Archive for July 15

15 July 1953 – John Christie

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , , on July 15 by Old Sparky
John Christie

John Christie

Holing dead bodies up behind walls gives great acoustics apparently. However, we’re pretty certain sound quality was the last thing on John Reginald Halliday Christie’s mind when the killer stashed his victims in hidden cubby holes around his house.

It was a case of needs must – well he had to hide them somewhere. So let us take you on a tour of the temporary but grisly graveyards of the key females caught up in Christie’s callous crimes.

The infamous 10 Rillington Place1, in the now fashionable Ladbroke Grove, interred the bodies of seven women and one child, including the wife of the murderer. But how did Christie get to this low point?

Also known as Reggie, he apparently grew up an abused child, with a brutal father and overbearing sisters, but the real turning point was allegedly when his grandfather died and the young boy saw him lying in state – a man who had ironically scared the life out of Christie. This was where his fascination with dead bodies is said to have developed.

Couple this with the fact that he was unpopular at school and the build-up to his aggression becomes easy to chart. After all, this was a boy who was teased for his inability to get it up – jibes such as ‘Reggie-no-dick’ were to haunt his adolescence.

Fuerst things first

So, it came as no surprise to find that his later crimes were sexually motivated. We say ‘later’, because he was an old hand at breaking the law, with at least four sentences for theft or assault under his belt.

BY the time he moved into the flat at Rillington Place at the end of 1938, he was married to Ethel Waddington. Things ticked along for a while until August 1943, when he took advantage of his wife’s absence to strangle his bit on the side, 24-year-old Ruth Fuerst, on the spur of the moment, while they were in the throes of sex.

Apparently in his confession, Christie said ‘I left her there in the bedroom. After that I believe I had a cup of tea and went to bed’. That gave him a taste for sadistic sex and it was to become a theme throughout his criminal career.

Boned

The second was in 1944 – a neighbour, who was convinced he was a doctor. He didn’t persuade her otherwise and the 32-year-old was gullible enough to listen when he told her to inhale some gas scented with friars’ balsam. The carbon monoxide rendered her virtually unconscious enabling Christie to have his way with her. As with Fuerst, he strangled her either before or during the rape.

You may be wondering what he did with these two bodies…he buried them both in the garden and in one report he may even have used one of their leg bones to support fencing.

All seemed to go quiet for a while, until a young family moved in upstairs in 1949 – Mr and Mrs Timothy Evans. They had a child called Geraldine, who was around a year old when the couple found out they were expecting another. This was not good news – Evans had a low IQ and couldn’t get well-paid work as a result. They could barely afford to look after one child let alone two.

Well, Christie offered to come to the rescue in his own inimitable way. He blagged that he knew someone who was a back-street abortionist. And while that was being sorted, they tried all kinds of weird ways to try to spark a miscarriage.

But Christie was really biding his time and eventually, he pounced and like the others, he rendered Beryl Evans senseless, and followed this up with the same strangled rape session.

His audacity knew no bounds – Christie even offered to help the heartbroken Evans by offering to find a home for young Geraldine. But the child didn’t make it out of the house alive (although Christie never admitted to her murder).

Evans was to hand himself in for the crime, though he had no part in it, and guess who got to be key witness against Evans in the ensuing murder trial? Yep, Christie himself – the clandestine killer gave the Oscar performance of a lifetime, perjuring himself up to his privates.

TLC Christie-style

So he managed to escape and no-one suspected a thing, leaving him free to indulge his strangulation fixation. And his wife was next in line for his hands-on experience. Apparently, in Christie’s confession to the police once he was caught, he said that Ethel Christie had necked a bottle of sleeping pills and was having a febrile fit – he was allegedly so cut up to see her in so much distress that he grabbed one of her stockings and secured it around her neck to help ‘put her to sleep’.

Christie went on to admit that he left her there for three days while he worked out what he was going to do with her – after all, he was running out of places to put the mounting body count. But as luck would have it, he remembered the loose floorboards in the living room – and so much cheaper than an undertaker.

This was the tail-end of 1952 – exactly 14 years since the couple had first moved in, but 1953 was to prove yet more gruesome still. Just a month after Ethel, he was at it again, this time with a prostitute by the name of Rita Nelson, who was actually up the duff. She was followed by Kathleen Maloney and Hectorina Mclellan, all of whom were stashed in a secret cavity in the kitchen.

At that point, Christie mysteriously moved out of Rillington Place and it was taken over by another couple who amazingly couldn’t bear the stench of putrid flesh. The odour was emanating from the kitchen and the new tenants did some digging and found the hidey hole, along with some unexpected occupants.

Once the police were called, the burial sites were exposed and soon after, Christie was found just 11 days later – sleeping rough. The serial killer was charged with murder and in jail he admitted to bumping them all off, together with Beryl Evans, but never Geraldine – some say the killer had blocked the child’s murder out, because even he could not face the guilt.

He was tried in 1953 in the very same court that had convicted Timothy Evans and was found guilty of multiple murders. Just short of three weeks after Christie had been sentenced, Albert Pierrepoint was given the job of dispatching him, so Christie was hanged at Pentonville Prison on this day in 1953, aged 54.

Richard Attenborough puts in a spectacularly spooky turn as Christie in the 1970 film ’10 Rillington Place’, John Hurt co-stars as Tim.

Now you can find out if you’re John Christie with the Execution of the Day “Are you a serial killer?” questionnaire.

1 Interestingly, Rillington Place no longer exists. Many reputable sources, including the Beeb surprisingly and incorrectly site the former Rillington Place where Ruston Mews is now, but this is not true. The Association made up of inhabitants living on the private road have gone to great pains to set the record straight.

The former residents of Rillington Place did indeed ask for the road to be renamed due to the stigma of having had a mass murderer in their midst – and it duly became Ruston Close, which did for a time.

However, the road was eventually levelled and it made way for a new development by the name of St Andrews Square, as well as Bartle Road.

Also on this day

15 July 1685 – James Scott, Duke of Monmouth
15 July 1936 – Charlotte Bryant

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