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John Reginald CHRISTIE

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Rillington Place Strangler"
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Necrophilia
Number of victims: 8
Date of murders: 1943 - 1953
Date of arrest: March 31, 1953
Date of birth: April 8, 1899
Victims profile: Ruth Fuerst, 21 / Muriel Amelia Eady, 32 / Beryl Evans, 20, and his daughter Geraldine, 15 months / His wife Ethel Christie, 54 / Kathleen Maloney, 26 / Rita Nelson, 24 / Hectorina MacLennon, 26
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging at Pentonville Prison on July 15, 1953
 
 

 
 

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John Reginald Halliday Christie (April 8, 1899–July 15, 1953) was an English serial killer active in the 1940s and 1950s. He was arrested, tried and hanged for murder in 1953.

Prior to his arrest, he was involved in another previous murder trial: As a principal witness for the Crown. His fellow tenant Timothy Evans was accused of the murders of his own wife and child, and subsequently convicted of, and executed for, the murder of the baby; many critics have speculated that Christie committed the murders and framed Evans for them.

Others have suggested that there could have been two separate murderers living in the same shared house at the same time. Mr Justice Brabin stated in 1966 that it was "more probable than not" that Evans killed his wife and that he did not kill his daughter Geraldine. While neither Christie's nor Evans' innocence or guilt concerning these particular crimes have ever been conclusively proven, the case sparked massive public outrage, and contributed to the suspension of the death penalty in Britain in 1965.

Early life

Christie was raised in Halifax, then in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He was abused by his father and dominated by his mother and sisters. At the age of eight Christie was witness to the open coffin of his grandfather.

Christie won a scholarship to Halifax Secondary School when he was 11. He excelled particularly at mathematics and algebra, and was skilled at detailed work. It was later found he had an IQ of 128. He sang in the choir and became a scout, but he was unpopular with his fellow pupils. Upon leaving school in 1913, Christie became an assistant movie projectionist.

By the time he reached puberty, he already associated sex with death, dominance and violent aggression, rendering him impotent unless in complete control. His first attempts at sex were failures, branding him as "Reggie-No-Dick" and "Can't-Do-It-Christie" throughout adolescence. He was also a hypochondriac and hysteric, and often exaggerated or feigned illness as a ploy to get attention.

Christie enlisted as a signalman in World War I, during which he was hospitalised after a mustard gas attack, claiming to have been blinded. No record of his supposed blindness exists however; in 10 Rillington Place, author Ludovic Kennedy wrote that Christie exaggerated his blindness, as well as the three-year period afterward in which he was mute.

Christie married 22-year-old Ethel Waddington from Sheffield, on May 10, 1920. It was a dysfunctional union, as Christie was impotent with her and frequented prostitutes. Friends and neighbours gossiped that she stayed with him out of fear. They separated after four years, when Christie moved to London and Ethel lived with relatives.

Early criminal career

Over the next decade, Christie was convicted for many petty criminal offences. These included: three months' imprisonment for stealing postal orders while working as a postman on April 12, 1921; nine months in Uxbridge jail in September 1924 for theft; six months' hard labour for assaulting a prostitute (with whom he was living in Battersea) in May 1929; and three months' imprisonment in 1933 for stealing a car from a priest who had befriended him.

Christie and his wife reconciled after his release in November 1933. He did not reform, however; he continued to seek out prostitutes to relieve his increasingly violent sexual urges, which included necrophilia.

In December 1938, Christie and his wife moved into the ground floor apartment of 10 Rillington Place in the Ladbroke Grove neighbourhood of Notting Hill. On the outbreak of World War II, he applied to join the police force and was accepted, and was assigned to Harrow Road police station. Christie began an affair with a woman working at the police station whose husband was a serving soldier. The relationship lasted until December 1943, when he resigned. The husband caught them in bed and beat Christie up.

Murders

First murders

The first person Christie admitted to killing was Ruth Fuerst, whom he impulsively strangled during sex in August 1943. In October 1944, he murdered a work colleague, Muriel Amelia Eady, by promising to cure her bronchitis with a "special mixture" he had concocted, using domestic gas which contained carbon monoxide that would render a person unconscious. Once Eady was knocked out, Christie choked her to death, and raped her post-mortem. Christie buried both Fuerst and Eady in the building's communal garden.

The murders of Beryl and Geraldine Evans

Timothy Evans and his pregnant wife, Beryl, moved into the top-floor flat of 10 Rillington Place in April 1948. On October 10, Beryl gave birth to a daughter, whom they named Geraldine. In November 1949, Beryl Evans found out she was pregnant again, and feared they could not afford another child. Evans later told police that Christie promised the couple he could abort the baby.

Kennedy writes that, on November 8, Christie used his "special gas" to incapacitate Beryl, whom he strangled and raped post-mortem. When Evans returned from work that night, Christie told him that Beryl had died during the procedure, and that they had to hide the body (abortion was illegal in England at the time). Christie then convinced Evans to stay with a relative in Wales and leave Geraldine in his care. Evans later said he returned to the apartment several times to ask about Geraldine, but Christie had refused to let him see her.

On November 30, 1949, Evans went to the police in Merthyr Tydfil and said he had accidentally killed Beryl by giving her something contained in a bottle that a man had given him to help abort her unborn baby, and then disposing of her body in a sewer drain. He told the police that, after arranging for Geraldine to be looked after, he had gone to Wales.

When police examined the drain outside the front of the building, however, they found nothing and, furthermore, discovered that the manhole cover required the combined strength of all three officers in order to remove it. When re-questioned, Evans said that Christie had offered to provide an abortion for Beryl. Evans had returned home from work on November 8 to find Beryl dead. He said Christie then disposed of the body and made arrangements for some people to look after Geraldine while Evans lay low.

During a search of 10 Rillington Place on December 2, 1949, the police found the bodies of Beryl and Geraldine Evans hidden in the wash house in the back garden. Both had been strangled. When Evans was shown the clothing taken from the bodies of his wife and child, he was also asked whether he was responsible for their deaths. This was, according to Evans' statement, the first occasion in which he was informed that his baby daughter had been killed. Evans, (according to Kennedy) said 'yes, yes'. He then confessed to having strangled Beryl during an argument over debts and strangling Geraldine two days later, after which he left for Wales.

This confession, along with other, contradictory statements Evans made during the police interrogation, is often cited as proof of his guilt, although Kennedy says his interrogation was worded by investigating officers and carried out over the course of late evening and early morning hours to the physical and emotional detriment of the accused.

Evans later recanted this testimony, and the case went to trial, which began on January 11, 1950. Christie was a key witness for the prosecution, and was instrumental in Evans being found guilty two days later. The jury took only 40 minutes to come to this decision. After a failed appeal on February 20, Evans was hanged on March 9, 1950.

Murders after the conviction of Timothy Evans

Christie was fired from his job from the Post Office Savings Bank, which he had held for the previous four years, due to the disclosure of his previous criminal offences at Evans' trial. He sank into deep depression and lost 28 pounds. He remained unemployed until August 1950, when he found a clerical position with British Road Transport services.

He stayed there until December 6, 1952, when he suddenly resigned. Christie claimed to his boss and to his neighbours that he had found a job with better prospects in Sheffield and that he would be leaving London to move there with his wife early in the new year. When his wife disappeared, he claimed she had already moved and that he would be following on soon.

In fact, Christie murdered his wife in bed on the morning of December 14, 1952. She was last seen alive two days earlier. The day after he murdered his wife, he altered the date of a letter she had written on the 10th to the 15th, explaining that Ethel had no envelopes so he sent the letter from work. On December 16, he took his wife's wedding ring to a jewellery shop and sold it. A week after that, he sold her watch and wedding band. He kept writing letters to her sister in Sheffield up to early January, claiming that rheumatism had prevented her from writing.

On January 8, 1953, Christie sold most of his furniture. He kept three chairs, a kitchen table and a mattress to sleep on. On February 2, he forged his wife's signature on her bank account and emptied it. After early February, Christie no longer bothered to answer the letters from relatives inquiring after his wife.

Between January 19 and March 6, 1953, Christie murdered three more women he invited back to 10 Rillington Place: Kathleen Maloney from Southampton, Rita Nelson, and Hectorina MacLennan. Christie claimed that MacLennan had wandered off and kept up the pretence for two weeks, asking her boyfriend, Alex Baker, how she was. Baker presumed she had gone back to her native Scotland.

Arrest

Christie moved out of 10 Rillington Place on March 20, 1953. He defrauded a couple who took up residence by taking £7 from them, although he was not authorised by the landlord of the property to do so. They were forced to move out within 24 hours. The day he left Rillington Place, Christie booked a room at the King's Cross Rowton Houses under his real name and address. He asked for seven nights, but only stayed for four, leaving on March 24, 1953.

A few days later, a new tenant discovered the bodies hidden in a wallpapered-over coal cellar in the kitchen. Pathological tests later revealed carbon monoxide in their bodies. He called the police and a nationwide manhunt ensued on March 25. Three days later Christie telephoned the News of the World and arranged to meet a reporter, offering an exclusive interview; he said he would allow himself to be handed over to the police in exchange. The meeting never took place because Christie was frightened by the arrival of two policemen as he waited to meet the reporter.

After he left Rowton House, Christie wandered all over London, sleeping on park benches at night. The search for him ended on the morning of March 31 when he was arrested near the embankment at Putney Bridge after being challenged about his identity by a policeman. When asked what his name and address were, he said "John Waddington, 35 Westbourne Grove". He was then asked to remove his hat. The policeman recognized him and asked: "You are Christie, aren't you?" Christie confirmed that he was. When arrested, he had with him his identity card, a ration book, his union card, an ambulance badge, and an old newspaper clipping about the remand of Timothy Evans.

Trial and execution

The next day he was charged with his wife's murder. On April 15, he was charged with murdering the three prostitutes.

While in prison, Christie confessed to murdering all the women found in the cellar, as well as Beryl Evans. He never admitted to killing Geraldine Evans. He was interviewed after the trial by John Scott Henderson QC, the Recorder of Portsmouth, who had been placed in charge of an inquiry into the case by David Maxwell Fyfe, the serving Home Secretary.

