In the early hours one morning a loud noise woke the neighbors of a mother and daughter. The incident was so unnerving that the authorities were called to investigate.
The mother loved her job as a wedding planner and treated every couple with the utmost love and respect. What turned out to be her last ever post on Facebook was heartbreaking for so many reasons. When police arrived, even they were shocked by the scene that faced them.
Laura Mortimer, 31, and Ella Dalby, 11, were as close as any mother and daughter could be. It was Sunday night when Mortimer went to say goodnight to Ella who she assumed was getting ready for bed. When she opened her bedroom door, Ella wasn’t in bed at all but was sitting at her dressing table putting on makeup. Mortimer knew she had to take a picture and post it to Facebook; Ella was simply too adorable.
Mortimer lived with Ella and two younger daughters (Ella’s stepsisters) from her current marriage to Chris Boon. While the two younger children were staying elsewhere that night, Mortimer grabbed her phone and took a picture of Ella sitting at her vanity. When she uploaded it to her Facebook page, with the caption “Go to say goodnight and she’s there doing her makeup – such a princess,” she garnered a bunch of likes from her social media friends.
At around 4:50 am the next day, neighbors were awoken by a loud bang from Mortimer’s house and immediately contacted emergency services. A neighbor, 20-year-old Phillica Tabanor, who lived next door spoke about the incident: “I wasn’t at home when it happened, but my mum called me this morning to say [something happened at the neighbor’s house].”
When police arrived at the house they found both Mortimer and Ella dead at the scene. Mortimer’s father, Richard Mortimer, spoke to reporters about the sudden and tragic loss of his daughter and granddaughter. He told reporters that he failed to understand why anyone would want to murder his daughter, who founded her own wedding planning company called Sweet Beginnings. Calling Mortimer his “lollipop” and saying she was a “loving and caring mother,” Richard’s grief was clear to all.
Richard hadn’t processed the tragedy that had befallen his family. “It’s not quite hit me yet,” he said. “I don’t know much about what has happened. … Ella had just started at Barnwood Parks School — she was just a beautiful little girl. I don’t know what would make anyone do a thing like that.”
After news got out about the deaths of the mother and daughter, friends noted that Mortimer had been through a difficult few months. When people reached out to her at the time, she thanked them for their support via social media: “When you get supportive random messages they lift you and make you realize who you are what you have achieved and that I don’t only help myself I help other people out there.”
Despite her difficulties, Mortimer loved life and always took the opportunity to share that sentiment with others and to remain positive. “Yes I’ve had another s*** year but bring it on nothing could ever bring me down … I absolutely love life,” she wrote at the time. But even more support for the family came flooding in after the tragic incident.
Rest in Peace
A close friend of the family, Amy Harris, wrote on Facebook after hearing the news about the deaths: “In such shock and completely gutted to hear the devastating news I have no words. Laura, I’m so sorry rest in peace to you and your daughter. This feels so wrong.” And there was even more heartfelt support for the family, also posted to social media.
Waste of Life
Sheryl Fish who worked together with Mortimer in the wedding industry had a message of her own. “Hug your loved ones closer today. RIP Laura and Ella. What a waste of life,” she wrote. While another colleague, Laura Bloom, also wrote, “RIP Laura & your daughter Ella! Absolutely tragic!!!!! Really feel for your other two little princesses now to be left without their mummy & big sister!”
While a police tent had been erected at the house to carry out forensic tests, another neighbor, April McMillan, also spoke about the incident. “I woke up at 4:30 am this morning hearing a loud bang,” she explained. “I didn’t think anything of it because we’ve had road works around and there’s been lots of bangs, but this one was on its own. … I stayed awake for another two hours and didn’t hear anything more. There are lots of police about; it’s very shocking — I can’t believe it.”
According to yet another neighbor from this tight-knit community, Kelly Fraser, “We feel shocked.” Fraser had to take an alternative route while walking her dog due to the police cordon. “It just seems so sad. This is not a bad area. You really feel for the people involved.”
In the Dark
For Mortimer’s brother, Bradley Warren, the incident is made worse by the fact that they are still in the dark, having been told almost nothing by police. “We haven’t been told anything about what’s happening,” Warren said. But he has his suspicions about what took place that night. He spoke to reporters about the top window of the house being wide open, suggesting a break in.
In the Middle
Warren explained further: “We live right in the middle of the cordon. At about 5 am there were police cars coming one by one. I noticed the top window of one of the houses was wide open.” This indicated that it may have been a home invasion gone wrong. The official police statement also revealed little about what had happened.
Police went on to confirm that someone had been arrested in connection with the case. “A 28-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of the woman and the girl.” However, the police are still appealing for more information from the public. “Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Gloucestershire Constabulary on 101 quoting incident 73.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Gloucestershire Police released an official statement to the public: “At 4:50 am today, police were called to an address in Dexter Way, Gloucester where it was reported that two people had been seriously injured.” He continued, “A 31-year-old woman and an 11-year-old girl were declared dead at the scene.” But the most interesting part of that statement was yet to come.
As is so often the case with such murders, the killer is someone close to the family. In this case, it’s allegedly from inside the family. Police eventually picked up Mortimer’s husband as the prime suspect.
The man charged with the double murder is 28-year-old Christopher Boon. He made an appearance for just three minutes at the Cheltenham Magistrates Court recently, which was packed with people interested in the case. Flanked by custody officers, Boon simply replied “Yes” when the clerk asked him to confirm his name. Then the charges were read aloud.
The clerk said to Boon, “You are charged with two offenses, one that on May 28 in Gloucester you murdered Laura Boon, nee Mortimer, and also that you murdered Ella Dalby.” But the clerk then explained that the matter needed to be accelerated: “These matters must go to the Crown Court.”
Boon was permitted to sit as prosecutor Jeremy Oliver told the court that the case needed to go before the Bristol Crown Court in the following days. When Boon’s defense attorney Ryan O’Donnell was asked if his client wished to make any indication of his pleas to the charges, O’Donnell said there was “no indication.”
Since the police cordons were removed from the house, numerous floral tributes have been left outside the house for the slain mother and daughter. Meanwhile, according to the Mirror, Mortimer’s mother wrote: “To my very beautiful daughter Laura and beautiful granddaughter Ella. You will always be in my heart and be loved and missed very much. Lots of love, sleep tight, Mum and Hen.” The case is ongoing pending trial at the Bristol Crown Court.