Watch CBS News

U.K. man gets 37 years for fatally poisoning couple with fentanyl, rewriting their will

Front lines of America's fentanyl crisis
On the front lines of America's fentanyl crisis 04:24

A British man has been sentenced to 37 years in prison after poisoning a husband and wife with fentanyl and reworking their will to seize control of their business. 

 The sentence for Luke D'Wit is "among the most significant sentences ever secured" after an investigation by Essex Police Department officers, the department said in a news release.

D'Wit, 34, first met Carol Baxter in 2014, when they were introduced by a mutual friend. D'Wit then began working as an IT consultant for the Baxters' business, which sold specialty curved bathmats. 

Over nearly 10 years, D'Wit created "more than 20 personas" which he used to communicate with Carol Baxter and her daughter Ellie, the police news release said. One of those fake personas was as a doctor who was experienced in dealing with Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disease that Baxter had been diagnosed with. 

Posing as Andrea Bowden, D'Wit made medical suggestions that Carol Baxter followed. These health directions "led to a continued deterioration in her health," the news release said. D'Wit also posed as fictitious patients of the made-up doctor and even sent voice memos where he affected a female voice to convince Carol Baxter he was a woman named Jenny. These interactions "manipulated and controlled Carol Baxter in the two years before her death" and and allowed D'Wit to exert the "ultimate form of control," said Lord Justice Lavender, the presiding judge on the case. 

Carol and Stephen Baxter. Essex Police

The couple frequently interacted with D'Wit before their deaths. He visited their home often, the BBC reported. Ellie Baxter told the BBC her parents were "irritated" by these visits. 

D'Wit last visited the couple on April 7, 2023. Ellie Baxter found her parents dead on April 9 - Easter Sunday. Police found no injuries or obvious causes of death, and carbon monoxide poisoning was quickly ruled out. Toxicology reports showed that both Carol and Stephen Baxter had "died as a result of lethal doses of fentanyl," the news release said. This spurred police to launch a murder investigation, which turned up the connection to D'Wit. 

During the course of the investigation, a search of the Baxter home led to the discovery of fentanyl patches and a fake will that left the couple's company to D'Wit. A different will had been left with the couple's lawyers. Police also found that a camera had been set up inside the Baxter home to watch them as they died.

D'Wit was arrested in July and charged with two counts of murder. When he was arrested, police discovered more fentanyl patches in his home as well as a bag of metal tacks and pill casings. Police believe those pills were previously given to Carol Baxter, who had once been admitted to the hospital and found to have tacks in her stomach. 

Luke D'Wit. Essex Police

D'Wit first told the court that he had worked with Stephen Baxter to develop the false personas, but that story fell apart under cross-examination, police said in the news release. Each message from a false persona was traced back to devices in D'Wit's possession. 

Lavender called the efforts "macabre" and based on a "significant degree of planning." Lydia George, the detective inspector who led the investigation into the murders, called D'Wit's actions those of a "pathological liar." 

"Today, though, is not about Luke D'Wit. And it's not about Essex Police. It's about Carol and Stephen and it's about their family," George said, after the sentencing was announced. "We know nothing will bring Carol and Stephen back. We know nothing can give the family back their loving mother, sister and grandmother or their generous father, brother, son and grandfather. However, I truly hope this sentence is of some comfort to the family as they move forward." 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.