Christie's trial began on June 22, 1953, in the same court where Evans had been tried. He was on trial solely for the murder of his wife. Christie pleaded insanity and claimed to have a poor memory of the events. The jury rejected the plea and, after 22 minutes, found him guilty of murdering his wife.

On June 29, Christie said he would not appeal against the death sentence. Fyfe said on July 13 that he would not grant a reprieve because there were no physical or psychological grounds for doing so. Some MPs tried to postpone the execution so that Christie could talk more about the earlier murders but Maxwell-Fyfe refused to grant this. Christie himself refused in the final days of his life to meet MPs in his cell. He was hanged by Albert Pierrepoint at Pentonville Prison, on the same gallows as Timothy Evans.

Controversy

While Christie neither confessed to nor was convicted of killing Geraldine Evans, public opinion widely considered him guilty, casting doubt onto the fairness of Evans' trial and execution.

To date, there exists no definitive evidence to prove or disprove Evans' innocence or Christie's guilt in Geraldine's murder, although the Brabin inquiry conducted during 1965-1966 concluded that Evans had probably killed his wife, but not his daughter. Timothy Evans was granted a posthumous pardon in 1966.

In popular culture

In 1970, the movie 10 Rillington Place was released, based largely on Kennedy's book, starring Richard Attenborough as Christie and John Hurt as Evans. Parts of the film were shot in Rillington Place itself (renamed Ruston Close after Christie's execution), using a similar neighbouring gaslit property, shortly before the entire street was cleared for redevelopment. The street, now completely redeveloped, has a garden area in the space where the building of no. 10 should be; 10 Ruston Close being a ground floor flat to the right of that garden.

The protagonist of the 2004 novel Thirteen Steps Down by Ruth Rendell is obsessed with Christie, going as far as to refer to him as 'Reggie' in his head.

Wikipedia.org


Number 10 Rillington Place

by Katherine Ramsland


The Christies

At the same nondescript three-story house in a cul-de-sac in London's Notting Hill, North Kensington, two different murderers were arrested and prosecuted.  Both were executed for their crimes, and some people think that justice was done, while others believe that one innocent man went to the gallows, set up by the other who got away with murder.  At least, he got away with that one.  Until he confessed, that is.  But the other man had confessed, too.  Who was the real killer? 

The authors who most strongly represent opposite sides of this tale are John Eddowes in his The Two Killers of Rillington Place and Ludovic Kennedy in 10 Rillington Place.  Eddowes believes that neither man is innocent and Kennedy is certain that one of them is.

The most famous of these suspects was John Reginald Halliday Christie.  In 1938, he had moved into the ground floor flat of 10 Rillington Place (now Ruston Close) with his wife, Ethel, and their dog and cat, which gave them exclusive use of the back garden.  The small Victorian house was the end house, located against a factory wall.  From there, they could hear the trains and see factory chimneys spouting smoke.  Grit lay on the windowsills and the paint was flaking off in front.  Two other flats as small as theirs occupied the upper floors.  One outhouse in the garden served for all three, as there was no bathroom on the premises.  There was also a common washhouse, although it was not always in working order. 

Christie, 40, was a quiet, inconspicuous man.  His hair was a reddish-ginger color and his eyes were pale blue.  He had an enormous forehead.  Christie's wife was plump, big-boned, sentimental and passive.  People who knew them believed she was afraid of Christie and did whatever he said.  The Christies considered themselves to be better than their neighbors, and so they maintained their privacy.  They seemed a quiet, pleasant couple, just two ordinary people who were devoted to each other, and to their dog and cat.

Originally from Yorkshire, Christie was rather high-strung and he generally relieved stress by gardening.  His father had been a severe man who whipped his children whenever he felt like it.  He also made them take long walks in a marching style.  While his father withdrew from his son's frailty, Christie's mother held him close.  He was her favorite.  She emasculated him with overprotection.  His four older sisters reinforced this feminine influence, but they dominated him.  Christie retreated inside himself, although he learned to exaggerate symptoms of poor health to attract attention.  He also developed a horror of dirt.

Christie never made friends in any lasting way, although he did well in school and got along.  He participated in church activities, including becoming part of the choir.  He also played sports and became a scoutmaster.  He liked putting on his uniform.

When he was eight, his maternal grandfather died.  Christie was asked if he wanted to see the body, which was laid out for a wake.  He said that he did and when he went to look at the man who previously had frightened him, he felt pleasure at the lack of tension he now felt.  This experience fascinated him.  He began to play in the graveyard and seemed especially taken with the broken vault that housed children's coffins.  He liked to look inside the cracks.

Sexually, he was inhibited.  He had first been disturbed at the age of ten by seeing one of his older sister's legs, up to the knee-a sister he resented.   

"There was nothing unusual in this, for it is often through their sisters that small boys first find themselves physically disturbed by the opposite sex. But in Christie's case it exaggerated an already tense situation.  He had always resented his sisters' bossing him about, and now, to add salt to his wounds, he found himself physically attracted to them.  He both loved and hated them because they aroused his masculinity and then stifled it; and this went on day after day, month after month, year after year. There must have been many occasions when he thought of his grandfather and wished them all dead." (Kennedy)

Ludovic Kennedy makes the case that Christie developed a deep hatred of women, especially those who tempted him, because he knew he could not satisfy them.  He also feared them and these feelings merged into a repressed murderous rage. While with other boys, he boasted that girls liked him, but he soon earned the nicknames "Can't-Make-It-Christie" and "Reggie-No-Dick" when his early attempts at lovemaking failed.

Leaving school at the age of fifteen, he worked as a projectionist in a movie theater.  Then World War I arrived and he entered the service as a signalman, becoming quite good at detailed work.  He saw action once when a mustard gas shell knocked him unconscious and temporarily blinded him (although Kennedy points out that there is no record of this blindness in existence).  He also lost his voice and remained silent for over three years.  Physicians determined this to be a hysterical reaction rather than a real physical malady.  Quite simply, he was afraid.  After that, he exaggerated his illness to avoid unpleasant situations.

He left the army and returned to his job.  Then he became a clerk.  In 1920, he married Ethel Simpson Waddington, despite being mostly speechless. 

His sexual difficulties continued and Ethel did nothing to help matters.  Christie had frequented prostitutes since the age of nineteen.  Although these women made no demands, they nevertheless humiliated him by reminding him of his inability with regular women.  Yet even after he was married, he did not stop patronizing them.

Early in their marriage, Christie became a postman.  He stole some postal orders and was sent to prison for three months.  After returning home, his voice returned during a temper tantrum inspired by his father.  Then he lost it again.  After six months of silence, he once again was able to speak.

At the age of 25, he was put on probation at the post office for charges of violence.  Also, stories circulated that he was frequenting prostitutes.  He left his wife and went to London.  She remained in Sheffield and got a job as a typist.

Four years later, Christie was in prison again, this time for nine months on two charges of theft.  Afterward, he went through a series of jobs, and lived with a prostitute.  He hit her over the head with a cricket bat and returned to prison for another six months.  He was suspected of violence against other women, but lack of evidence prohibited an arrest.  His life was still without direction when he got out.  Thus, a few years later, he was arrested again when he stole a car from a priest who had tried to help him.  He then asked Ethel to come and live with him after he came out of prison.

After being separated for almost ten years, Ethel rejoined her husband in London in 1933.  She was 35 and lonely, but she had no idea what kind of person she was about to move in with.  She agreed to become his wife again.

Soon Christie was hit by a car and had to be hospitalized.  (Kennedy indicates that this incident happened as soon as he arrived in London, but in any case it had the same effect.)  This began a long stage of hypochondria.  Christie stayed home a lot, with the excuse of his many ailments, and visited two doctors for a total of one hundred seventy-three times over the course of fifteen years.

At this time, political events that set the stage for World War II had created some turmoil in London and Christie signed up as a volunteer member of the War Reserve Police.  They made no inquiries about his past record, which would surely have barred him from service, and he received his uniform as a Special Constable for Harrow Road Police Station.  He remained there for four years, probably the happiest of his life.    Finally having some sense of purpose, he became almost fanatical about upholding the law, and he eventually acquired the nickname, "the Himmler of Rillington Place." 

He enjoyed the authority he had and loved wearing his uniform.  He also used the position to follow women, the notes of which he kept for many years.  To watch his neighbors, he bored a peephole into his kitchen door, and he ran down every transgressor, no matter how petty the crime.  In effect, he took himself too seriously.  Christie kept this position for four years. 

Thoroughly self-involved, he began to take advantage of his wife's frequent visits to her relatives, and he found women who responded to his advances.  It was during this time that he developed a taste for peculiar sexual activities.

He developed a relationship with a woman who worked at the police station and whose husband was in the war overseas.  While Ethel was away, Christie was to be found at this woman's house.  When the husband unexpectedly returned, he found evidence enough of his wife's infidelity to file for divorce, naming Christie as co-respondent.  He also caught Christie in his house, gave him a severe beating and threw him out.

It was afterward that Christie began inviting women to his own home.


The Evanses

In the spring of 1948, ten years after the Christies had first begun to live there, Timothy Evans and his wife, Beryl, moved into the top flat.  They had been married less than a year and were expecting their first baby.

Beryl was nineteen and petite, her husband twenty-four.  He drove a van for a living and could barely read.  Born in a mining town called Merthyr Vale in South Wales, he was abandoned by his father before he was even born.  As a child, he had suffered from uncontrollable tantrums that made things rough at home.  When he failed to get along with his mother, who had remarried a man named Probert, he moved in with his grandmother, who could not keep him in school.  Evans was known as a habitual liar, prone to self-aggrandizing fantasies, with an IQ around 70-borderline retarded.  Having suffered an injury to his foot that put him into the hospital numerous times, he ended up getting little education.

As an adult, he drank a lot and had a violent temper.  He grew to only five-foot-five, weighing just under 140 pounds, which may have fuelled his volatile temper.  He was described as a runt and for the rest of his life his intellect remained that of a boy of eleven.  His best talent appeared to be his ability to lie, and he did so quite imaginatively.  He even told people that his father was an Italian count.  As his mother put it, "He didn't have any real confidence in himself and had to lie to cover up."

