The Monster Lives!
part 4 of 4
I planned it all out very carefully.
-John Reginald Halliday Christie, 1953
The murders of 10 Rillington Place (eight known victims spanning 1943 to 1953) were committed, beyond any reasonable doubt, by John Reginald Halliday Christie. However, some questions remained after his execution in 1953.
First among them was how an innocent man, the mentally retarded Timothy John Evans, could have been so cavalierly convicted and executed for the murder of his daughter, Geraldine Evans, and charged with killing his wife, Beryl Evans.
And a more sinister issue remains debatable as well: since Christie was a serial killer, how likely is it that he had not killed between the years 1945-1949 and from 1950-1952, periods for which, canonically, he has no murders attributed to him?
Tim Evans redux
Christie’s confession (during his questioning and trial) to killing Beryl Evans in November 1949 created a sensation. Her husband, Timothy Evans, as people began to believe, had been Credit: robshistory.co.ukconvicted of a murder he had not committed (though Christie never confessed to killing baby Geraldine Evans—probably intentionally because baby killers did not fare well in court—the only murder for which Tim was convicted).
Tim’s mother (who had shouted “Murderer! Murderer!” at Christie at the end of Tim’s 1950 trial as Christie left the Old Bailey having witnessed on the stand for the prosecution); his sister, Eileen Evans Ashby; and his half-sister, Mary Probert Westlake, petitioned authorities to exonerate Tim. Other well-placed people also began a campaign to have his conviction overturned.
To begin with, it seems unlikely that two serial killers, both using the same gassing and strangulation methods (and a killer’s modus operandi is a “calling card”, generally containing enough elements to make it unique to that killer), would live not only within proximity of each other but on different floors of the same building! The odds of two such killers co-existing, working independently and unaware of the other’s activities, are incalculable—it has never been recorded in the history of crime. This statistical anomaly alone is sufficient to cast doubt on Tim’s guilt.
The inept searches in the wake of Beryl’s murder, particularly the overlooking of the femur Christie had used to prop up a fence and a human skull lying in plain view (dug up by Christie’s dog) were sticking points that made many realize if at least one of these relics had been found in 1949 four other women might not have been murdered; Christie’s killings would have been found out then and not four years later. [The skull had been found by children playing in the rubble where Christie later tossed it. It had even been turned in to police during Tim’s investigation, but it was ignored!] Similarly, had anyone looked in the washhouse during the first search in late November 1949, Beryl and the baby would have been discovered, narrowing the time interval since their murders which would lead to eliminating Tim as a suspect.
With respect to the washhouse and the timing of the bodies having been placed there, hired workmen (on site starting on or about November 1, 1949) finished their job on November 14, the same day Tim Evans was on a westbound train headed to his hometown in Wales.
That morning at about 10 AM, Christie had come out to the washhouse and asked one of the workmen in there if he could have some old wood planks they had pulled up earlier (either from the washhouse floor or possibly from inside the main house and stored in the washhouse). The man told Christie he could have the used lumber. Such an exchange lends complete credence to the idea that Christie had formed a plan to conceal Beryl’s and the baby’s dead bodies with detritus such as old flooring (which proved to be the case later when their bodies were discovered). That detail in the worker’s first statement to police also eliminates Tim Evans as a person of interest—not only was he on a train, but his neighbor took possession of the wood under which Tim’s wife and daughter was concealed.
As for the presence of bodies in the washhouse (which the prosecution insisted had to be before November 14 otherwise, their theory of Tim’s being the murderer was bunk) all the workers initially interviewed insisted there was nothing untoward in the washhouse before they finished their remodeling at 10 Rillington Place. There were no bodies nor was there anything else they had not put there themselves. And they would know if two reeking corpses had been in there before then: not only had they been remodeling the washhouse itself but they stored their tools in there and were frequently back-and-forth between it and the main house.
