‘Husband’s friends raped me while he laughed so I shot him and buried him’

Linda Couch was still a teenager when she met Walter at a wedding reception.

She was instantly smitten by the clean-cut handsome man and "couldn't believe" he wanted to date her.

So when Walter proposed just a few months into their relatonship, Linda jumped at the chance to become his wife when she was just 16.

Speaking to History's I Am A Killer Linda said: "I was still a teen and I thought I was in love. Now, I wish I'd never met him."

The teen bride says the start of the marriage was happy but she claims as soon as she fell pregnant with the couple's first child, Roxanne, things dramatically changed.

Linda said: "He pushed me down the stairs while I was pregnant with Roxanne and when I brought her home he made it clear that all the parenting was down to me.

"He would get angry every time she cried and the slightest thing she would do, he would beat her."

Walter's violence is something Roxanne remembers with heartbreaking clarity.

Now living in Ghana, Roxanne said: "My father had a temper than would go from zero to 80 in a split second. When I was a kid, I looked just like my mum and that wasn't what my father wanted.

"I wasn't pretty enough, my grades weren't good enough, I was never enough for him.

"I would be beaten every day. I got used to it, I just had to deal with it. He portrayed being such a loving father but that was just for show.

"It was an illusion that he created for everyone else. He would hit her and sometimes he would throw her up against the wall."

And then one night, Linda says things took a very dark turn.

Walter regularly enjoyed nights out with his friends and Linda remembers being woken up one night by all his pals in the bedroom she shared with her husband.

She said: "He said they wanted a part of me. I was raped by all his friends and Walt just watched and laughed.

"I felt trapped. Any time his friends came over, that would happen. Slowly but surely he was bringing me to a breakdown." 

Then, the young mum of three thought she had a way out – she had been accepted onto a college course, something Walter wasn't happy about.

Linda said: "College was going to be my escape because I would have been there and away from him.

"It angered him and he wanted me to quit the programme and stay at home with him.

"That was the first time in my marriage that I said no to my husband."

The couple argued about it and Linda claims Walter stormed out of the bedroom and went to grab a newly bought gun.

She says they struggled and she kicked him in the groin before grabbing hold of the gun.

Then Linda claims as she stumbled backwards, she tripped and the gun went off, shooting Walter in the head.

But instead of contacting the police immediately, what Linda did next was truly chilling.

Her trial heard that not only did she dig up the couple's vegetable patch for a shallow grave for her husband – she made her three children help her.

Linda has always insisted that what happened on that October night in 1984 was an accident and she did not mean to kill her abusive husband.

But the judge and jury did not agree and she has been in jail for his murder ever since.

In the months and weeks running up to shooting Walter in the head, Linda had taken out a number of bank loans and credit cards as part of her escape plan.

Her daughter, Roxanne, was with her and she was aware that time was running out.

Roxanne said: "I was her confidante and her best friend because she had no one else to speak to. Then all the loans all came due and the bank kept insisting that my father come in.

"She knew she had to prevent him from ever finding out what she had been doing. I don't know what he would have done but it wouldn't have been good for any of us."

Linda had also recently learned the deeds of the home the family lived in, which was owned by Walter's parents, had been transferred to him, which would have left her with nothing if she left him.

She forged a changed in the deeds, which now had her as the sole owner of the property.

And finally, in the days before Walter was shot, Linda bought her first ever gun – the one used to kill her husband, who was shot in the back of the head.

But Roxanne disputes that her mother prevented her daughter from being attacked by her father.

She also says she does not believe that her mother was raped by Walter's friends.

Roxanne said: "I didn't kill him but I felt horrible inside. She had my bury my father in the cold ground. That night's actions destroyed an entire family.

"She said she felt trapped but by her trying to get her freedom, she trapped us all.

"She never stood up for me. She would walk out of the door because she didn't want to see what he was doing.

"She tells stories and she likes to get sympathy. She could tell you a lie and you would believe it's the gospel truth because she believes her own lies."

Linda was sentenced to life for aggravated murder and has so  far been refused parole seven times.

Her next parole hearing is in 2020.

She said: "I feel like I've served my time."

  • Crime+Investigation's I Am A Killer is on tonight at 9pm.

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