He met Beryl Thorley through a mutual friend who arranged a blind date.  Within weeks, they were engaged and just as quickly were married.  They lived for awhile with Evans' mother, and Beryl developed a close relationship with his two sisters.  They thought she was almost as immature as their brother, so they helped her however they could.  She had no mother, herself, so she looked to them for security.  Nevertheless, when Beryl got pregnant, the accommodations could not bear the extra person, so the young couple moved to Rillington Place.

Evans's sister, Eileen actually found the flat for them and helped them to furnish and decorate it.  Her memory of their neighbor, Reg Christie, indicates that he might have had dangerous intentions toward her.  He came into the flat one day without her hearing him and suddenly appeared at her side with a cup of tea.  She declined it but he made no move to leave.  Finally she told him her brother would soon be back and he left as suddenly as he had come in.  She later learned what sharing tea with women meant to him.

Evans' mother, Mrs. Probert, wanted them to move into a different apartment on the ground floor, but Beryl resisted the idea.  She wanted to stay right where they were.

When the baby arrived, the Evanses named her Geraldine (although some authors spell it Jeraldine). Her birth put a strain on the marriage, since Tim's meager wages could not quite cover the bills.  In addition, Beryl turned out to be a poor housekeeper and cook.  She even neglected the baby at times.  They frequently fought, even striking one another.

In August of 1949, Beryl invited a friend of hers, Lucy Endecott, to stay with them.  It was Beryl's impression that her husband was going to work for a company overseas, but that turned out not to be true.  Lucy was seventeen.  She shared a bed with Beryl while Tim was forced to sleep on the kitchen floor.  However, the girl had other ideas and she soon came between them.  While she ended up in the middle of their arguments, some of which were violent, she attracted Tim's eye. When his mother forced her out, Tim threatened to throw Beryl out a window.  He then followed Lucy to another flat.  Apparently the girl found him to be too violent, for he soon returned home to his wife.  He went around to friends, however, threatening to do some harm to the girl.

In debt and unable to get along, Tim and Beryl moved into a rather sordid existence.  She allegedly told Mrs. Christie that Tim had attempted to strangle her.  To her horror, Beryl soon discovered she was pregnant again.  She blamed her husband.

Beryl tried to take some pills and use douches to be rid of the baby, but Tim could not see what the fuss was all about.  He did not understand that Beryl wanted to continue to work part-time so they could pay their mounting bills.  She was determined to seek an abortion and she told everyone about it, including the Christies.

Around this time, Christie had complained about the condition of the building and several workmen came on October 31st to rip out some of the walls and floors.  They also worked on the community washhouse in the rear of the building.  In addition, the second floor tenant, Mr. Kitchener, had gone into the hospital, so his apartment was empty for about five weeks.

In early November, the disaster occurred.


An Ambiguous Murder

Version 1

Christie claimed that he had spotted Beryl Evans on Tuesday, November 8th, around noon.  He saw her go out with her baby.  He told police afterward that he never saw her again. (Another version says that she went out, but left her baby in the apartment and asked Mrs. Christie to listen in once in awhile.  Evans came home and the Christies went out.  Beryl must have come home later.)

Christie knew about Beryl's determination to abort her child and had warned Evans that the pills she had taken could do her some damage.  He was also afraid that Evans had been too rough with her.  The girl seemed afraid for her life.

At midnight that night, the Christies were disturbed from sleep by a very loud thump overhead.  Then they heard a sound that indicated someone was moving something heavy around.  Mr. Kitchener was in the hospital, so that eliminated him.  It had to be the third floor, where the Evanses lived. There were no further noises, so the Christies went back to sleep.

The next day, Evans told them that Beryl had gone to Bristol.  She had told no one of her plans and had failed to bid anyone good-bye, but Evans stood by his story.  (He told his mother, however, that she had gone to Brighton to see her father-an odd thing to do since she was not close to the man.)

Another day passed and Evans came to see the Christies.  He was upset with his boss and said that he had quit, but in fact, he had been fired.  He claimed that he had decided to sell all the furniture and join his wife.  He proceeded to do so, although he owed a debt on the furniture, and he gave the dealer who collected it a fake address in Bristol.  He then gave bedding and Beryl's clothing, torn into pieces, to a ragman.  (Oddly, he tore it up for rags rather than selling it to a second hand shop, for which he could have gotten more.)  He left by train, not to Bristol, but to his aunt's home in Merthyr Vale.

Evans stayed there for six days.  During that time, he began to wonder what had become of his daughter.

On November 23rd, he returned to Rillington Place to speak to Christie.  He claimed that his wife had left him.  He did not go see his mother and sisters, who were wondering what had become of him and Beryl.  No one knew what to make of his odd behavior.  He returned to Merthyr Vale.

Version 2

According to the alternative version, spelled out in Kennedy's book, Beryl had told Lucy Endecott that Christie had offered to abort her.  She had no way of knowing that not only did he have no medical expertise but he had a more shady past than anyone yet realized-and she was about to be drawn into it.  To her mind, this former police officer with medical background and a first-aid kit was just trying to help her out of a difficult situation.

Evans discovered this arrangement on the first day of November.  He told Christie they were not interested.  Christie said he knew something about medical procedures from his stint in the War Reserve Police and had performed several successful abortions.  He showed Evans the photo of himself in uniform.  Evans still refused.

 He went upstairs to his wife, who told him that she trusted Christie and intended to allow him to do it.

Not long afterward, Evans discovered that money he had given his wife for the house had paid for other things.  They got into a serious fight over it.  He threatened to leave her and she invited him to go ahead.  Instead, we went off by himself to the movies and returned later that night.

On November 7th, Evans went to work and Beryl made arrangements with Christie to perform the abortion the following day.  She told her husband that night, but he did not believe her.  They had another argument that evening that involved shoving and slapping.

The next morning, Beryl asked Evans to tell Christie that everything was okay.  On his way to work, he did so.  Around 8:00, the carpenters returned to continue their work on the washhouse and the roof.

The rest of the story depends on which of Christie's versions of the murder is to be believed.  In his own later confession, he contradicted himself on several points.

Around noon, he says that he went up the steps to Beryl.  She unfolded a quilt in front of the fire and laid down on it in preparation.  He may have used rubber tubing to gas her, but that is not clear.  Apparently, she panicked and he began to hit her.  Then he got out a cord and strangled her.  In one account, he says he tried to have intercourse with her and couldn't, but in another he says that he did.

He also said that he had found her on the quilt attempting to kill herself with gas.  She had offered him sex if he would help her, so he did.  However, he was unable to have sex with her.

One of Beryl's friends, Joan Vincent, came over just around that time and was surprised to find the apartment door closed.  She knocked and was further surprised that Beryl seemed not to be at home.  Both of these things were unusual.  She tried the door, opening it a little but found it blocked.  Although no one spoke, she felt certain there was someone on the other side.  Finally, she went away.

Evans came home that evening and Christie met him at the bottom of the stairs.  He told Evans to go up and he would follow.  Upstairs, Christie told Evans, "It's bad news.  It didn't work."  Christie pointed to the bedroom, where Evans found his wife on the bed, covered up.  He pulled the blanket away and saw that she was dead.  She had been bleeding from the mouth, nose, and vagina.

Evans then went into the kitchen to feed his baby and Christie said he would speak with him later.  When he did, he suggested that Beryl might have died from septic poisoning, since she'd tried so many miscarriage remedies.  He himself had found her stomach to be "septic-poisoned."

Christie told Evans that going to the police would get them both into trouble, with a charge of manslaughter, and all Christie had tried to do was help.  In addition, Evans was an accomplice of sorts, since he had prior knowledge and did not stop it.  He also had a history of fights with his wife, which would make him suspect.  Evans was easily persuaded to keep the matter quiet.

Christie then proposed that he would dispose of the body himself.  However, he was unable to manage.  Together they carried Beryl into Mr. Kitchener's flat and left her in the kitchen, hoping the man would not return soon from the hospital.  Christie said he would put her down one of the drains later.

Evans wanted to take his daughter to his mother's house, but Christie dissuaded him.  He believed this would cause suspicion.  He would come up with a plan and take care of things.  They then parted and went to bed.

The next day, Christie told Evans that he would look after the baby.  He said he knew a young couple who would take her.  Evans was to tell people that Beryl and the baby had gone off on a holiday.  Christie took care of her that day, but the day after, Evans prepared the baby for transport.  Christie said the young couple would come that day to get the child.  That was the last day that anyone saw Geraldine alive.

Kennedy claims that Christie murdered her that day by strangulation, and then placed her with her mother in Kitchener's kitchen.  He was so horrified by this killing that he made himself forget his involvement with it.

That day Joan Vincent returned.  As she went up the steps, Christie came out to ask her what she wanted.  He informed her that Beryl and the baby had gone away, but she spotted the baby's high chair and pram behind him in his sitting room.  Christie told her it would be better if she did not return.

Believing he held power over Evans, Christie persuaded the man to sell his furniture and prepare to leave town.  Evans complied.

The carpenters had now finished their work in the washhouse, so Christie moved the bodies, hiding them in the washhouse.  Evidence for this was that Christie reported the next day to his doctor to treat a terrible pain in his lower back.  Despite his incessant hypochondria, he'd never before complained of this, so it was apparently quite real.  A likely cause was unaccustomed exertion, such as lifting a heavy weight.

When Evans returned on November 23rd from Merthyr Vale, he asked about his daughter and Christie told him that he must leave or they might both get into trouble. He could see his daughter in two or three weeks.  Evens returned to stay with his aunt, whereupon he told several lies about Beryl's whereabouts.

Which of these versions is true depends on how one interprets the facts.  There are problems with both and little direct evidence for either.


Evans's Confession

Mrs. Probert decided to check on the young couple's strange disappearance.  She soon discovered that Beryl had never gone to see her father.  She asked Christie what he knew and he told her not to worry.  Then she learned from her sister that Evans was staying there, awaiting Beryl, and she quickly determined that he was telling lies.  Beryl and the baby were missing and the furniture was gone from the apartment.

Evans' aunt confronted him.  Having few mental resources to cope with all of this, it was not long before he arrived at the Merthyr Tydfil police station with the odd statement, "I have disposed of my wife.  I put her down the drain."

They were not sure what to make of this.  He had not actually confessed to killing anyone, but what he did say needed to be checked out.

