It was August of 2016, when Brittney Jade Dwyer and her accomplice, Bernadette Burns, traveled to Adelaide, Austrailia from Queensland with the intention of stealing her 81-year-old grandfather’s life savings.
Arriving at her grandfather’s home at approximately 11 am, Dwyer went inside wearing rubber gloves and carrying a knife. Burns waited in the car outside, anxiously anticipating Dwyer to return with the money. Dwyer would return, but told Burns after looking through family photos and videos with her grandfather, she decided she couldn’t go through with murdering him.
It was not the news that Burns wanted to hear. Burns proceeded to give Dwyer a few words of encouragement, insisting that they had already traveled “all this way” and that they had both swore that they would take Dwyer’s grandfather’s savings “by any means necessary.”
Dwyer returned and proceeded to stab her grandfather, Robert Whitwell, in both the chest and neck. She then went into Whitwell’s kitchen and washed dishes as he bled to death on the floor. After cleaning up, Dwyer picked up her phone and texted Burns, “it’s done.”
Receiving the message, Burns walked into Whitwell’s home and began helping Dwyer search for her grandfather’s savings. They were able to find approximately $1,000 worth of coins, as well as two digital cameras. They failed to recover the $110,000 Whitwell had hidden in his shed.
It would be three days before Whitwell’s body was discovered. Both women were arrested shortly after authorities learned of the murder and pleaded guilty before a judge.
Dwyer’s lawyer has since asked the judge presiding over the case, Justice Nicholson, to show leniency towards Dwyer. According to court records cited by Fox News, Dwyer was only 18 at the time of the murder. Her young age in conjunction with drug abuse, a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, and an obsession with the FX series American Horror Story influenced Dwyer to act out of character, the defense alleged.
While Dwyer’s defense claims that the young woman has expressed great remorse for what she had done, a judge overruled her council’s recommendations.
“To have got to the age of 18 and gone from zero to premeditated murder in these circumstances only for the reasons she had suggests a very worrying person,” Justice Nicholson stated.
Dwyer’s family also agrees, with Dwyer’s brother calling for her to receive the maximum penalty for the murder of their grandfather.
Both Burns and Dwyer are scheduled to be sentenced on November 7, 2017.