This nagging fact did not work with the police’s theory of Tim’s killing Beryl and the baby and almost immediately stashing them in the washhouse. The prosecution’s theory demanded that Tim place the bodies in the washhouse before November 14. Police obliged by re-interviewing the workers. Some were “convinced” through police wrangling and coercion that no, they were mistaken—they hadn’t quit the place on November 14, it was a couple of days earlier. No one bothered to note that the workers’ time records, used to generate their payroll, clearly showed them on the job until November 14, not ending sooner than that.
Furthermore, these workers were not only not made available to the defense, Tim’s defense counsel didn’t even know of their existence to use them as rebuttal witnesses on Tim’s behalf. Rules of discovery either weren’t in place in England in 1950 or they were abused beyond reason (the prosecution, for example, used statements from the workers to further its case against Tim while denying the defense a chance to refute those statements). And Tim Evans, feeb that he was, probably didn’t even think to suggest the carpenters on-site as possibly being able to help his case. His lawyers never investigated this angle; the opportunity had been maliciously and intentionally withheld.
Enough public interest was aroused after Christie’s trial that Tim Evans’ case was brought up with a goal of resolving judicial and evidentiary issues. As Christie had the greater body count, and was evidently a true multiple murderer, many irregularities regarding Tim’s alleged crime were re-examined, mostly relating to police making their preconceived notions of Tim’s being a murderer fit the “facts”, not letting the evidence lead where it might.
His early confessions in Wales should have been completely discounted. He obviously had no clue where his wife’s body was (telling police she was in a drain when she never had been), and he continually modified his statements to fit developments in the case as police fed him information. Furthermore, the language of his later statements suggests they had been prepared by someone other than simple Tim, most likely the police who then handed it over for his review and imprimatur.
Christie had a criminal record, one that included violence. Tim Evans had no such history on file. Before police took Christie at his word concerning his version of Tim’s allegedly killing Beryl they should have back-grounded him (as is generally done today in such serious cases). [For that matter, Christie’s criminal background should have been checked before he was hired on as a Special Constable. He would have never been given a badge; that, at least, might have spared Ruth Fuerst’s life if no other’s since he likely abused his legal position to intimidate her into coming to his home.]
A hastily prepared and cursory review that lasted a bit over a week was led by a court official (who had interviewed Christie before his execution). Twenty witnesses relating to the Tim Evans investigation were interviewed; documents from both Tim’s and Christie’s trials were re-examined as well. The results were published the same day Christie was executed (July 15, 1953). Not surprising at the time the conclusion reached was that Tim had indeed killed his daughter and his wife. Christie’s confession to killing Beryl had been discounted as the machinations of an accused killer trying solely to bolster an insanity defense.
This report was widely criticized as only being an instrument of covering for police incompetence and to protect the Crown’s judicial reputation. It had not been deeply investigated and was conducted from the prejudicial position that Tim Evans was guilty rather than let the facts flow organically. Nor had sufficient time (only 11 days) and resources been allocated to probe the matter thoroughly. It was a rush job, put up only to quell growing negative public sentiment toward the courts.
Parliament took up the issue that a miscarriage of justice had occurred and debated the relative merits of a better review of Tim’s case. A second inquiry was authorized; it was conducted over Credit: nydailynews.coma more reasonably expansive period (the winter of 1965-1966). However, it failed in many ways to stifle the sense that an innocent man had been executed in 1950. The person chairing this inquiry concluded that Tim Evans had not killed his daughter, Christie had. But, stubbornly and against common sense and evidence at hand, the report stuck to the conviction that Tim Evans had killed his wife!
Regardless, Britain’s Home Secretary used the conclusions of this report to issue a formal mea culpa on behalf of the Crown. It was incomplete, though: while Tim Evans was granted a posthumous pardon for the murder of his daughter (overturning his conviction) there was no exoneration (meaning authorities had not claimed he was guiltless of any crimes—Beryl’s murder still hung over his head). Tim Evans’ royal pardon was announced on October 18, 1966. This meant his remains could be exhumed from their prison burial locale; his body was given over to family members who had him interred in a private cemetery.