Evans went on to explain that his wife was dead but he did not kill her.  Afraid that mentioning Christie, a former police officer, would only end up incriminating him, he claimed that a stranger had given him something to help Beryl abort the baby.  He had met a man, he said, who had given him some medication intended for spontaneous abortion.  He allowed his wife to take the bottle from him, but he warned her not to use it.  That day, however, when he returned from work, he found her dead.  He attended to the baby and wondered what he should do.  He was afraid that the police would think he had killed her.

The next morning he put his wife's body headfirst down the drain outside the front door.  He stayed home from work, and then went in to give notice.  He also made arrangements to have someone look after his child.  He wanted someone to please find his wife and get this situation resolved.

While Evans waited in Wales, the Notting Hill police were notified.  They went to the house to investigate.  It became immediately apparent that something was amiss when it took three men to move the manhole cover.  Evans could not have done this by himself as he claimed.  Once they had it raised, they could see that there was no body.

Back at Merthyr Vale, Evans was told of this discovery.  He was amazed, but immediately changed his statement.  He would now tell the truth.

He said that there was no stranger who had given him abortion pills.  Rather, it was his neighbor, Reg Christie, who had put Beryl down the drain.  Evans had claimed it only to protect himself from Christie.  He said that Christie had offered to help Beryl abort the child, but warned that the concoction he used was dangerous and could kill her.  She wanted to try it, so when Evans left for work on November 8th, Beryl had gone to see Christie.  The stuff she took had killed her.  When Evans had returned home, he had found her bleeding from every orifice.

He had attended to the baby while Christie moved the corpse.  Christie had returned with the story that he had left her in Mr. Kitchener's flat for the time being.  He would wait until dark to put the body down one of the drains.  He then told Evans that he knew of some people who would take Geraldine.  Evans was to give Christie all of Geraldine's things.  When Evans came home on Thursday, his child was gone.  Christie had said he had taken care of everything.  He told Evans to sell his furniture and leave, which he did.

As the investigation intensified, Evans added things to his story.  He admitted that he had helped Christie to carry his wife down to the other flat, but only because Christie could not do it on his own.  He also said he had visited Christie several weeks later to inquire after his child but was told it was too soon to see her.  He asked that they contact his mother to find out the address of the couple who had taken his child.  He wanted to know how she was.

The police investigated the house and garden at 10 Rillington Place, but their search was superficial.  They never even saw the human thigh bone in the garden that propped up a fence, let alone did any digging.  Otherwise, they might have found a few surprises.  Christie's dog dug up a skull, but the police failed to notice this as well.  Christie tossed the skull into a bombed out house nearby, where after it was discovered, there was endless speculation over who the unfortunate air-raid victim was.

What they did find in Evans' mostly empty apartment was puzzling.  Among a pile of papers by a window, there were clippings from the newspaper of a sensational torso murder, known as the Stanley Setty case.  This was odd, since Evans did not read, but the apparent plant by someone else failed to register with anyone.  It just looked incriminating.  There was also a stolen briefcase.

Evans was arrested for the briefcase and brought back to London for further questioning.  Christie was also summoned for an interview that lasted six hours.  He was savvy about what to say and the police accepted him as one of their own.  Another officer questioned Mrs. Christie, who had been coached by her husband.  Christie dismissed Evans' accusations as ridiculous.  The man was a known liar.  He then went on to recount how violent the marriage had been.

When Beryl and the baby could not be located, the police searched the house again.  They then went into the back yard and tried to get into the washhouse, but the door was stuck.  Mrs. Christie brought them a piece of metal to loosen it.  Inside, it was dark.  They noticed some wood standing against the sink.  One of the officers reached behind it and felt something.  They moved the wood and saw what appeared to be a package wrapped in a green tablecloth and tied up with cord.  Mrs. Christie claimed she had never seen it before and did not know what it was.

They pulled the package out further and untied the cord.  A pair of feet slipped out, revealing the decaying corpse of Beryl Evans.

Further searching produced the baby, lying under some wood behind the door.  Both had been strangled.  A man's tie was still around the baby's neck.

Dr. Donald Teare, the Home Office pathologist, arrived to examine the bodies.  He then took them to Kensington Mortuary.

An autopsy indicated that both had been dead about three weeks.  Beryl had been bruised over the lip and right eye, as if she had been hit.  She had been strangled with a cord of some kind, like a rope.  There was no evidence that she had taken anything to try to abort her three-month-old fetus, but there was bruising inside her vagina.  Unaccountably, the doctor neglected to take a vaginal swab to check for semen.

Christie was asked to identify the clothing taken from the two corpses.  He knew Beryl's skirt and blouse, but claimed he did not know the tie that had been around Geraldine's neck.  He thought he might have seen it on Evans.  (Jesse indicates that it had belonged to the absent Mr. Kitchener.)

When Tim Evans was returned to London from Wales, all he was told on the way was that he was going to be questioned about a briefcase found in his apartment that belonged to someone else. When he arrived in London, however, there was no doubt in his mind that he was being arrested for murder.  Photographers were standing outside the police station to take pictures.  He was shown the pile of clothing taken from the bodies, with the tie on top, and was told that his wife and daughter had been found.  Tears came to his eyes and he bent down and picked up the tie.

That night, the Notting Hill police took two more confessions from Evans. He first admitted that he was responsible for their deaths and added that it was a relief to get it off his chest.  He said he had killed his wife because she was running up debts.  They had quarreled and he had hit her.  Then he had strangled her with a piece of rope.  He wrapped her body in the tablecloth in which she had been found and took her to the apartment below.  After that, he put it in the washhouse at midnight on November 8th.  The next day he fed the baby and left her alone all day.  He repeated this again the day after.  Then he quit his job and came home and killed his child by strangling her with his tie.  He put her into the washhouse as well.

(Kennedy points out that Evans could not have put any bodies into the washhouse on those days because the carpenters were still in and out, and would have noticed.  He also claims that this confession used words beyond Evans' intellectual capability, and that if he had sold all of his furniture, he'd certainly have included the baby's pram and highchair.  Instead, he gave them to Christie, an indication that he believed his daughter was being given to the couple that Christie said he knew.)

Evans then offered a longer confession, which took about seventy-five minutes to record and read back to him. (Evans apparently claimed that in fact he was up all night talking with the police, until five o'clock in the morning.  Kennedy points out the impossibility that this lengthy statement was taken in such a short amount of time and he believes that Evans was indeed subjected to a much longer interrogation.)

Painstakingly, Evans went through as much detail as he could recall about the days leading up to the murder, including hitting Beryl in the face.  After that, in a fit of temper, he strangled her.  He included putting her in the washhouse and using wood to hide the body.  However, he twice made the statement that he had locked the washhouse door, and this was untrue, since the carpenters had been in and out of it all week without having to get someone to unlock it.  Also the wood used to hide the bodies had come from the flooring that was pulled up on November 11th-which the carpenter recalled Christie asking for.  At any rate, it was not available on the 8th and 10th.  He also never gave an explanation as to why he killed his baby.  He also said he left the rope around Beryl's neck, although no rope was ever found.  Beryl also weighed only about ten to fifteen pounds less than Evans, so he could not easily, nor soundlessly, have dragged her past where the Christie's bedroom overlooked the backyard.  He also said that he left his baby unattended for two long days, with no one reporting her crying.

Kennedy suggests that at the very least, the police edited the statements and possibly even guided Evans' confession.  People who feel coerced or who seek relief have been known to confess to crimes they did not commit.  It is not altogether unlikely, especially in light of Evan's limited intelligence.

After the arraignment, when his mother came to see him, he had changed his mind.  "I didn't do it, Mam," he insisted.  "Christie done it."

Nevertheless, he continued to repeat the story he had told how he had done it to Dr. Matheson in the prison.  He did it voluntarily, without prompting or questioning.  Evans told how he strangled his wife but stopped short of talking about her disposal, saying it distressed him.  However, he did not seem distressed.  The doctor felt the story was genuine.  He told the story several more times during his confinement, without accusing Christie.  He gave the impression that it was a relief to get it all off his chest.

He also mentioned that he and Hume-the killer of Setty-had been together at Brixton and he remarked that he had often talked about that case.  Thus it could be that the clippings in his flat were indeed his and possibly someone else had read them to him.  The way his wife's body had been parceled was similar to the way Hume did with Setty.  At no time prior to his trial did he protest his innocence to those who guarded him.

Soon, the whole affair was finally decided in court.


The Trial of Timothy Evans

On January 11, 1950, Evans was tried at the Old Bailey for the murder of his baby, but his wife's murder was also included in the testimony.  Mr. Justice Lewis, whose health was quickly deteriorating, presided.  Christmas Humphreys was the prosecutor and he relied on Christie as his chief witness.  He wanted to avoid the kind of motive that the defense could put forth in the case of Beryl-provocation-because that could introduce a charge of manslaughter, with a lesser sentence.  In cases where two murders occur that can be linked as part of one transaction, evidence about both can be included.  The baby's murder was clearly cold-blooded and without motive, so that was the best one on which to proceed.

The firm of Freeborough, Slack, and Company took up Evans' case, but failed to follow through on any investigation.  It was as if they thought him obviously guilty and had no reason to expend any effort.  They failed to question Joan Vincent and the carpenters, and never looked into Christie's criminal record.  All of these things would have gone toward reasonable doubt.

What the prosecution had, however, was not one but four separate confessions by Tim Evans, along with evidence that matched what he said.

One of the odd statements taken by police was from Mrs. Christie, who claimed that they used the washhouse to get water each day, but she had never noticed anything unusual.  That would mean that she had entered on two dozen occasions while the bodies were there and had not smelled anything.  She had a dog that also had detected nothing.  The room only measured four by five feet. Her statement seems unlikely.  (In court, she claimed they never used the washhouse, but no one noticed the discrepancy.)

Christie claims that he had noticed the wood in front of the sink on November 14th at 7:30 a.m., but had not put it there.  However, it was the wood given to him by the carpenter who pulled up the flooring, and that was done on November 14th, at 10 a.m.   Again, no one spotted this problem.

