Tag Archives: serial killer

The sex toys, the Home Secretary, the “rough” family and the serial killer(s?)j

I try to vary what is in this blog.

Comedy, media, a little bit of crime and sub-cultures that perhaps go under-reported. At heart, there is one major core – people, people, people – but quirky is always good too. Quirky funny or quirky worrying.

I guess today’s blog is on the quirky worrying side. Three stories…

This morning, I looked at my e-diary for 7th October 1999 and there was this entry:

Malcolm Hardee outside Grover Court in 1995

Comic Malcolm Hardee told me a story. I think it was true.

I talked to comedian Malcolm Hardee on the phone this evening. He said police had stopped the car of (an independent TV producer we both knew) when the producer was driving through London. They opened the boot of the car and found a vast collection of vibrators and sex aids. The News of the World newspaper had got hold of this story and (the producer) heard they knew, so he went to them in a pre-emptive strike, saying: “They were for a new TV comedy show.” This was not true. But the News of the World did not run the story.

Now back to 2014.

This morning I got an e-mail from John Ward – mad inventor and designer of the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards. He sent me a link to an online website.

Currently on this site, you can buy:

  • a slimline digital camcorder for £27 (reduced from £99.99)
  • a 5-piece ceramic non-stick saucepan set for £19.99 (reduced from £129.95)
  • an online do-it-yourself Forensic Psychology course for £29 (reduced from £220)
Save 87% now on an online Crime Scene Investigation course!

Save 87% now on an online Crime Scene Investigation course!

The online do-it-yourself Forensic Psychology course has “15 modules, including mental disorders, serial killers, abuse and more”.

The sales blurb reads:

There’s no denying our fascination with crime, from watching reruns of Breaking Bad to reading about real-life crime investigations. But if you’d like to delve deeper than the tabloids into the criminal psyche, we’ve seized just the deal… The course outlines the research methods required to understand criminal minds, covering mental disorders, psychiatric defences, eyewitness testimonies and more.

Module 9 of the course covers “Mental disorder as a defence.”

John Ward’s comment to me was: “I quite expect the next one to be about of How to Conduct Your Very Own Autopsy. It’s a strange world we survive in.”

Which brings me to Story Three…

Alan Johnson (left) at the Sohemian Society last night

Alan Johnson (left) chatted at the Sohemian Society last night

Last night, I went to a Sohemian Society meeting at which Labour MP Alan Johnson was talking about This Boy, the first volume of his autobiography, set in the squalor of 1950s and 1960s Notting Hill in London.

One tale linked Alan Johnson – a future Home Secretary – with a crime.

In Notting Hill, there was a young man called Johnny who was the brother of Alan Johnson’s sister’s boyfriend. Johnny came form a ‘rough’ family. You did not mess with this family.

Alan Johnson said last night: “Johnny had had his time a a Teddy Boy, but now had a wife and two kids and a respectable job with Express Dairies as a milkman.”

Empty milk bottles on a doorstep

Empty milk bottles on doorstep in British days of yore

In those days, every morning, milk was delivered to people’s doorsteps and, usually once a week, the money was collected. Alan was a milk boy, assisting Johnny on his milk round.

“Every couple of streets,” Alan Johnson said last night, “Johnny would stop the milk float, look in the mirror and comb his Tony-Curtis-with-a-DA hairstyle.”

Johnny was not someone you messed with.

“There was a place called Ruston Close,” Alan Johnson explained. “At No 10, Johnny would always send me in on my own to collect the money on all these different floors while he sat there (in the milk float).

“I used to say: Why don’t you come in there with me?

“And eventually I found out it was because it was 10 Rillington Place. It was so notorious, they had changed the name to Ruston Place.”

John Christie

John Christie – he certainly killed women

10 Rillington Place was where John Christie was alleged to have killed at least eight women including his wife, whose body was found under the floor boards in the front room. The bodies of three of his other victims were discovered hidden in an alcove in the kitchen.

Alan Johnson last night: “I would walk in on my own as a 10-year-old into all these dark floors and get the money from all these West Indian families who had been put in there and behind those walls were where Christie put his victims. Johnny – a former Teddy Boy – was too scared to go in. So he sent a 10-year-old kid in.”

Timothy Evans

Timothy Evans – he may have killed his wife

John Christie had had tenants at 10 Rillington Place.

Among them were Timothy Evans and his wife Beryl and their infant daughter Geraldine. Beryl and Geraldine were murdered.

Timothy Evans was prosecuted for murdering them. John Christie was a key prosecution witness. Evans was found guilty of murdering his daughter and sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed on 9th March 1950.

