“What were her last words? Did she ask for us?”

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For years, Jack Sepple and Ashley Wadsworth were modern-day pen pals who used the internet to bridge the 4,500-mile (7,242km) distance between them. But just months after 19-year-old Ashley decided to leave Canada to start a new life living with Sepple in the UK, he murdered her. What happened?


“It is so traumatising to think of her last moments,” says Ashley’s mother Christy Gendron. “How scared she must have been, what her last words were, did she ask for us?

“I’ll never know. Two people know – one has gone and the other probably wouldn’t tell the truth anyway.”

Ashley, from Vernon in British Columbia, arrived in the UK to live with 23-year-old Sepple at his one-bedroom flat in Tennyson Road, Chelmsford, last November.


As a young girl, Ashley loved horse riding, skiing and boating. She delayed starting her university degree in law because of the Covid pandemic and took a number of jobs with fast food restaurants, a home supply firm and the local waterslides in British Columbia.

On 1 February this year, police found Ashley had been both strangled and repeatedly stabbed in the chest. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Sepple was sitting in bed next to her body when he was found by police.

After admitting Ashley’s murder, Sepple has been sentenced to life with a minimum term of 23 years and six months.

Ashley was something of a human “Spitfire”, according to her mother, Ms Gendron.

“She was amazing,” she says. ” She was inquisitive, she was adventurous, into sports and was always outside. 

“She was a ball of energy.”

As a young girl, Ashley loved horse riding, skiing and boating.

Then, when she was about 12 years old, a friend in Vernon introduced her to an English boy online – Jack Sepple.

For the next seven years Ashley and Sepple “were pen pals on Facebook”, says Ms Gendron.

“It wasn’t a relationship,” she says. “They’d be off and on and talk for a bit and then, as they got older, he would date and so they wouldn’t [talk].”

Despite having never met him in person, Sepple’s face was a regular part of the family’s life in Vernon. Ashley and he would speak via FaceTime in the family living room. If Ms Gendron was passing, she would say hello to him.

Ashley with her family on holiday

Ashley became a Mormon at the age of 18 after having what she described to her mother as a “God moment”.

Then, Ashley decided she wanted to move to the UK to be with Sepple.

Ms Gendron was worried about the idea.

Ashley with Chrissy (left) and other family fembers

“But there was no stopping her, she was a Leo.

“Every guy Ashley would meet was always compared to him, it was always back to Jack. 

“I thought the worst thing that will happen is she’ll go, they won’t work out and then she’ll come home,” she says.

“I didn’t even, I mean, murder did not cross my mind.”

Ashley had raised her growing concerns about Sepple’s behaviour with her family and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chelmsford. A flight home to Canada was booked for 3 February.

But two days before she was due to leave the UK, Sepple stabbed her to death.


Ken Wadsworth, Ashley’s father

“I woke up in the morning of 1 February,” says Ken Wadsworth, Ashley’s father, “and my daughter Hailey was on the phone saying, ‘my sister is dead – Ashley’s dead, Ashley’s dead, Jack’s murdered her’.”

He then remembers ending the call with Hailey and calling the police in Canada, saying he feared his daughter was in England and might be dead.

A short while later, Mr Wadsworth was called by an officer from Essex Police.

He learned his daughter, a girl he remembers as “a wild, crazy little kid who wanted to do anything and everything”, was dead.

“Your heart breaks,” he says. “I went to the doctor and said ‘I’m having all these chest pains, they don’t go away’ and he said that was heartache.

“It is really tough – that’s your baby girl and she’s gone. There aren’t words to describe that sorrow.

“She was a bubblegum candy kid and definitely not afraid to say what she felt. 

“She was amazing and full of love,” he says. “We gave her freedom and she used it.”

Ken travelled to the UK with his wife Charmaine to handle the paperwork and collect Ashley’s body.

“It was the worst moment ever for me,” he says.

Sepple, who moved into Tennyson Road with a previous partner in April 2020, murdered Ashley because he was angry that she wanted to return home to Canada.

At about 08:00 GMT on 1 February, a neighbour heard Ashley screaming before the 19-year-old knocked on her door in distress.

Ashley told her she had been beaten up by Sepple and the kitten they shared – Winston – had been thrown against a wall. 

The teenager explained how Sepple had caught her looking at a picture of a naked woman and had smashed her telephone, called her lesbian and then assaulted her.

Ashley told the neighbour she feared Sepple was going to kill her.

She went to speak with Sepple and found him to be calm, before returning with Ashley. Sepple apologised to Ashley before the neighbour left for an appointment.

At about midday, Ashley sent a number of messages to her friends at the Mormon Church in Chelmsford. She said it was an emergency and she needed help.

A couple of hours later, further messages – written by Sepple – were sent, claiming everything was now OK.

Concerned, Ashley’s church friends Jamie Ashworth and Taeylr Borden visited the Tennyson Road property. When there was no answer, they called the police.

After strangling and stabbing Ashley to death, he left her dead body in the bed they shared and FaceTimed his sister Nadia. 

He was on that call when police broke into his home at 16:00 GMT.

Sepple has a long history of offences for online harassment, assault and breaching restraining orders dating back to 2014.

Before murdering Ashley, he was charged with a number of offences relating to a previous partner.

The allegations included false imprisonment, assault and coercive and controlling behaviour.

But when the victim did not attend the trial, the prosecution offered no evidence and Sepple was made subject of a non-conviction restraining order.

“We had no idea of his history,” says Mr Wadsworth. “I feel like… I sent her to the wolves.”

Both Mr Wadsworth and Ms Gendron want others to learn from Ashley’s story.

“If something doesn’t feel right, act. Don’t listen to them saying ‘it is OK now, we’re better’,” says Ms Gendron. 

“If you know in your gut that your sister, your friend, your aunt, your mum or your daughter is in a situation or a relationship like that, then definitively call the police and intervene, step in.”

“Ladies, guys, look at the person before you date them,” Mr Wadsworth says. “Use your wits and be aware.”

We asked Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust whether it had reviewed its contact with Sepple in light of the murder case.

Paul Scott, the trust’s chief executive, said: “Our thoughts remain with the families affected by this tragic incident.

“We are committed to continually learning and improving to provide the best possible care for those who rely on us.”

Chrissy Gendron, Ashley’s mother

Ashley adored her older sister Hailey and Hailey’s daughter Paisley.

“There were her number one and her number two,” says Ms Gendron.

“Ashley was the backbone of the four of us,” says Ms Gendron. “She was the strongest I’d say – the most courageous and had the most energy.

“She would keep us together, going out together and doing stuff and losing her is like losing an arm or a leg. She was part of us.”

Ms Gendron no longer remembers the telephone call in which she learned of Ashley’s death.

She does, however, remember her knees giving way and collapsing to the floor while holding the telephone.

“I couldn’t go there and in my head I was thinking they could be wrong,” she says. 

She now believes the state of shock she experienced in the days after Ashley’s murder helped insulate her from the horror of what had happened.

She describes being in a permanently restless state in the days and weeks following Ashley’s death and the utter heartbreak of picking out clothing for Ashley to wear for her funeral.

Ms Gendron and Mr Wadsworth travelled to the UK to see Sepple sentenced before journeying around the UK to follow in Ashley’s footsteps.

“Great, he’s going to get time – but in the UK, like Canada, life is only 25 years,” says Ms Gendron. 

“Ultimately, it won’t bring her back.”

Ms Gendron told how she and and Hailey pore over the multitude of lively and humorous videos Ashley made.

“We laugh a lot and we cry a lot,” she says. “But it is not easy, because those are memories. 

“We will cherish them, but that is all we have.”

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