In fact, no one's statement supported what Evans had said, including those of the workmen who had been on the premises.  They had kept their tools in the washhouse and had cleared the place out on the 11th.  Had there been two bodies, someone would have noticed.  However, no written statement was taken from the carpenter who had given the wood to Christie.

Apparently the police were aware of this problem.  Subsequent to another police interrogation, Kennedy claims, the carpenters changed some of their statements.  One was even shown a photo of a dead baby, unrelated to this crime, as an attempted emotional manipulation. 

The carpenter, Anderson, was shown a photo of the wood that Evans had said he'd used to hide his wife.  He recognized it as the flooring pulled up on the 11th, but he reworded his statement to pulling it up a few days earlier to accommodate police.  Yet he got it wrong, because he did not give Christie the wood until three days after he had pulled it up, so it still could not have been used by Evans to hide his wife and daughter on the 8th and 10th.  In addition, one time sheet that proved that the original statements by the carpenters were true appears to have been confiscated by police and never returned.  It is the only one missing from that company's files.

Malcolm Morris, the barrister who defended Christie, received a brief from Freeborough that suggested an insanity defense or an alternative charge of manslaughter.  It could be, they said, that he had killed his child as the result of an insane impulse to avoid the discovery of the murder of his wife.  The autopsy evidence from Dr. Teare that there may have been a post-mortem attempt at sexual penetration on Beryl suggests a "sadistic mania."  Freeborough believed they should keep a lid on this information.  Morris viewed it as a piece of information that would make his work harder, so he ignored it.  No one knew at the time that Christie was capable of such a thing.

Morris visited Evans several times, whereupon Evans told him that he had believed that the police would beat him up if he did not confess.  That was important information for a false confession defense.  In addition, there was no evidence that Evans was insane, making such a defense hard to prove.  Evans kept insisting it was Christie who did it, but Morris thought it unlikely that they would succeed in pinning it on the neighbor.  Nevertheless, Evans stuck to his story that this is what had happened, so Morris agreed to prepare it.

His first move was to try to bar any testimony about Beryl Evans' murder, but the judge allowed it.  That meant Morris had to work hard.

The prosecution presented the following case: Evans and his wife had difficulty and when he lost his job, he became depressed.  He then killed his wife and child, telling lies to everyone he knew about their whereabouts.  His various stages of confession ended with a full telling of how he had killed both.  The fourth confession was accepted as the true story.

 They called Dr. Teare and Reginald Christie, but did not call the carpenters, and since the defense knew nothing about them, these men never testified.

Christie's demeanor on the stand impressed people.  His pleasant, thoughtful testimony, sprinkled with references to himself as both a hero and victim, was in sharp contrast to Evans' apparent dazed and guilt-ridden presentation.  Christie made sure the jury knew of his war service and the physical ailments he currently suffered.  His voice was quiet and often difficult to hear.  He considered each of his answers and tried to be as detailed and specific as possible.  It seemed clear that this virtuous man was doing his best to be helpful.

Morris attempted to show another side.  At the last minute, he had learned of Christie's criminal past and he tried to bring that out, but the fact that Christie had been on the straight-and-narrow for the past seventeen years further impressed the court: A man who could have gone bad had turned around.

Oddly, Morris raised the issue of the builders, but did not himself check into the facts.  Christie told several lies to make it look as if the wood had been available to Evans earlier than it had, but that meant that Evans had dragged Beryl over a floor that had been torn up.  Was that true?  Christie could not make a definitive point, but he took the opportunity to play up his ailments, for which there was no medical proof.  He played to the sympathies of the jury to deflect them away from Morris's line of thought.

For some unexplained reason, no one thought to call the furniture dealer, whom Evans said Christie had recommended, to determine if the man knew Christie and had spoken to him before buying Evans' furniture.  That would have been a telling point and a clear indication that Christie was lying.

Evans claimed to be innocent, but it was popularly believed that he was trying to save himself by throwing the blame on Christie.  Since Evans was already a known liar, and since he conducted himself poorly in the witness box, he proved to be less than convincing.  He claimed that he had not known of his daughter's death until he was shown her clothing in the Notting Hill Police Station.  Her demise stripped him of all hope, so he had capitulated into a false confession. 

He was also afraid that the police would beat him up to get him to confess, so he had spared himself the physical abuse.  The last thing he noted was that he felt he should protect Christie, but he failed to adequately explain why.  He also could not say why Christie had killed his wife and daughter, other than to say, "Well, he was home all day."

Kennedy claims that Evans, being unable to read, had mixed up the exhibits and made statements about his demeanor during certain confessions that were inaccurate.  That confusion further turned the jury against him.  His reasons for confessing appeared to be absurd. 

How had he managed to describe the murders in such accurate detail?  He said that the police had given him enough information to do so.  He had also seen what Beryl had been wrapped in.  The police officers involved denied this.

The prosecution's closing speech lasted less than ten minutes.  Christie had been too ill at the time to have done what Evans claimed he had done and also had no motive.  Evan's guilt is obvious.

Morris was unprepared for such a short speech.  He had expected to have overnight to get his notes together, but he had to go ahead.  He locked onto the idea that at no time until he was directly told did Evans mention that his daughter was dead.  He only confessed it after being shown the evidence, whereas he had talked freely of disposing of his wife's body. 

In fact, it was odd that he would come back to a murder scene if he in fact knew that both his wife and daughter were dead.  Rather, he would have stayed away.  Yet he did visit Christie on the 23rd, even making the statement that no one had seen him.  That indicated that he believed little Geraldine was still alive and that Christie must know something. 

At the police station, Evans even asked that his mother go find out the address of the couple that Christie told him had taken her.  Morris emphasized Evans' second confession in which Christie was implicated.  Much of the information in that statement, he pointed out, could not have been made up by an uneducated man. 

In fact, the very idea that he would know of a medical book that Christie had when he himself did not read was incongruous.  He also had included circumstantial details that indicated something he had heard rather than something he had fabricated.  He reminded the jury that they did not have to say that Christie did it in order to say there was some doubt that Evans did it.  The case did not have to be resolved.

The next morning the judge then gave his charge to the jury that the case was about the child's death only.  He ignored Morris' point about the medical text and Evans' inability to read.  He also gave the jury only two options: either Dr. Teare was lying about his autopsy results or Evans was lying.  He never even mentioned Christie's dishonesty as a possibility.  In fact, he went so far as to remind jurors of Christie's shining record since his early transgressions, and of Evans' record as a liar. 

He also used sarcasm when summing up Evans' reason for killing his child.  Altogether, it was prejudiced against Evans and toward Christie.  There seemed no doubt to some who listened that the jury knew what the judge wanted them to do.

It took them only forty minutes to reach a verdict: Guilty.  Evans was swiftly condemned to die.  Christie, in the courtroom, burst into tears.  Outside, Mrs. Probert shouted at Christie, "Murderer, murderer!"  Mrs. Christie defended him as a good man.

Although he stuck to his story and tried one attempt at an appeal, Evans went quietly to the gallows on March 9th that same year.


Mrs Christie Disappears

Mr. Kitchener in the flat above had moved out.  The Evanses were gone.  Mrs. Christie felt that it was time to move to a new place, especially when the Jamaicans moved in on the third floor.  She thought they were low class and frightening.  She detested sharing an outhouse with them.

In addition, Christie was growing worse with his complaining about his various physical problems.  Shortly after the trial, he had gone into a deep depression, losing about twenty-eight pounds.  He also lost his job at the post office, due to certain disclosures during the trial about past crimes.  Finally, he went in for a three-week observation period.  A psychiatrist wanted to hospitalize him for analysis, but he refused to leave his wife alone.  Nevertheless, he continued to visit his own doctor, going thirty-three times in eight months for stress-related symptoms.

Then he found another job as a clerk with the British Road Services and things improved.  It was not long, however, before he gave notice.  He claimed that he had found a better job, but in fact he had nothing at all.  Once again he was underfoot at home.

Ethel was not too pleased, but she found ways to divert herself.  Christie hoped she would visit relatives as she used to do, but she did not.  That annoyed him.  He had some things in mind that he wanted to do and he could not accomplish them with his wife around.  She had also been taunting him about his impotence, which angered him.

On Thursday, December 11th, five days after Christie had quit his job, Ethel went to watch television with a friend, Rosie.  The next day, she took wash to Maxwell Laundries and appeared, to those who saw her, well and cheerful.  She said nothing to anyone about taking a trip.  After that, no one saw her again.

On Monday, Christie sent a letter that Ethel had written to her sister in Sheffield.  He had changed the date from the 10th, when she originally had written it, to the 15th, explaining that Ethel had no envelopes so he had mailed the letter from work.

Christie then began to tell neighbors that his wife had gone off to Sheffield.  He himself had a new job there and would follow her shortly.  Some of them were surprised that Ethel had not said good-bye, nor mentioned any such plans.  Christie then told one person, Rosie, that Ethel had sent a telegram and had mentioned her with affection.  He thought that was sufficient to keep her from prying any further.

To relatives, he said that Ethel was not feeling well enough to write to them or send Christmas greetings.  He sent a few gifts "from Ethel and Reg."

Oddly, he began to sprinkle his house and garden with a strong disinfectant, and people noticed the odor.

In January, Christie sold all of his furniture to a dealer.  He also sold his wife's wedding band and watch.  Without a bed, he slept on an old mattress on the floor.  All he had left were three chairs-one of which was quite significant to him-and a kitchen table.

To get money, he forged his wife's signature on an account she had and emptied it.  With that, he stayed in his unfurnished flat into March, no longer even bothering to answer the letters from relatives inquiring after his wife.

One day he noticed a woman, Mrs. Reilly, looking for a place to rent and invited her to look at his.  She brought her husband, which Christie had not anticipated.  They decided to take the flat, paying three months rent in advance.  Christie borrowed a suitcase from them and moved out on March 20th.  He had his dog destroyed but left his cat with the renters.  He took their money and left.

The Reillys were not in the flat even one day when they learned from the real landlord that Christie had no right to rent the flat.  They were asked to leave.  Both they and the landlord were out the rent money, but since the place smelled so bad, they were happy to vacate.

Christie himself was on the move.  He did not wish to be around when certain discoveries were made.