Three years later, John Christie was found to be a serial killer. He was hanged on 15th July 1953. Before he died, Christie admitted to killing Evans’ wife Beryl but not to killing Evans’ daughter Geraldine (for which Evans had been convicted).

An official inquiry conducted in 1965-1966 concluded that it was “more probable than not” that Evans DID kill his wife Beryl (for which he was not convicted but to whose murder Christie had admitted) but that he did NOT kill his daughter Geraldine (for which he was convicted and to which Christie had not admitted).

Albert Perrrepoint

Albert Pierrepoint certainly executed both men

Both Evans and Christie were executed by Britain’s official hangman Albert Pierrepoint.

After being pinioned for execution, Christie complained that his nose itched. Pierrepoint told him: “It won’t bother you for long”.

So it goes.

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People are strange – serial killers, comedians and criminal psychologists

Mary Ann Cotton - an efficient killer

I am interested in strange people’s psychology – stand-up comedians – people  like that. People who are different.

But, really, everyone is different. Drag the most ordinary, dull-looking person out of a bus queue, ask them the right questions about themselves and you will find they have had the most extraordinary life and are probably very strange in one way or another.

Yesterday, I went to a lecture by Professor Glenn Wilson at Gresham College in London about the psychological profiling of serial killers.

You know the sort of stuff – some bloke comes along and tells the police: “The man you are looking for is 6ft 3in tall, likes Royal Doulton pottery and anal sex, has few friends, a lisp and probably makes pasta in an Italian restaurant owned by a one-legged woman within a three mile radius of Hastings.”

Except that seems to be bollocks.

As far as I can make out, psychological profiling is smoke and mirrors.

Professor Wilson’s conclusion yesterday was that “while psychological profiling may reduce the size of the haystack in which the needle is sought” (the Yorkshire Ripper enquiry had to process 268,000 named suspects) it is much better at explaining serial killers after they are caught but much less impressive at finding and catching them.

Well, yes, in other words… it does not work.

Anyone can psychologically profile a serial killer after they are caught.

Serial killers are not the same as ‘spree killers’ who just rampage round Cumbria or attack a Jewish school in Toulouse or go onto a Norwegian island and simply kill everyone in sight. A serial killer is defined as someone who kills three or more people with intervals between – like Jack the Ripper or Harold Shipman.

I was fascinated to hear about Mary Ann Cotton, a Durham woman who poisoned at least 21 people in the mid-19th century – including her mother, three husbands, a lover, ten of her own children, five step-children and her best friend. Now there is an interesting woman though, even with high 19th century mortality rates, you have to question the general gullibility of the police and locals before she was suspected of murder.

The FBI put serial killers into two categories: Organised and Disorganised.

Organised serial killers leave few clues, follow their case in the media and are “socially adequate” with friends, lovers, wife and children.

Disorganised serial killers leave a chaotic crime scene, have little interest in the publicity and have few friends.

In other words, there is no ‘typical’ serial killer. They are not the cliché loner: the Yorkshire Ripper, like many others, was married.

As Professor Wilson understated yesterday, “Profiling has its limitations. Certain background details are said to be common in psychopaths (eg bed-wetting, fire-setting and animal cruelty) but these are widespread in the community, whereas serial killers are rare. Childhood abuse and neglect may lead to serious crimes but equally motivate others to rise above their difficulties and develop a brilliant career (Charles Dickens and Charlie Chaplin).”

In other words, everyone is different. As in general life, so in the serial killing community.

There is also the fact that the police and the press can prosecute and persecute innocent people based on the fact they sound like ’the sort of person’ who might have done it.

Colin Stagg was charged with the Wimbledon Common killing of Rachel Nickell after a ‘profile’ of the killer was given on BBC TV’s Crimewatch. The police charged him with obscenity after he admitted having sunbathed in the nude and, based solely on this, the tabloids then described him as a ‘sex offender’. He then spent a year in prison awaiting trial for the Wimbledon Common killing, but was released then persecuted for years in the press (encouraged by the police). It turned out he was not the killer.

In the case of Barry George, admittedly a bit of an odd man, he was wrongly convicted of killing TV presenter Jill Dando (I once worked with the person who found her body). It was said he kept news clippings about her at his home. In fact, he had a stack of old newspapers, a few of which mentioned her but none were clipped or highlighted in any way.

Now, the chief suspect in that killing appears to be an unknown Serbian hit man who is presumed to have killed her in revenge for the NATO bombing (a few days before) of the TV station in Belgrade which killed several journalists.

Who knows?

Real life is stranger – and much more varied – than fiction or psychological profiling would allow.

How about a vegetarian who hated anyone who was cruel to animals? That person could never be responsible for any deaths, could he? Yet that person was Adolph Hitler.