The death penalty had been a hot-button issue in Britain for some time before the debate over Tim Evans in the 1960s. Along with certain other high profile capital murder cases, such as that of 28-year-old Ruth Ellis (hanged in 1955, she was the last woman executed in Britain), Evans’ controversial case helped lead to the 1965 suspension of capital punishment in Britain. It was later abolished.
Tim’s sister, Eileen Ashby, and half-sister, Mary Westlake, were awarded compensatory payments in January 2003 for the miscarriage of justice in Tim’s case, leading to his wrongful execution. The assessor for this pay-out went on record as saying his conviction and execution “for the murder of his child was wrongful and a miscarriage of justice”. He also added “ . . . there is no evidence to implicate Credit: robshistory.co.ukTimothy Evans in the murder of his wife. She was most probably murdered by Christie”.
Mary Westlake started an appeal in November 2004 to have Tim’s conviction formally and finally quashed. She made the valid argument his pardon had not expunged his murder conviction of Geraldine. Legal language from the 1965-66 inquiry had been worded in such a way that he had never been declared innocent. Her request was denied three days later on November 19, 2004—appellate judges declared that the cost and allocation of human resources to quash his conviction were unjustifiable. They also opined that an appeal would not bring any “tangible benefit” to the Evans/Probert name or to the public. They did, however, call Tim’s wrongful execution as “an historic and unique injustice”, and they accepted that Tim had not murdered either his wife or his daughter.
The End of 10 Rillington Place
In 1954, in a failed attempt to shed its notoriety and to discourage curiosity seekers, Rillington Place was renamed Ruston Close (or Ruston Mews, “mews” being a British term for “alley” from a 17th Century word referring to rows of horse stables). The number “10” remained as the building’s designation, though. It continued to be occupied by multiple families and itinerant tenants throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1970, a film company took up the project of dramatizing Christie’s crimes. The crew wanted authenticity and contacted the current residents of 10 Ruston Close. The three families in tenancy all refused to move out for filming; the interior and establishing shots were instead done at nearby 7 Ruston Close. The movie, 10 Rillington Place, was released in 1971 and starred Richard Attenborough as Christie.
That same year, the former bathhouse and murder house, once known as 10 Rillington Place, was demolished. Today the area is an undistinguished light-commercial and residential zone sandwiched between parallel streets, Bartle Road and Lancaster Road, with St. Marks Road as a cross-street to the immediate northeast.Credit: Infoterra Ltd., 2010
Serial killers do not stop killing unless they are prevented from doing so by circumstance, such as doing time in jail or prison (for unrelated offenses), finally getting caught, or dying (the bestCredit: Vic Dillinger, 2013 suspect in the criminally classic and unsolved Zodiac slayings of the mid-to-late 1960s, Arthur Leigh Allen, died from a heart attack in 1991 just about the time a case might have been finally and effectively made against him).
It seems inconceivable, therefore, that John Reginald Halliday Christie, once he’d gotten a taste for the thrill of the kill in 1943 (with the murder of Ruth Fuerst) followed up by another sexually-motivated murder in 1944 (Muriel Eady), did not kill again until 1949. The possibility exists—and it is a strong one that should be considered—that Christie was responsible for more murders than the eight that are canonically assigned to him.
Christie had nothing preventing his pursuit of murder from late 1944 to late 1949 if he felt the compulsion. Up until Tim Evans’ trial, Ethel Christie took frequent trips away from home, staying for days in Sheffield. Christie’s work was menial, and he was frequently absent from his jobs—his whining about various physical complaints may have been nothing more than excuses to cover those absences while he hunted for more victims. Doctor’s visits provided nothing more than written excuses for his employer (when Christie was absent from work) and confirmations of his “illness” (tending to serve as alibi evidence—he could claim he was sick this day or that day and “prove” it with paperwork from a physician’s office).
During questioning upon his arrest, Christie only gave up information or confessed to those murders that police had literally gift-wrapped and placed at his feet. He deflected his culpability, though, by claiming all kinds of outrageous happenstances that led to the deaths of the four women for which he had been detained (Ethel Christie, Rita Nelson, Kathleen Maloney, and Hectorina MacLennan). Had police later failed to uncover the skeletons of his first two victims (Ruth Fuerst and Muriel Eady, buried in his “garden”) he likely would not have confessed to murdering them.