Discovery at Rillington Place

The landlord now had an empty flat, so he allowed the upstairs tenant, Beresford Brown, to use the kitchen.  Brown noticed a bad smell, so he began to clean things up.  It then occurred to him that he might install a new shelf on the wall for his wireless radio.  He began to knock on the walls to find the proper place and discovered one that sounded hollow.  He assumed there was a cupboard behind it.

Brown pulled away some of the wallpaper.  He was pleased to see that there was a door, but it was closed fast.  He shone a light through the crack and then stepped back, uncertain that he had seen what he thought he'd seen.  It looked to him as if a naked woman were inside that wall.  He had seen her back.

He contacted the police.  Chief Superintendent Peter Beveridge attended to the matter.  Several officers arrived at Rillington Place, along with the coroner.  Chief Inspector Percy Law of Scotland Yard was also among them, as was a pathologist. When the door was opened they all saw the corpse of a woman sitting amid some rubble.  She was leaning forward, her back to them.

Behind her was something equally large, wrapped in a blanket.  The blanket was knotted to the victim's bra, which was pulled up high toward her neck.  Otherwise, she wore only a garter belt and stockings.  Her black sweater and white jacket were pulled up high around her neck.

She was removed and taken to the front room for a photograph and examination.  It was soon clear that she had been strangled with a ligature.  Her wrists were tied in front of her with a handkerchief that had been wrapped into a special knot, known as a reef knot.  The body was fairly well preserved.

Next, the police focused on the other object in the cupboard.  As they photographed it, they noticed another tall, wrapped object just beyond it.  They pulled out the first one and soon discovered that it was another body.  It had been stood on its head in the cupboard and propped like that against the wall.  The blanket had been fastened with a sock into a reef knot around the ankles, and the head was wrapped in a pillowcase, also tied into a reef knot with a stocking.

The third object was yet another corpse.  This one was also upside down, with her head beneath the second body.   Her ankles were tied with an electrical cord, using a reef knot.  A cloth covered the head and was similarly knotted.

Nothing else was produced from that cupboard, and the bodies were shipped to the mortuary.  The police prepared to do a more thorough search, not fully aware as yet of what the Reillys had slept with on their one and only night in the flat.

The investigators noticed some floorboards loose in the parlor, so they pulled these up and found more loose rubble.  They started to dig and quickly found yet another female corpse.  They left it with a police guard for the night and determined to return the next day to go through the entire place.

At the mortuary, four autopsies were performed.  The results were as follows:

Brunette, age around 20 (later determined to be 26); she had been dead around four weeks.  She had died from strangulation and carbon monoxide poisoning.  It was surmised that she had been under the effects of the poisoning when she was strangled with a smooth-surface type of cord.  She had been sexually assaulted at the time of death, or shortly after.  Scratch marks on her back indicated that she had been dragged across the floor after she died.

Around 25 years old with light brown hair, poorly manicured hands and feet, healthy.  She was pinkish in color-a sign of gas poisoning-and had been asphyxiated by strangulation.  She also had had sexual intercourse near the time of death, and had been drinking heavily that day.  She wore a cotton cardigan and vest, and another white vest had been placed between her legs in a diaper-like fashion.  She had died 8-12 weeks earlier.

Blond, around 25 years old, poorly manicured.  She wore a dress, petticoat, bra, cardigan, two vests, with a piece of material placed between her legs.  She was pinkish in color, and had been gassed and asphyxiated.  She had been drinking shortly before death, which had taken place 8-12 weeks earlier.  She was also six months pregnant.

The fourth body, brought to the mortuary the next day, was of a much older woman, in her fifties, plump, and with several teeth missing.  She had been rolled up in a flannel blanket, her head covered with a pillowcase.  A silk nightgown and a flowered dress were wrapped around her, under the blanket.  She wore stockings, pulled up.  She had been dead 12-15 weeks.  Unlike the others, there were no signs of coal gas poisoning or sexual intercourse.  She had been strangled, probably by ligature.

It was now time to find out who they were.  It was not hard to discover that the older woman under the floorboards was Ethel Christie.  The others were all prostitutes whom Christie had brought home to his near-empty flat: Hectorina McLennan, 26; Kathleen Maloney, 26; and Rita Nelson, 25.

Police went through the entire flat, aware that a double murder had been committed there in an upstairs flat.  They found a man's suit under the floor of the common hall area, which had been open during the time of the Evans' murders.  In the kitchen cupboard was a man's tie, fashioned into a reef knot.  They also found potassium cyanide in another area of the apartment and a tobacco tin that contained four clumps of pubic hair-none of which came from the bodies found in the kitchen.

Police had also searched the garden. They noticed the human femur this time, in plain view supporting the wooden fence.  More bones were found in flowerbeds and some blackened skull bones with teeth and pieces of a dress turned up in a dustbin.  Bones were also found beneath an orange blossom bush.  Nearby was a newspaper fragment dated July 19th, 1943.  A quantity of hair was discovered, along with some teeth.  They determined that, although only one skull was found, there were two female corpses in the garden.  That made a total of six at Rillington Place.

The skeletons were reconstructed for identification purposes.  It was soon determined from a tooth crown that one of the victims, both of whom were female, was from Germany or Austria.  She was young, around 21, and tall-around five feet seven inches.  The other was between 32 and 35, and only about five feet two.  They both had been in the garden at least three years and may have been there as long as ten years.

It was soon discovered that Ruth Margarete Fuerst had arrived in England from Austria in 1939 and had been missing since August 24th, 1943.  She was then 21, about five feet eight.  When she disappeared, she had been staying in Notting Hill.

The other victim seemed likely to be a Muriel Amelia Eady, 32, who had worked at a factory with Christie.  She was five-foot-one and had dark hair.  The hair in Christie's garden matched hair from one of Eady's dresses, still kept at her former home.  She had been wearing a black wool dress when last seen, like the remains of one found in the garden soil.

The search was now on for Christie himself.


Christie's First Victim

While Christie was on the police reserve force, his wife made frequent trips to visit her relatives in Sheffield.  In 1943, Christie took up with a woman whose husband was overseas.  It ended when the man returned home unexpectedly and booted Christie from the premises.

Nevertheless, there were always women around who were amenable to his attentions.  In a bar one day, he encountered an Austrian girl named Ruth Fuerst. She was 21, tall, and full of life.  Her eyes and hair were both brown.  Having taken a job in a munitions factory, she lived in a single room not far from Rillington Place.  There is some evidence that she may also have earned money from time to time as a prostitute.  She began to visit Christie at Rillington Place when his wife was away.  One day when they were in bed, a telegram arrived to announce that Ethel was on her way home, accompanied by her brother.  According to Christie, Ruth had simply undressed and asked him to have relations with her.  Then she wanted him to run off with her, but he refused.  Instead, he strangled the girl right there on the bed while they were having sex.  He wrapped her in her leopard coat and put her under the floorboards in the front room, with the rest of her clothes.  When Ethel and her brother arrived, everything seemed normal.  The brother left the next day, and Ethel went to her part-time job.

When he was able, Christie removed the body from the house and placed it in the washhouse out in back.  He started to dig in the garden, on the right-hand side, but his wife came home and they had a cup of tea together.  He waited until she went to bed that night and then returned to his gruesome task.  He placed the dead woman with her clothes into the hole, covered it up with earth, and went to bed.  "The next day," he confessed, "I straightened the garden and raked it over." He pulled up some of Ruth's clothing and burned it in the old dustbin. Months later, Christie accidentally unearthed her skull.  He put it into the dustbin to be burned with other rubbish.

The girl's disappearance was reported to the police on September 1st, but her whereabouts remained a mystery.

Kennedy surmises that Christie acted out as a result of his humiliation at the hands of the cuckolded soldier.  He could not abide knowing his own weakness, so he had found a way to assert power.  That gave him an erotic release and afterward he was unable to achieve potency with women unless they were helpless.  "I remember," Christie wrote later, "as I gazed down at the still form of my first victim, experiencing a strange, peaceful thrill."  Afterward, he gave it no thought.

A year later, Ethel went visiting to Sheffield once again and Christie met someone else.


Christie's Dark Addiction

When his stint with the War Reserve Police ended, Christie got a job with a radio firm, Ultra Radio Works, in Acton.  Ethel, too, had a job with an electric light company.  It was not long before Christie met his second victim, Muriel Eady, 32, who worked in the assembly department.  They encountered each other in the company canteen.  She lived with her aunt and had a steady boyfriend. She was short and heavy, with dark brown hair.  Christie often invited Muriel and her friend for tea, served by his wife.  Once the foursome went to the movies together.

Christie decided to lure her into his home so he could repeat what he had done to Ruth Fuerst.  "I planned it all out very carefully," he later wrote.

In October, 1944, Ethel went to Sheffield to visit relatives.  The opportunity was at hand.  Christie had told Muriel that, due to his first-aid background from being with the War Reserve, he had a remedy for the catarrh from which she suffered.  She came over alone.

This time, he would avoid a struggle.  He had prepared himself.  He told Muriel that he had a special kind of inhaler that would work quite well.  Into a jar he had put some inhalant, disguised with the odor of friar's balsam.  He had made two holes in the top of the jar, one of which he used for a small hose that he ran to the gas supply.  That tube ran into the liquid and another tube came out the other hole and did not touch the liquid, but was meant to keep the stuff from smelling like gas. According to his own account, after first giving her a cup of tea, he had Muriel sit on a kitchen chair with a scarf over her head to inhale his concoction.  

As Muriel breathed in, she inhaled carbon monoxide.  In less than a minute, it weakened her, which gave Christie the opportunity to strangle her with a stocking.  All the while, he had sex with her.  "I had intercourse with her while I strangled her."  Having no air supply, she quickly expired.  Christie once again experienced the peaceful thrill over the body of his victim.

He then placed her in the communal washhouse while he dug a hole for her in the garden.  He buried her, fully dressed, not far from the first grave.  Later, digging around in the garden, he came across a broken femur bone, so he used it to prop up the trellis.

Some authors believe that Christie was a necrophile, but others claim that all sexual activity took place before death.  No one really knows, however, and he certainly kept the bodies close by.

Necrophilia -- having sex with the unconscious or dead, and keeping them close -- has three variants: violent, fantasy, and romantic.  The violent types have an overpowering urge to be near a corpse, so they kill in order to achieve this.  They may then keep a corpse around to work it over again, or go visit it where it was dumped.