To quote William Goldman’s book Adventures in the Screen Trade, “Nobody knows anything”.

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The death of a UK boxer linked to the sadistic murders of prostitutes by serial killer ‘Jack the Stripper’

I missed the 2008 movie The Bank Job when it was released in cinemas, but saw it on TV last night. It is about the 1971 robbery of the safety deposit vault at Lloyds Bank in Baker Street, London, and is allegedly based on a true story that one of the safety deposit boxes contained sex pictures of Princess Margaret (who is oddly never named in the film). Whether it is true or not I have no idea.

But the combination of seeing The Bank Job last night and the sad death of boxer Sir Henry Cooper yesterday reminds me of the story about British boxer Freddie Mills which I have heard for the last fifteen years from unconnected people in both the boxing and crime worlds.

The story is that Freddie Mills, a former World Light Heavyweight boxing champion who appeared in two Carry On films and many TV entertainment shows – he was the Frank Bruno of his day – was also a serial killer nicknamed Jack The Stripper who murdered six or possibly eight prostitutes between 1959 and 1965.

A 1969 novel Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square was loosely based on the case and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1972 movie Frenzy was loosely adapted from the book.

On 24 July 1965 Freddie Mills was found shot through the right eye in his Citroen car, parked in a cul-de-sac behind his nightclub The Nite Spot in Charing Cross Road, London. He was said to have shot himself inside the car with a .22 fairground rifle borrowed from a friend who ran a shooting gallery. The Coroner’s Court brought in a verdict of suicide. His family never accepted the verdict.

In 1991, Tony Van Den Bergh published Who Killed Freddie Mills? which brought up the Jack the Stripper story.

In 2001, former London crime figure Jimmy Tippett Jnr was reportedly writing a book which claimed Freddie Mills was Jack the Stripper and killed himself because the police were likely to arrest him.

In his 2004 book Fighters, James Morton concluded that Freddie Mills had killed himself because he was depressed and was convinced the Kray Twins were about to kill him.

In 2006, David Seabrook published Jack of Jumps which deduced that Freddie Mills was not Jack the Stripper.

The story I heard in the mid-1990s and over the years from multiple separate sources was that Freddie Mills was Jack the Stripper and – because the worlds of crime and boxing are inextricably intermingled in the UK and there is a crossover between crime and showbiz in Soho – he was known by crime figures to be the killer. It was said that, at the point of sexual climax, he was known to lose control of his violent inner self.

The police did not have enough evidence to arrest him, so those crime figures killed Freddie Mills. The police knew or suspected this was the case but, because of the Jack the Stripper background, did not pursue any investigation; they figured justice had been done. As the Coroner’s Court had decided the death was suicide, there was no need to investigate.

In 1999, I had a chat with Brian J Ford, first British President of the European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations, specifically to ask him about the Freddie Mills ’suicide’ story. Shortly after Freddie Mills’ death in 1965, he had written an article for the Sunday Mirror, pointing out the complete lack of any psychological profile for a suicide.

In a 1965 interview with ITN, boxing promoter Jack Solomons said of Freddie Mills: “He would never accept defeat… I would assume that he had no enemies in the boxing game – what he did outside of that in his after boxing life, that I couldn’t say.”

One very unusual detail in this alleged ‘suicide’ was that Mills had his right eye open when the bullet hit it. Usually, people close their eyes as the trigger is pulled.

Professor David Wingate, resident medical officer at Middlesex Hospital the night Mills’s corpse was brought in, carried out an examination on the body and was convinced that someone had taken the gun off Mills and shot him with it. He was not called to give evidence at the Coroner’s inquest.

Brian J Ford told me he had also looked in detail at the alleged ‘suicide’ weapon and concluded that it was physically impossible for Freddie Mills to shoot himself seated in the back of that type of Citroen in the way that he was shot with a gun which was too long to manipulate through 180 degrees. There were also signs of a violent struggle before the alleged ‘suicide’ took place in the back seat. Brian did not go for the Jack The Stripper angle and just believed Mills, as a boxer, was involved with criminal types who shot him for unknown reasons.

But the story refuses to go away.

I heard it again last year.

It may be an urban myth.

It may be the truth.

That’s the ironic thing about the real world. You can never be absolutely certain what’s true and what’s not.

There is a BBC TV documentary about Freddie Mills here on YouTube in which Scotland Yard’s ‘Nipper’ Read, who investigated the case, says he believes Freddie Mills killed himself, but Mills’ family still dispute the ’suicide’ verdict; towards the end, there is also a reconstruction of how not to shoot yourself in the head with a fairground rifle in the back seat of a Citroen.


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