Cagey and evasive during questioning he also led police to believe he may have been involved in more murders. They assumed afterward that he was referring to Ruth and Muriel once their remains were uncovered. But, was he?
From October 1944 (after the rape and murder of Muriel Eady) until November 1949 (with the failed rape and murder of Beryl Evans) Christie had no constraints on his movements. He was not in jail, he was away from work occasionally with feigned physical complaints or he was unemployed, his wife was gone a lot, he personally made many forays outside the home for hours at a stretch, and he was known to visit prostitutes.
He had lived with a prostitute in 1929. He had shacked-up occasionally with a married woman during the early years of World War II. One of his statements about his next-to-last victim, Kathleen Maloney, involved his having been to a room (not in Rillington Place) with her and another prostitute about three weeks before Christmas 1952. It does not take much to ask if Christie may not have killed other women while in their homes or in cheap rooms rented for a few hours specifically for illicit sex.
After late 1949, Christie was on a tighter leash thanks to Ethel. It is reasonable to believe that while perhaps not totally enlightened as to her husband’s activities she may have suspected he was up to more than merely being a good citizen and a middle-aged gardener. Ethel’s statements to police that she was often in the washhouse where Beryl’s and the baby’s bodies had been found but never noticing anything amiss is suspect. [She later contradicted herself, and at Tim’s trial she claimed in court she never went in there. She was never challenged on this conflicting statement by either police of Tim’s defense counsel.]
Either she had gone in there and was completely oblivious to the smell of rotting corpses (put away in mid November, but dead since November 8 and November 10 respectively) or she had been in, seen (or suspected) what was stashed there, locked the door, and left it. Though perhaps thinking her husband was guilty of some wrongdoing. Ethel (as described by friends; neighbors said she thought she was their better) was a non-confrontational submissive—she would not have drawn Christie’s attentions to her “find” (if she thought he might be involved), nor would she have mentioned any suspicions of him to his face.
This may, however, inform Ethel’s later nagging and throwing Christie’s impotence in his face. She had something on him (though he probably didn’t know it); she was asserting herself with the knowledge that she could ruin him any time.
Riding herd on Christie seemed to become her raison d’être. Her family still kept in touch with her from Sheffield by mail. She was on good terms with them—why had she stopped her routine visits after Tim’s trial? Stifling Christie seems to make the most sense, and it may have motivated his murdering her. Perhaps he had said something that had upset her; rashly, she may have made an “I-know-what-you-did” revelation and, in a panic, he killed her.
Otherwise, her death makes no sense. Ethel was an obvious interference in his murderous desires. If he were going to kill her to clear the way so he could murder at will it seems he would have done away with her earlier, say, perhaps around 1943, and in a more controlled and planned manner. The suddenness of her death coupled with his clear lack of planning for disposing of her body points to a sudden change in the dynamic of their relationship. Simply put, she likely became a threat to Christie.
In the Brixton prison, while waiting for trial, Christie’s arrogant bigheadedness about his crimes, killing six women, also may have some foreboding in them. It is interesting to note that he didn’t bother to include Ethel or baby Geraldine in his body count, but he did claim Beryl Evans among the sacrosanct.
Christie’s lack of putting Ethel’s murder in the pantheon of his “trophy” killings (combined with the fact that he did not rape her dying or dead body) tends to support the idea that he killed her rashly, out of fear of discovery or over some other annoyance. She was not good enough to include with the others, murders Christie had planned with relish. Nor did he include the murder of baby Geraldine in his litany: baby killers do not command anything other than loathing in prison, and the baby was also not one of Christie’s killings executed for sexual gratification. Geraldine was killed solely as an expedient to cover up his planned crime, the rape (bothched) and murder of Beryl Evans.