Fantasy necrophiles make death a central part of their erotic imagery.  They may ask a lover to "play dead" during a sexual act or take photos of that person looking dead over which they can later masturbate.  Christie apparently needed them to be unconscious, in a deathlike pose, if not dead.

The romantic types feel such a strong bond with those they kill that they keep them around after death.  They may not touch them again, but want them nearby.  It does not matter, in this case, whether Christie had sex with a dying woman or a corpse.  He kept each one close by.  If someone says that he feared the consequences of his wife finding out, so that's why he killed them, such a motive applies only to the first two, for his wife was the third one to go, and the last three were prostitutes.  However, with the first one, he says that he strangled her while having intercourse and that as he pulled away from her, excrement and urine came out of her.  That would indicate that she was dead before he was finished.

There can be little doubt that the dying women excited him, and perhaps it goes back to his desire to punish the girl who ridiculed him after a failed adolescent encounter.  Kennedy makes the case that Christie was dominating and killing his mother and sisters as well to get them back for all the times they dominated him.  In any event, killing women made him feel peaceful and powerful.  The presence of the pubic hair collection indicated another type of perversion, but Christie had to be caught before anyone could make sense of it.


The Arrest and Trial

Christie claimed that after he left Rillington Place, he fully intended to return, but ended up placing his borrowed suitcase into a locker and wandering around various London neighborhoods.  On March 20, 1953, he booked a room at the King's Cross Rowton House with his real name and address.  He asked for seven nights, but only stayed four.  It could be that he heard about the wide-scale police search for him and decided it was better to find another place to stay.  His name was on the front page of every newspaper.  Since he was at large, he was considered a danger to unwary females.

A photograph of him in a raincoat appeared, along with a complete description. At that point, Christie switched coats, buying an overcoat from another man.  He gave that man his own raincoat.  He later claimed that he wandered in a daze, but the fact that he had the wherewithal to contrive a bit of a disguise disputed this.  He also said that he did see headlines about corpses at his house, but did not connect them with himself.

As he ran out of money, he walked around wherever he could and took naps on benches and in movie theaters.  Eventually he wandered to the banks of the Thames.  On that last day of March, a police officer spotted him on the Putney Embankment.  By that time, Christie had been wandering for ten days.  The constable asked him who he was and he gave a false name and address.  Then he was asked to take off his hat, exposing the high, balding forehead said to be characteristic of Christie, and he was arrested.

On his person were his identity card, a ration book, his Union card, an ambulance badge, and oddly, an old newspaper clipping about the remand of Timothy Evans, with details about those killings.

At the Putney Police station, Christie willingly gave his statement about the murders, but only talked about four.  He hinted that there was something else that he could not quite remember, possibly hedging to see if the police had yet discovered the skeletons in the garden.

Of his wife, he said that her moving around in bed awakened him.  Her face was blue and she was choking.  It seemed to him too late to call for assistance; he tried but failed to restore her breathing.  Unable to bear her suffering, he got a stocking and strangled her.  He then found a bottle that had contained Phenobarbitone tablets, that was now nearly empty.  They were for his insomnia and he realized she had taken them to kill herself.  She had been deeply depressed over the new tenants, whom she viewed as persecuting her (according to Christie).  He left her there in the bed for two or three days, and then when he recalled that there were some loose boards in the front room and a depression in the ground beneath, he wrapped her in a blanket and placed her there to keep her near him.  "I thought that was the best way to lay her to rest."  He claimed he did not know what else to do-as if he did not already have two corpses out in the garden.

The other three women, too, were "not his fault."  Since they were women of disrepute, he claimed they were the aggressors, with him, a man of virtue who had no choice but do what he did.  In his statement, Christie reversed the order of when he met the first two, but given their relative positions in the cupboard, it's fairly clear that his memory was in error.  Medical tests also indicated that Rita Nelson was the first to die.

Rita Nelson, 25, allegedly had demanded money from Christie in the street. (Christie says this was Kathleen Maloney, but it was Rita Nelson whom he killed first, so he seems to have gotten the names mixed up.) Eddowes says she was killed on January 2, 1953, while Kennedy places her death closer to January 19th.  Since she had visited a medical office on the 12th, where she was tested and determined to be twenty-four months pregnant, Kennedy may be more accurate.  She was referred to the Samaritan Hospital for Women, but never arrived.  It was her landlady who reported her missing.

According to Christie's account, Nelson (or Maloney) told him she would scream and accuse him of assault if he didn't give her thirty shillings.  He walked away and she followed, forcing her way into his house.  She picked up a frying pan to hit him.  They struggled and she fell back on a chair that happened to have a rope hanging from it.  Christie blacked out and woke up to find her strangled.  He left her there, had some tea, and went to bed.  When he discovered her still there in the morning, he wrapped her up, diapered her, and shoved her into the cupboard.  "I pulled away a small cupboard in the corner," he recalled, "and gained access to a small alcove."

Kennedy believes it is more likely that he met her in a pub, learned of her troubles, and offered to abort her.  That was how he got her home. 

Around the same time, Christie encountered Kathleen Maloney, 26, although he recalled that it was February.*  Christie had met her before.  Three weeks before Christmas, he had gone with her and another prostitute to a room where he had taken photographs of the other girl in the nude.

On this night, he went into a Notting Hill café and sat at a table where Kathleen and another girl were discussing their search for flats.  Kathleen was an orphan who had given birth thus far to five illegitimate children. That night, she went home with Christie and was never seen again. He later claimed that she had made advances as a way to get him to use his influence with the landlord and then threatened violence.  He said he only recalled that she was on the floor and that he put her into the cupboard right away.  He did not recall killing her.  In fact, however, he had devised a new gas contraption.  He placed her in the chair-an easy matter since she was quite drunk-and used the gas.  Then he strangled her with a rope.  He had intercourse with her and placed a diaper between her legs.  He then went to bed.  (He did not confess the sexual contact or the gassing of these women until later.)

The next morning, he made tea with the corpse still sitting in the chair. He wrapped her body in a blanket, put a pillowcase over her head, and placed her inside the alcove.  Her body lay on the floor with her legs vertical against the back wall.  He covered her with dirt and ashes and then closed up the cupboard.

Another woman, Mrs. Margaret Forrest, met Christie and listened to him brag about his medical expertise.  She made an appointment to come and take his treatment for migraines, but failed to show up.  It is likely that she was targeted as a potential victim, since Christie told her that his treatment involved gas.  When she failed to meet her first appointment, he came looking for her and was quite angry.  He insisted she come immediately to his house.  She agreed to do so, but lost the address-fortunately for her.

Christie's statement about Hectorina McLennan, 26, indicated that she and her boyfriend were hard up for a place to stay, so he had invited them to share with him.  They stayed together in a barely furnished flat for several uncomfortable days. In one version of the story, Christie had asked the two people to leave.  The girl returned along the next night to wait for her boyfriend and when Christie tried to get her out, they struggled.  Some of her clothing got torn.  She fell limp and sank to the floor, and Christie thought that some of her clothing got wrapped around her neck.  He pulled her into the kitchen and sat her on a chair.  She seemed to be dead, so he stashed her in the cupboard as well.

He also confessed another version.  While Hectorina and her boyfriend were at the Labour Exchange, Christie showed up and invited Hectorina to come to his house that morning alone.  He poured her a drink and then unfastened a clasp that released the gas.  She tried to leave, but he stopped her in the hallway.  "I seized hold of her by the neck and applied just sufficient pressure to make her limp.  I took her back to the kitchen and I decided that it was essential to use the gas again.  I made love to her, and then put her back in the chair.  I killed her."  He shoved her into the alcove in a sitting position.  He kept her upright by hooking her brassiere to the blanket around Maloney's legs.

When Hectorina's boyfriend came looking for her, Christie denied having seen her.  He invited the man in to have a look around and made him some tea, whereupon he noticed a nasty odor.  However, he left without further exploration.

In Brixton prison, several psychiatrists examined Christie, and he provided many details, although not all of them accurate.  The doctors were unanimous in their dislike of the man.  He was "nauseating" and "sniveling."  He seemed always to whisper when asked a question that he did not like, as he had at the Evans trial.  He also dissociated when describing his foul deeds, talking about himself in the third person as if he were a spectator.  His confessions were peppered with evasions and lies.

Christie also boasted about his nefarious deeds to other inmates, comparing himself to the infamous John George Haigh, the acid-bath killer who also had murdered six women.  Christie claimed that his goal had been twelve.

Once confronted with evidence, he quickly admitted to killing his first two victims, but resisted the idea that he had killed the Evans mother and child.  Then he claimed that he did indeed murder Beryl Evans, but not her child.  Beryl's was a mercy killing, similar to his wife.  She had tried to kill herself with gas and when Christie rescued her (according to him), she begged him to help her do it.  The next day he gassed and then strangled her.  (He could not have done this since holding the gas close to her would have affected him as well.  None of his details about rescuing her and then assisting her were supported by medical fact.)  Christie claimed that Beryl offered him sex in exchange for his assistance and he tried but failed to perform.

He later said to a chaplain that he did not think he had murdered Beryl, but had gotten the impression from his attorney that for an insanity defense it would be better for him to admit to as many murders as possible.

When asked about the pubic hair collection, he said that one clump was Beryl's.  Her body was exhumed for comparison, but it was evident that no hair had been cut from her.   To whom this hair belonged remained a mystery, as Christie could not (or would not) recall.

He stood trial at the Old Bailey on June 22nd, 1953 on the charge of murdering his wife.  It was the same court where Evans had been tried.  The presiding judge was Justice Finnemore and the prosecutor attorney general Sir Lionel Heald.  Derek Curtis-Bennett defended Christie, who pleaded Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.

All of the murders were brought in by the defense to prove how insane he must have been.  His own attorney called him a maniac and madman.  Dr. Jack Abbott Hobson, a psychiatrist for the defense, concurred.  He said Christie was a severe hysteric who may have known what he was doing at the time of each murder, but did not appreciate that it was wrong.  He suffered a defect of reason that prevented him from fully appreciating the criminality and immorality of his act.

