John Reginald Halliday Christie
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Trial and execution
The next day he was charged with his wife's
murder. On April 15, he was charged with murdering the three
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
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.
Number 10 Rillington Place
by Katherine Ramsland
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
afterward that Christie began inviting women to his own home.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
November, the disaster occurred.
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.)
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.
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.
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.)
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
there for six days. During that time, he began to wonder what had
become of his daughter.
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
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.
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.
upstairs to his wife, who told him that she trusted Christie and
intended to allow him to do it.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
held power over Evans, Christie persuaded the man to sell his
furniture and prepare to leave town. Evans complied.
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.
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.
these versions is true depends on how one interprets the facts.
There are problems with both and little direct evidence for either.
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
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."
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the package out further and untied the cord. A pair of feet slipped
out, revealing the decaying corpse of Beryl Evans.
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
Teare, the Home Office pathologist, arrived to examine the bodies.
He then took them to Kensington Mortuary.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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
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.
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.
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.
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
whole affair was finally decided in court.
The Trial of
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.
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.)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
move was to try to bar any testimony about Beryl Evans' murder, but
the judge allowed it. That meant Morris had to work hard.
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.
Dr. Teare and Reginald Christie, but did not call the carpenters,
and since the defense knew nothing about them, these men never
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
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.
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
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
began to sprinkle his house and garden with a strong disinfectant,
and people noticed the odor.
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.
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.
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.
himself was on the move. He did not wish to be around when certain
discoveries were made.
Discovery at Rillington
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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's First Victim
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.
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.
disappearance was reported to the police on September 1st, but her
whereabouts remained a mystery.
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
later, Ethel went visiting to Sheffield once again and Christie met
Christie's Dark Addiction
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
lasted only four days, and the jury deliberated only an hour and
twenty minutes. Their verdict: Guilty. He was sentenced to death.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 &
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
unlikely that the case will ever be fully resolved.
John; The Two Killers of Rillington Place; New York: Little, Brown,
& Co., 1994; Warner, 1995.
David; Human Monsters; New York: Contemporary Books, 1993.
Tennyson, ed., Trials of Timothy John Evans and John Reginald
Halliday Christie. London: William Hodge & Company, LTD., 1957.
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
and Wilfred Gregg, The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers. New York:
Molly; Murder with a Difference. London: Heinemann, 1958.
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.