Kong decorated with a photo of her parents. They took regular holidays while continuing to work in semi-retirement. Graham was an insurance broker and Marjorie a hairdresser. “They were so devoted,” Lisa says. “When I first had kids Mum would come up and help before going back to get my father’s tea. I asked her what would happen if she didn’t. Nothing, she said - she just liked being there when he came in from work.”

Nicky, who has travelled back to Wales from South Yorkshire, where she lives with her husband, Garry, remembers a “very happy, ordinary” family. “We had the best of everything,” she says. “Tennis lessons, swimming lessons, brownies, guides - whatever we wanted to do.” Mum was a “bubbly, glamourous woman who lit up any room.” Dad was “a lovely, docile bloke, very gentle - he never laid his hand on anybody before this.”

But the sisters saw a shadow of their father after three days in which he had been treated for his overdose and locked up. “His hair had gone from grey to snow-white,” Lisa recalls. “When he tried to smile he looked like all the life and joy had been drained completely out of him. He didn’t look like Dad anymore.”

Nicky describes that first stage of grief as a “gaping hole - we were just bouncing off who ever told us what to do.” As well as feeling as if they had lost both parents, the sisters faced a storm of media interest in a quiet community shaken by murder. News crews descended on the Glovers’ street as gossip spread about a murderous pensioner. But the sisters never blamed their father.They believed he was a second victim of his illness, even before scans revealed the extent of the damage to his brain. “I was angry because I wanted something more substantive, a really good reason for all this happening to us,” Lisa says of her father’s delusions. “But I wasn’t angry with him.”

Nick Fox is a professor of neurology at University College London and one of Britain’s leading dementia research specialists. He says delusions can also include the belief that somebody is still alive, that somebody has stolen something or that a partner has been replaced by an imposter. He says extreme violence is, thankfully, rare. Professor Fox emphasises the importance of healthy living. High blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes can all affect the brain’s crucial supply of blood, often insidiously. “Anyone concerned should seek help from a doctor,” he says. “It may be nothing but it may well be something very treatable.”

While there are ways to resist some dementias and alleviate some symptoms, there is no cure. Fox is part of the race to find one. The number of sufferers is expected to reach a million by 2021. One in three people now aged over 65 can expect to develop it. “I don’t think society has fully woken up to what demographic change means unless we can find therapies,” Fox says.

A secondary challenge is the stigma of dementia. Almost half those who have the condition are not diagnosed, despite many realising they are unwell. “We need more understanding of dementia rather than giving people grief at Sainsbury’s when they’re a bit slow,” Fox says. “There is also a culture that says you have to soldier on and not talk about possible symptoms. People shouldn’t feel they are failing if they need help.”

Glover was committed to a secure psychiatric hospital after three months in prison. Five months later, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was ordered to remain at the hospital. Despite his remorse and sense of loss, he would not let go of his delusions, while others developed. At one point he believed his carers were trying to kill him, and that Nicky was on their side. “He was very poorly,” she says.

Between visits to their father, the sisters had to rebuild their own lives. Nicky, who works as an admin assistant, struggled with the sense of guilt she felt for not reacting quickly enough to her father’s revelations. Lisa, a fitness trainer for people with health problems, has suffered from depression, with added pressures from her own family. She has three children with her husband, Carwyn, who were aged five, four and two at the time of the murder. Catrin, the eldest, was was aware that Granny had not died peacefully. “She told me about a nightmare she was having with a bogeyman in this leather jacket,” Lisa says. “I thought, God, that’s my father’s jacket.”

The family took advice and decided to tell the children what had happened, clearly and calmly. Lisa pulls from the memory box an activity book designed for bereaved children. A page headed “How Did they Die?” invites the reader to draw a picture. Lisa had written “Grandpa killed Grandma” but the page is otherwise blank. “They didn’t want to do it in the book,” she says. A separate piece of paper shows a drawing of a kitchen. On one side, a man stands with a sad face. On the other side, a woman, also with a sad face, is lying on the floor wearing a floral blouse.

Later, Nicky, who doesn’t have children, remembers Catrin counselling her before she visited the psychiatric hospital. “Don’t be mad with grandpa, she said, his brain is broken’.” Lisa says it took more than a year for the children to overcome the trauma. Grief still affects the whole family, she adds, but they have “learned to live alongside it.”

As well as raising awareness of dementia, the sisters want to address those who shunned them for their loyalty to their father, and restore his image. “People who were quite close to us wouldn’t have anything to do with us because they refused to accept Dad was mentally ill,” Nicky says.

“I remember standing in the queue at WHSmith one day and everyone gossiping,” Lisa adds. “They said something about this pensioner brutally murdering his wife and I thought, if only you knew how docile he was, you don’t know what you’re talking about. He was ill.”

In 2005, Glover was diagnosed with cancer. He died in hospital the following summer, almost three and a half years after killing his wife. “I had this image in my head that if there were a heaven my Mum would be stood at the gates saying, right, you’re going to be sorry for this,” Nicky says. “But he died very peacefully in his sleep and there was only a tremendous sense of calm. He wanted to be with her."

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Apprentice IT Technician

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

    1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

    £153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

    1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

    Sales Associate Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit