15 July 1953 – John Christie

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.


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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7 Responses to “15 July 1953 – John Christie”

  1. There is still a great deal of interest and speculation as to whether Timothy Evans was guilty or not guilty of killing his wife and child.

    People tend to read Ludovic Kennedy’s book ’10 Rillington Place’ or the film based on Kennedy’s book and believe that this is the true version of events that surrounded Christie and Evans. In fact the book ’10 Rillington Place” is mostly fiction based on Kennedy’s speculations about the case.
    If film goers and readers were to delve a little further into the murders they would quickly realize that there was a great deal of evidence to suggest that Evans was in fact guilty of the murders of his wife and child.

    I have always had the uneasy feeling that Evans did murder his wife Beryl and their baby, Geraldine.

    Timothy Evans has always been made out to be a slow and backward man, particularly by people who have fought the cause that he was an innocent man who was hoodwinked by Christie and wrongly hanged, but you must remember he was a working man, a lorry driver and he did do things that the normal working man would do, looking after his family, visiting pubs and the cinema; in other words he was able to function like any other working man despite his limitations.
    The main reason Evans was hanged was that he convinced the police he had firstly killed Beryl and then later admitted to killing his daughter.

    After the murders he left Rillington Place to go to Wales to his Aunt’s, it would have been a journey that would have taken five or six hours, which would have been ample time for him to think about the situation particularly with regards to Christie and his role in the proceedings. But what is the best he could come up with when walked into Methyr Vale police station? He confessed to killing his wife. He may have been a backward man but I don’t think he was that backward to admit to murder if he hadn’t in fact committed the murder.

    When he was later confronted by police back in London and for the first time told his child had also been found dead he didn’t cry out with grief like any other father would, he immediately admitted he had also killed her because ‘her crying got on my nerves’

    You’ve really got to ask the question: Why did Evans want to protect Christie and take the blame for Christie’s murderous deeds, the man who (supposedly, he claimed) had murdered his (Evans’) wife and child? I cannot think of one single solitary reason under God’s sun why he should do this.

    Why did Christie confess to killing Beryl? Christie pleaded insanity at his trial and with this plea it can be simply a case of ‘the more the merrier’, but he did not admit to killing baby Geraldine because although he enjoyed killing women, and freely admitted this, even he would not admit to stooping so low as to kill a helpless child.

    Did Christie know Evans had murdered his family? We’ll never know but it is likely that he did know of the murders and perhaps told Evans he would get rid of the bodies for him and advised him to get a way for a while.

    I read a book a short time ago by author John Eddowes entitled bluntly “The Two Killers Of Rillington Place”. Eddowes delves into great depths of the case and puts forward quite irrefutable evidence that Evans was in fact guilty of the murders. Unfortunately the book is out of print and has become very collectable with an original first edition selling for over £50.00 a copy. If you can get hold of a later edition I would certainly read it.

    The film ’10 Rillington Place didn’t always stick to the truth: It strongly intimated that Christie killed the baby; showing him, on hearing the baby’s cry picking up a man’s tie and having a look of evil intent in his eyes. In fact Christie never admitting to killing Geraldine and was never found guilty for that crime. Another scene shows Evans in a pub with of a group of men who were obviously laughing at him. This was a fictional scene only put in to emphasize that Evans was a tall story teller.

    Another fallacy that has built up over the years is that the police who conducted the case somehow coerced and bullied Evans into confessing to the murders. Why is it that neither Evans or his council never once complained about police procedure?

    It seems that one of the biggest arguments in Evans’ favour is that it would be nearly impossible to have two stranglers living in the same house. Too much of a coincidence? There have been bigger coincidences.

    John Hurt played the part of Evans in the film 10 Rillington place with great sympathy but it did not portray Evans for what he really was; a violent drunken wife-beater and murderer.

  2. I’m sorry but I have to disagree. John Eddowes is a bitter, angry man who who even alludes to his late, lawyer father, Michael, ( who had written an early book – the Man on Your Conscience – suggesting that Evans was innocent) being insane. His book puts far too much faith in the honesty of this country law-makers and police at that time and his theories are really off the map. In fact, in 2004, two high court judges made a declaration of Evans’ innocence.

  3. Absolutely rubbish to suggest Evans was infact guilty. You must read all the books and evidence. Had the court known at the time that their chief witness, Christie, was already himself a mass murderer trying to cover his own tacks, no jury would have convicted Evans. It’s interesting to theorise on other possibilities but anyone who knows all the facts of the case can be in no doubt Christie killed them all.

  4. pierre Says:

    I hope you understand French otherwise I would try in English (unfortunately mine is very bad)

    Quelles preuves existe-t-il de la culpabilité de Christie concernant l’affaire Evans ?
    Avez-vous lu le livre de Eddowes?

    Kind Regards

  5. Scott Fisher Says:

    I think in this case, that Evans killed his wife in a fit of temper and that Christie somehow found out, and it was agreed between the two men for Evans to go to Wales, Christie probably killed the child so the Police wouldn’t be sniffing around Rillington Place, I think Evans might even have been there when Christie killed the baby, perhaps fear for his own life made him go along with this, until his guilt caught up with him in Merthyr.

  6. Sorry but like many modern day conspiracy theorists Scott Fisher in his recent posting above is talking sensationalist rubbish. Timothy Evans was officially pardoned and anybody who still maintains his guilt is actually saying the pardon itself was infact a miscarriage of justice. Lets get real. The court at the time of the original trial were not in possession of the full facts i.e. Christie was already an established serial killer, yet he was allowed to give damning evidence against Evans. The “Evans is guilty” party is thankfully a tiny minority of generally ill informed readers. However, the voice of that minority is still deeply offensive to Evans surviving family and all of us who believe in true justice and morality.

  7. J howes Says:

    Timothy Evans was not guilty it was bad luck the couple arrived at Rillington
    Place. Timothy,s Wife according to the film was nearly saved and I was
    hoping that circumstances of events where a couple of minutes or so sooner
    and Christie could not have killed Timothys wife events happening around
    the war years masked his deeds

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