Ex-wife of murderer speaks out about her family’s terrifying knifepoint ordeal
It's shocking how a single act of violent brutality can tear apart a family forever, leave victims traumatised for life, and even kill innocent people. One person who knows this all too well is Elizabeth Kemp, the ex-wife of alcoholic killer Mark Stephens, who held his family hostage in a bedroom while threatening them with blades, before stabbing his own mother 38 times with a carving knife and a fork. Now Kemp has opened up about the frightening ordeal she endured, as well as the years of domestic abuse she suffered at Stephens' hands.
Primary school teacher Elizabeth first met Mark back in 1991 at a nightclub, and immediately formed a romantic connection; getting married in 1999. They had two daughters, one in 2006, and another in 2008. Although Mark was an affectionate father, Elizabeth was concerned with how much he was drinking, and how much his drinking was changing him. He would fly into drunken rages; upending furniture and smashing glasses, while emotionally and verbally abusing Elizabeth. In 2012 while eating a pub lunch, the couple argued and Mark pushed her too far. Elizabeth announced she was leaving him. That was when things took a turn for the macabre.
On the evening of 27 October, 2012, an inebriated Stephens entered his daughter's bedroom, brandishing two kitchen knives, before threatening them that they would soon "make headlines." However, Elizabeth confronted him and fearlessly stood her ground while he threatened her, and after 15 tense minutes, Stephens went back downstairs and passed out in the living room. While he dozed, Elizabeth and her daughters fled to her parents' house and called the police. Stephens was arrested shortly after.
Commenting on the terrifying incident, Elizabeth stated: "In that moment in that room I did believe he was going to kill us ... He’d throw things around the room. One Christmas he came home drunk and threw the kids’ toys everywhere. He never hit me, but he’d push me or trip me up. It was more mental abuse, saying, ‘Nobody else will want you, you’re worthless’. He’d make me feel bad about myself."
Despite the hell that Stephens had put Elizabeth and her children through, Mark's mother Rita was convinced that he was not as dangerous as she made out, and tried to convince Elizabeth to drop the charges. Despite that, Mark pleaded guilty to affray at Swansea Crown Court and was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years. Rita pursued another relationship with a former flame, and the girls still saw their father for occasional visits. But then, in June 2015, everything changed. Mark fell into another rage after a night of heavy drinking with his brother, and attacked and killed Rita. He was later found guilty and sentenced at Swansea Crown Court to a minimum of 20 years in prison.
Commenting on her mother-in-law's unfortunate fate, Elizabeth stated: "Mark’s sister Kirsty called saying, ‘He’s killed her, my mum’s dead and it was Mark who did it.’ I couldn’t believe it. I fell to my knees in shock ... We were lucky to escape with our lives. But I never imagined Mark would kill his own mother. I wish the family had listened to me ... [Rita] couldn't believe that he was dangerous, even though he threatened to kill us."