Countdown To Murder – My happy, laughing daughter was stabbed 20 times in the neck by boyfriend in twisted joke

AS Natalie Jarvis lay dying on the cold, wet road, after being stabbed by her on-off boyfriend 20 times in the neck, she begged him to call her mum.

But callous Adam Whelehan picked up her phone and threw it into a nearby field – denying her the chance to die in her mum’s arms.

The murder of the bubbly 23-year-old, from Swanley, Kent, started as a sick joke among Whelehan’s friends, but spiralled out of control into a brutal reality.

Egged on by pals, Whelehan – also 23 – launched a brutal and premeditated attack on Natalie in October 2012 after asking her to come out for a late night drive.

Natalie’s senseless killing – which features in this week’s Countdown to Murder on 5Star – left the family heartbroken.

In an emotional interview with Sun Online, mum Adele said Natalie’s death has “destroyed everything” and left the family devastated.

And the knowledge that her daughter died, begging to be with her mum, is one of the hardest things for her to bear.

“It broke my heart when I heard that because I know I was the last thing on her mind and she wanted me to help her,” she says.

“Whelehan denied me the chance to be with her. It hurts so much to think that I couldn't stop it. It was out of my control. I couldn’t have helped her but I could have held her.”

Dad Mark adds: “Natalie was the beating heart of this family. We now live in a constant void.”

Cruel nickname mocking weight

Outgoing and bubbly, Natalie was a popular young woman with a close-knit, loving family.

“She was a bundle of energy, with more friends than you can shake a stick at,” says Mark.

“Natalie was the life and soul of the party.”

Adele says she loved her job at McDonald’s, because of the social side of it, and adds: “She was always happy, always laughing and didn’t take life seriously.”

The end of a long term relationship, in 2012, left her heartbroken so when she started going on dates with Adam Whelehan, that summer, her family were relieved.

“I was happy for her because she had been in a very dark place,” says Adele. “This man had come into her life and appeared to be putting some happiness back into it.”

Although she told her mum Adam wasn’t her boyfriend, the romance appeared to be heading that way.

“She didn’t put a label on it, but she wasn’t seeing anybody else and they were in a sexual relationship,” says Adele.

“They ate out and went to the cinema, doing everything a normal couple did.

“She gave us no cause to believe there was anything wrong with the relationship.”

But while Whelehan was attentive to her face, he was increasingly derogatory about Natalie to his friends, mocking her size and calling her ‘JC’ – a cruel reference to comedian James Corden.

Chilling messages from 'murderous mind'

After a few months of dating, the jokes took a sinister twist.

Whelehan said that Natalie told him she was pregnant, although the autopsy provided no evidence of this.

His tweets and text messages began to mention murder.

On July 23, he tweeted: “It’s alright to kill someone these days isn’t it? I think I might do it.”

A week later he wrote: “I think I might do it. #murderousmind.”

His three best friends responded by goading him on in a string of texts which got darker as the weeks went on.

One pal’s message urged him to stab her and another one texted, on September 30, “Killed anyone tonight?”

Chillingly, he replied “Only in my mind”.

While he continued to see Natalie, and have sex with her, the sick joke sparked a real plan in Whelehan’s head.

At one point, three weeks before the murder, he texted pals to say: “I’m going to do JC tomorrow.”

His three friends didn't try to talk him out of it.

'Kidnap' plea and thwarted murder plot

On October 1, 2012, he called Natalie and told her he was taking her to Burger King.

But after driving around for several hours, Natalie seemed to panic and wrote on her Facebook page: “I’ve been kidnapped. Can someone come and rescue me!!!”

But when sister Gemma – who called Natalie her “best friend” – rang, she laughed it off as a joke.

Whelehan later told pals the post had thwarted his sick plan, telling them: “I had the knife ready and everything.”

Two days later, after coming home from an evening shift at work, Natalie took a call from Whelehan and bounced into her mum’s room to say she was going out in the car with him.

Then she cuddled Adele and left – still in her pyjamas – with a “love you mum.”

Left bleeding to death with 20 stab wounds

Unbeknown to Natalie, Whelehan’s friend was hiding in the boot of his car when he collected her from home.