Christie’s favorable comparison to himself and British serial killer, John George Haigh, was also telling in many ways. Haigh had murdered six women (materially profiting from their deaths, unlike Christie) and had disposed of them by submerging their bodies in barrels of sulfuric acid. This rendered the corpses to sludge with very few identifiable remains in the mess decanted from the vessels when emptied (one victim was identified solely by some bridge-plate and gall stones the acid failed to dissolve). Compared to Haigh, Christie was a bungling amateur, and it was purely dumb luck that had kept him from being found out sooner.
During these prison monologues, Christie claimed he planned on killing 12 women. The number itself is interesting. It represents double the number of women he aggressively had raped and murdered. It also bettered the number of murders Haigh committed: typical of Christie, who was an insignificant, impotent nobody with low self-esteem, this kind of twisted one-upmanship was expected.
Whatever it meant at the time, the number “12” had not been drawn out of a hat. Whether Christie ever could have met that goal is unknown. If he truly had planned such a fixed-target death toll, and he had managed to reach it, there is no way he would have stopped there. Had he succeeded in murdering twelve women that would mean he had refined his killing technique and disposal methods so effectively that not only had he not been caught by police but getting caught would not have occurred to him. He would then have no reason to stop.
Another problem with the number “12” that requires some consideration—Christie was a notorious braggart and outright liar. But his first inclination and first responsibility was to himself and his preservation. Thus, it is conceivable that when he said he planned on killing twelve women, he might really have been implying that he had already killed that many. Keeping in mind that there are no murders assigned to him from 1944-1949 or from 1950-1952 (and realizing that such “dry spells” for serial killers, at least voluntarily, are unheard of) it is possible Christie had six more unsolved murders under his belt.
This teasing conclusion can be supported by the fact that Christie only confessed or discussed his murders with police as the bodies were processed. He never jumped the gun until confronted with new evidence. Thus, he only talked about the four bodies found inside his flat at 10 Rillington Place until the skeletal remains were later dug up, assembled, and identified. Only then did he talk about them. Had those bodies remained buried in his back yard, undiscovered, he would have taken that knowledge to the grave.
The One that Got Away
From this, it isn’t a far reach to think that Christie killed other women, perhaps in different police jurisdictions, and was never connected to them. He proved his aggressiveness on more than one occasion, with bravado and impulsive behaviors in pursuit of a kill.
A good example of his audacity was when he quietly slipped into the Evans’ apartment, cup of tea in hand, and sidled up to Eileen Evans (Tim’s sister) who was alone there and hadn’t heard him come in. This takes some raw nerve, to walk uninvited into someone’s home, especially as the new couple hadn’t lived there long and weren’t that close to Christie yet. [Christie, already having a lech for the young Beryl Evans, was probably hoping to find her home alone. Luckily for Eileen she refused Christie’s offer of the tea, tea he had more than likely prepared for Beryl. Christie lingered in the flat, perhaps considering killing Eileen, who, in his mind, was probably a gift-wrapped victim of chance. He left, though, after being told by Eileen that Tim was due home any minute—a fib, but one that probably saved her life. A container of potassium cyanide was found in Christie’s flat when his place was searched after the bodies in his pantry were discovered in 1953. It takes only ¼-gram of the substance to kill—though not known, Christie may have put it in the tea, meant for Beryl but which he’d opportunistically offered Eileen.]
Another case of Christie’s reckless pursuit occurred when he had apparently targeted a woman suffering from migraines in early 1953, Mrs. Margaret Forrest. [The use of “Mrs.” before her name was not necessarily an indicator she was married. She may have been divorced. Or, she may have introduced herself in that way to discourage any ideas he might have about pursuing her sexually.]
Christie bragged to her about his medical expertise (of which he had none, just some front-line first aid he had learned in the British Army in World War I and for civilian care when he was hired as a War Reserve Police officer in 1939). Finally, she believed his lies enough that he talked her into coming to his place to take a home cure, one of his devising, for her migraines.
It is certain he meant his “special mixture” used along with his killing jar. She would inhale from the jar, at first only smelling Friar’s Balsam (a harmless aromatic used for common respiratory problems). Christie would introduce a second rubber tube that dispensed his flat’s domestic coal gas (with its 15% carbon monoxide content) into the jar’s lid; she would have been unconscious in minutes.