The prosecution had two distinguished professionals for rebuttal, Dr. Matheson and Dr. Desmond Curran.  Matheson agreed that Christie had a hysterical personality, but that was a neurosis, not a defect of reason.  To his mind, Christie was not insane. Curran found Christie to be an inadequate personality with hysterical features, and similarly detected no defect of reason.

Heald presented to the jury the account given by Christie of the murder of his own wife.  He indicated that the things that Christie did to avoid detection were indicative of knowledge of wrongdoing.

Christie himself took the stand and seemed to observers to be quite agitated.  He pulled at his ear, clasped and unclasped his hands, rubbed his head, stroked his cheek, and pulled at his collar.  He offered a murder-by-murder description, although many of his replies to his counsel's questions were nearly inaudible.  When asked why, in his lengthy confession to police, he had neglected to mention Beryl Evans, he said that he had forgotten that one.  Despite having been put through giving evidence at a trial only four years earlier, it had "gone clean out" of his mind.

The prosecutor's closing argument insisted that Christie's murders would need to be compulsive to be considered insane; that is, he would have committed them even in the presence of a police officer.  Christie had admitted that it was unlikely he would have done any such thing.  In fact, his actions after his wife's death showed quite clearly that he knew that what he had done was wrong and that he had to hide it from people.  His logic showed sanity and appreciation of the wrongfulness of his deed.

Curtiss-Bennett asked the jury to consider how abominable were this man's actions and how utterly revelatory of madness: a man who had intercourse with dying or dead women; a man who kept a collection of pubic hairs; a man living, eating, sleeping with those bodies nearby; how could he be sane?

The judge did not think that this was an adequate test of insanity.  He instructed the jury to consider all of the evidence and testimony when they decided whether Christie was insane when he killed his wife.  That was the only issue at hand.  The fact that he was a sexual pervert did not make him insane, nor did the fact that he acted like a monster.

The trial lasted only four days, and the jury deliberated only an hour and twenty minutes.  Their verdict: Guilty.  He was sentenced to death.

Christie did not appeal and there appeared to be no medical grounds for reprieve. He was hanged at Pentonville Prison on July 15th, 1953.

Yet that was not the end of the case.

*Note: Kennedy reverses the order of the deaths of Kathleen Maloney and Rita Nelson, probably because Christie's confession mixed them up.  Although different authors offer different descriptions of what happened, it seems difficult to know for sure, since Christie certainly lied about how he met and killed these women.  He also gave several conflicting statements.  What seems without doubt is that Rita Nelson was first in the cupboard and that Christie says that both women accosted him.


Questions Arise

After Christie's trial was over, two inquires were held and two Parliamentary debates undertaken to attempt to resolve whether Timothy Evans had been sent to the gallows an innocent man.  It seemed incomprehensible that two men living in the same house had both been stranglers.  Evans had accused Christie of his wife's murder, after all, and Christie had even confessed, although he had not confessed to killing the Evans baby.  For all anyone knew, Evans could still have been guilty of this, and that was the crime for which he was tried.

John Scott Henderson, the Recorder of Portsmouth, was assigned to look into the case to decide whether justice had been done.  He was given only eleven days to review all the documents in both cases.

After intensive investigation, Henderson determined that Evans had indeed strangled his own wife and baby.  His report was published on the same day that Christie was hanged, and a debate followed.  Many people doubted what he had to say and more than a few wrote books and articles to that effect.

Among those were the editors of the National English Review, F. Tennyson Jesse who wrote Trials of Evans and Christie, and the psychiatrist hired in Christie's defense.

Two years later, a delegation of four men, all press editors, approached the Home Secretary to request another inquiry.  They believed that Evans was innocent and had his rights.  Those rights, they claimed, had been violated.

F. Tennyson Jesse wrote up the case for publication in 1957, believing that Evans was innocent, although he tried to be as fair as possible to those who had handled the case.  Ludovic Kennedy concurred on Evans in Ten Rillington Place, published in 1961.  Kennedy goes to great lengths to show how poorly the Henderson investigation was carried out.  Christie was questioned, but apparently coached to avoid the subject of Geraldine's death. 

The suggestion is that the police officers involved in the Evans arrest and confession wanted Christie to cover for them.  Kennedy's implication is that Henderson was no independent investigator but simply a mouthpiece for the official version-that justice had not miscarried. 

Bernard Gillis, who represented the interests of Evans' mother, was barred from participation until the last minute and then not allowed to ask his most probing questions.  This report is printed in full in Kennedy and Jesse's books, and Kennedy makes telling comments throughout.

To him, the primary question was whether or not there was sexual penetration of Mrs. Evans after death.  Evans himself would not have done so but Christie would surely have been so perverse.  Kennedy thought this was suggested in a brief to Evans' counsel from Freeborough, Slack & Company. 

Kennedy also believes the police interrogation went on much longer than admitted by the police, which indicates the possibility of forced false confession from a mentally-impaired man.  He also claims that from the evidence that Christie apparently offered medical services to other women for the purpose of luring them into his control indicates a pattern into which Beryl Evans' death fits.  He offers a list of points in common among the murders.

These two books helped to form what has been called the Standard Version of the case, in which police bungled their jobs and an innocent man was hanged.  Evans, they felt, was under Christie's dominance.  Christie said he would abort Beryl as a cover for what he really wanted to do, which was to strangle and rape her.  She agreed to allow him to "help" her and he went to her flat, gassed her, and then had his way.  When Tim found his wife dead that night, Christie persuaded him against going to the police.  Two days later, Christie strangled the baby. 

He urged Evans to sell his furniture and leave the place.  Evans did, but then went to the police.  They brainwashed him and beat him until he made a false confession.  That made him so confused that he made a poor showing at his trial.  It made little sense that by sheer coincidence he would accuse the one man who in fact was killing women in this way. 

Had the two skeletons in the garden been unearthed before Evans' trial, things would have turned out quite differently.  It was also a fact that Christie had told numerous lies throughout his trial, such as, the date of his back pain and claiming that he did not know the furniture dealer.

Everyone criticized the fact that the Henderson inquiry had been closed and rushed.  That alone made it suspect, especially in view of the fact that certain documents were refused to the counsel hired by Mrs. Probert.  It was also clear that he had failed to really address Christie's new admission or those facts that were in Evans' favor.  Nevertheless, a second inquiry was refused. 

Henderson issued a supplementary report defending why he did and did not do certain things about which he was criticized.  Jesse includes this in full in his book.  A second debate took place in the House of Commons in 1953, which pointed out that Henderson still had given no weight to the facts that support Evans' innocence.  Still, another inquiry was denied.

 John Eddowes refuted the Standard Version of the crimes in The Two Killers of Rillington Place.  His own father had written a book, The Man on Your Conscience, supporting Evans' innocence, but Eddowes believed his father was suffering from a mental illness and was incapable of contributing anything meaningful to the case.  Eddowes believed that, in fact, two murderers lived at Ten Rillington Place at the same time.  Evans, he believed, killed both his wife and child.  He points out that the chief pathologists of the time, as well as the medical examiner, who interviewed both men, concluded that the evidence supports Evans as a double-murderer.

In an inquiry conducted in 1965, the conclusion from the pathologist was that Evans had strangled his wife but not his daughter.  It was Christie who did that and then convinced Evans not to go to the police.  High Court Judge, Sir Daniel Brabin, then granted a posthumous pardon to Evans in 1966, which did not declare him innocent, but only innocent of the charge on which he was tried-killing his daughter.

It is unlikely that the case will ever be fully resolved.


Bibliography

  • Eddowes, John; The Two Killers of Rillington Place;  New York: Little, Brown, & Co., 1994; Warner, 1995.

  • Everitt, David;  Human Monsters;  New York: Contemporary Books, 1993.

  • Jesse, F. Tennyson, ed.,  Trials of Timothy John Evans and John Reginald Halliday Christie.  London: William Hodge & Company, LTD., 1957.

  • Kennedy, Ludovic; Ten Rillington Place;  New York: Simon & Schuster, 1961.  (A film by the same name and based on this book was made in 1970, directed by Richard Fleischer, and starring Richard Attenborough and John Hurt.)

  • Lane, Brian and Wilfred Gregg, The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers.  New York: Berkley, 1995.

  • LeFebure, Molly; Murder with a Difference.   London: Heinemann, 1958.

CrimeLibrary.com


John Reginald Christie

Motive: The motive is uncertain. It is possible there was no motive. Christie pleaded insanity as a defence. However, the motive could also have been sex. It is theorised that he killed his wife so that he would be alone in the house to entertain and kill prostitutes.

Crimes:

Date

Victim

Crime

Body found

1943

Ruth Fuerst

Murder

In the garden

1944

Muriel Eady

Murder

In the garden

14/12/52

Ethel Christie

Murder

Under the floorboards of the front room

2/1/53

Rita Nelson

Murder

At the back of the kitchen cupboard

1953

Kathleen Maloney

Murder

In the middle of the kitchen cupboard

1953

Hectorina Maclennan

Murder

At the front of the kitchen cupboard

There is speculation as to whether there were two more victims. The bodies of Beryl Evans and her baby were also found in 10, Rillington Place, (London) Christie's house, in the wash-house. They had been killed in November 1949. However, her husband Timothy Evans admitted to the crime and was hanged for it. He did at various times, though, say that Christie was the murderer.

Method: The victims were first rendered unconscious using carbon monoxide gas. They were then strangled whilst Christie had sex with them.

Sentence: Christie was found guilty of the murder of his wife and was sentenced to death. He was hanged on 15th July 1953.

Interesting facts: The kitchen cupboard was naturally maintained at a temperature of 5 degrees fahrenheit, giving the effect of a fridge. When the three bodies in there were found, they had been perfectly preserved.

During a police search of 10, Rillington Place, a tobacco tin containing four locks of pubic hair was found. The hair did not match any of the bodies in the cupboard. It is possible two of the locks belonged to the two women buried in the garden, but this is unknown. They could also have been mementos of prostitutes he had been in the habit of photographing.

Christie's first story of what happened to the victims was different to what forensic evidence tells us is the truth. Christie explained that they came and pestered him for sex. They then started a fight, and he accidentally killed them, or they fell and hit their heads. After the post mortem showed they had been gassed, he changed his story.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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