After driving for a short while, Natalie noticed the boot’s warning light was on and asked Whelehan to stop.

But when they both got out, in a quiet country road, Whelehan grabbed a multitool with a knife from the car, and stabbed Natalie 20 times in the neck.

She tried to escape, staggering from one side of the road to the other before collapsing 150 metres from where she was first attacked. She begged him to call Adele.

After throwing her phone as far as he could, Whelehan got back in the car – which had been turned around by his friend so that the vicious attack was caught in the headlights – and drove away.

Although Natalie was found by passers-by a few minutes later, paramedics declared her dead at 11.30pm.

“It was dark and raining that night,” says dad Mark. “She didn’t stand a chance down there.”

After the murder, Whelehan met up with the rest of his mates and bought alcohol and cigars. He even joked about the murder – handing his pal bloodstained bank notes.

But in the early hours of the morning, he walked into Bexleyheath police station, still covered in blood, and said: “I think I’ve killed someone.”

Distraught at identifying body

When Adele got up for work, at 6.20am the following day, she discovered Natalie hadn’t come home.

After calling Gemma and pals, she called the police and told them she was worried Natalie had been in an accident and couldn’t be identified because she was in her pyjamas.

An hour later, a policeman turned up and told them: "We believe we’ve found your daughter’s body."

“Worst moment of my life," says Mark."It just knocked the stuffing right out of me.”

Adele initially reacted with fury. “I screamed at him 'How dare you come into my house and tell me my daughter's dead?

“We didn’t believe it. We didn't want to believe it. We were numb, praying it wasn’t her.”

The heartbroken parents had to wait for two days before they could identify the body, a process that haunts them both today.

“My brother-in-law says he will never forget my scream,” says Adele.

“We weren't allowed to touch her, we had to look at her through glass, but in the end they let us in the room because we were so distraught and we were only allowed to kiss her face.”

I’ve always fought for my family but I just couldn't do anything. I've never felt so worthless in all my life.

Mark adds: “The pain was off the scale.

“Men like to think that they are hard as nails and can deal with anything. But when the curtain came back, I felt physically sick.

“I turned away and then I was on my hands and knees in the toilet, retching, and I could hear Adele's screams.

“I’ve always fought for my family but I just couldn't do anything. I've never felt so worthless in all my life.”

Cruel killer pleads self-defence

To add to their pain, Whelehan claimed he acted in self-defence and pleaded not guilty.

In the subsequent trial, he branded Natalie ‘manipulative’ and falsely claimed she had been stalking and harassing him.

But prosecutors revealed that the 1200 texts and numerous calls between the pair over the six weeks before she died, were equally split and Whelehan picked Natalie up to take her out several times.

When the texts between his pals emerged, it was clear that the murder was premeditated – and he even boasted about throwing away her phone in her dying minutes.

“All they could do was assassinate Natalie's character because Whelehan’s defence lawyer had nothing to work with,” says Mark.

In April 2013, Whelehan was found guilty of murder and jailed for 26 years.

His friend, who had been in the boot of the car, was acquitted of murder under the “joint enterprise” act, which allows accomplices to be prosecuted.

For Mark, Adele and Gemma, there still remains a huge question over this senseless murder – why did Whelehan choose to kill Natalie?

“We had a perfect little family and he wrecked it just like that. And for what? For nothing,” says Adele.

“Natalie was a normal woman living her life the way she should be and he destroyed that.

“People like him don’t realise the devastation they cause.

“There's a ripple effect, and it’s destroyed relationships with my family and friends, because we're miserable and people don’t know what to say.

“There's a lot of pressure on me and Mark as a couple. Thank God we're still together. I've told him 100 times to go and find someone to make him happy and he says, 'I'm not going anywhere.’

“But I feel like a burden to Mark and Gemma. I have to wear a mask, to hide how broken I am but I'll never be OK.

“Life after Natalie is sad. It's empty. It’s lonely. She was my baby girl and I just want her back.”

Countdown To Murder airs on 5Star at 9pm on Tuesdays


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