Margaret didn’t keep her appointment, though. Christie was beside himself: his anticipation of having her in his home, unconscious for him to do with as he pleased, was so great he stormed over to where she was living. [This rashness goes toward the reckless behavior of the serial killer when the compulsion cannot be denied any longer.] He confronted her angrily. He demanded that she come to his house straightway. He made enough of a scene that Margaret Forrest could have called police to have him removed. His histrionics may have set alarm bells off in her head—though she managed to calm him down by saying she would come along later, she never did. And when she said after his arrest that she had lost Christie’s address (which is why she was a no-show a second time) it is more than likely she had been shaken by his demeanor enough to follow her intuition and stay away.
Losing Margaret Forrest as a victim, he sought out and killed Hectorina MacLennan shortly afterward instead.
During and immediately after the years of World War II times were very hard on working-class people. Millions of British men were cycled into and out of the armed forces, and the women at home were left to their own devices. Some took up with men not in the fighting (such as the woman who allowed Christie to share her bed off-and-on for a couple of years while her husband was fighting in Europe). Countless others turned to prostitution. Christie chose his victims from among these sad women, many of whom were dislocated and disenfranchised. For the most part (with the notable exceptions of Beryl Evans and Ethel Christie) no one would care enough about them to note their disappearance.
Christie’s start in murder was probably accidental. He had a predilection for rough sex stemming from a fundamental fear and hatred of women (from his childhood confusions in finding his sisters sexually attractive yet knowing they despised him and from his adolescent sexual failures that left him mostly impotent as an adult).
He found he needed totally submissive women to “get it up”, ones who could not laugh at or comment negatively upon his poor sexual performance. Perhaps one of his main reasons for marrying Ethel is that she never complained about his lack of sexual vigor (at least not until the last several months of her life). She was a timid and pliant woman who probably did as Christie asked her in the boudoir (lying completely still, not speaking, etc.).
The best submission, of course, would be complete unconsciousness in his partner. It is unlikely Christie manually started strangling his first known victim, Ruth Fuerst, on a whim during sex. He had probably done such a thing before. Erotic asphyxiation is not a behavior that would suddenly surface in mid-life. Chances are he had done this many times before, strangling prostitutes till they passed out while he had sex (for which he paid) with them. Some may have even agreed in advance to let him choke them. The first time it got out of hand, with Ruth, took Christie to a whole new level of sexual gratification, one he would do anything to repeat. [And Christie confessed to strangling his last victim, Hectorina MacLennan, with his hands just enough to cause her to go limp as she tried to escape his kitchen. This proves some proficiency with the practice; he knew the “just right” pressure to apply without killing. He gassed her into deeper unconsciousness before raping her, strangling her to death with a piece of electrical cord during the rape.]
Trophies in the Tobacco Tin
The pubic hairs found in Christie’s home on March 24, 1953 tend to point toward other killings. Many (not all, but many) serial killers like to keep trophies of their “work” either on their person or very near, readily accessible for them to gloat over and relive the thrill of the crime. Christie’s tin of pubic hair, taken from four different women, fits this souvenir-gathering habit.
One clump was positively identified as that of Ethel Christie’s (though why he felt a need to keep such a memento from her—whom he did not kill for sexual gratification—remains unknown). The other three tufts of pubic hair, though, were never positively identified. Although Christie claimed one came from Beryl Evans (and original supposition was that the other two came from Ruth and Muriel) none were positively identified as belonging to those women.
The unidentified pubic hairs Christie kept in his tobacco tin tend to point to anywhere from one unknown victim (if accepted that Ethel, Ruth Fuerst, and Muriel Eady were the “donors” of three clumps) to three other unknown victims (if only Ethel’s proven sample is considered, leaving three others coming from unidentified women).
Fetishists may wish to clip a memento of a conquest and keep it. It can be safely assumed some women would voluntarily grant such a request (though probably considered odd or even “kinky” in post-Victorian Era England). Nonetheless, it is unlikely that the pubic hair collection in Christie’s possession was created with any woman’s voluntary cooperation. The small number of samples and the deceiving, yet mundane, place they were kept—in a tobacco tin, easily retrieved by Christie—tends to suggest the pubic hairs in the tin meant more than mere mementos of consensual sexual conquests. These were special.
Eliminating Ethel Christie’s pubic hair leaves three women (as donors) unaccounted for. Were these from prostitutes he had killed elsewhere, leaving them to be discovered? Or, were they from women he had killed and then disposed of near their cheap rooms?
A look at the dates of Christie’s known victims and each murder’s motivation creates some cause for concern about the possibility that these were not his only killings:
- Ruth Fuerst, 21 years old, sexually motivated, manually strangled on August, 24, 1943
- Muriel Eady, 32 years old, sexually motivated, gassed and strangled with stocking, October (specific day unknown) 1944
- Beryl Evans, 20 years old, sexually motivated, partially gassed and strangled with electrical cord or rubber tubing, November 8, 1949
- Geraldine Evans, 13 months old, crime of expedience, strangled with necktie, November 10, 1949
- Ethel Christie, 54 years old, crime of expedience, strangled with stocking, December 14, 1952
- Rita Nelson, 25 years old, sexually motivated, gassed and strangled with electrical cord or rope, January 19, 1953
- Kathleen Maloney, 26 years old, sexually motivated, gassed and strangled with rope, February (specific day unknown) 1953
- Hectorina MacLennan, 26 years old, sexually motivated, gassed and strangled with electrical cord, March 6, 1953
Reviewing this list, it seems unreasonable to think Christie invented a killing method (his killing jar) only to use it once (on Muriel Eady), then lay low for five years before trying to use it again (on Beryl Evans), and then not killing after that for over two more years. Searching for further victims would have to begin by narrowing a time frame in which to search.
Christie’s rapid-fire rape-murders of three women, one per month each month after killing Ethel, tends to support the idea that his compulsion had not been fulfilled in some time, and this “feeding frenzy” was illustrative of that. From this, it seems, then, that he had probably not killed since Beryl Evans—with Ethel watching him like a hawk he was forced into a state of semi-retirement. So, eliminating the years 1950-1952 to search for other victims seems reasonable.
The best time to search is Britain’s dodgier years, 1944-1949. With so many women losing their husbands and boyfriends in the war and at loose ends, many living on the fringe, Christie might have had easy pickings at any time during those chaotic and economically depressed years. He visited women in their rooms and flats. He was a habitué of the city’s street cafés, pubs, and cheap lunch rooms. Down-and-out women frequented these places as well, and he could have easily met any number of them. With the promise of a shilling or two and a night off the streets, he could have killed at will.
It just does not sit well that Christie would have lain dormant for years, particularly since he had devised his killing jar (that had proven very effective on Muriel Eady). He would have wanted to use it again. And again. And again.
Though mostly an academic exercise (there could be no justice brought on behalf of the hitherto unknown dead), it would still be an interesting exercise nonetheless for, say, a retiredCredit: capitalpunishmentuk.org British investigator with nothing but time on his or her hands to revisit cold cases from late 1944 to mid 1949. He or she could dig into unresolved missing persons’ reports; “Jane Doe” strangulations; dead, unidentified, and unclaimed women dumped in culverts or bomb-shelled buildings; or even victims found dead in their cheap rooms under suspicious circumstances.
An exercise only, but it might be surprisingly revealing—perhaps the owners of Christie’s unidentified pubic hairs could be found. More importantly, six victims rounding out his mythical 12 “planned” murders might be revealed (if that number can be interpreted as a past achievement and not wishful thinking on his part). And though no one can be prosecuted for any subsequent discoveries, sometimes merely knowing is justice enough.
Part 1 of 4: John Reginald Halliday Christie & the Serial Murders of 10 Rillington Place
Part 2 of 4: Timothy John Evans & the Serial Murders of 10 Rillington Place
Part 3 of 4: Final Serial Murders of 10 Rillington Place
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