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Dennis Nilsen is best known as the English murderer of many young men in the late 1970's and early 80's.
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Dennis Nilsen was born November 23, 1945 in Fraserburgh, Scotland. Though Nilsen recognized his homosexual desires, he was never comfortable with them and began acting on them through murder and dismemberment. Nilsen's first victim was in 1978, he went on to kill, upon his confession, twelve young men and dissect their bodies.
Dennis Nilsen killed, defiled and dismembered 15 young men between December 1978 and February 1983, practically under the noses of his neighbors. When police finally arrested him in 1983, it quickly became apparent that, had they linked a series of reported incidents from lucky escapees over the previous five years, they might well have halted his ghoulish killing spree considerably sooner.
Dennis Nilsen was born on November 23,1945 in Fraserburgh, Scotland. His parents' marriage was an unhappy one and, as a result he lived (along with his mother and siblings) with his maternal grandfather, whom Nilsen adored. Nilsen claimed that his beloved grandfather's unexpected death, when he was just six years old, and the traumatizing viewing of his corpse at the funeral, led to his later behavioral psychopathology.
His mother went on to remarry and have four more children, leaving Nilsen a withdrawn and lonely child. Aware of his homosexual attractions, he claimed no sexual encounters as an adolescent, and at 16 he enlisted in the army. He became a cook, serving as a butcher in the Army Catering Corps, learning the skills that served him so well during his five-year killing spree.
Upon leaving the army in 1972 he took up police training, where he discovered a fascination with morgue visits and autopsied bodies. Despite the obvious advantages that police work gave to develop his morbid tastes, he resigned and went on to become a recruitment interviewer.
Nilsen's first official brush with the police came in 1973. David Painter, a young man whom Nilsen had met through his work, claimed that Nilsen had taken pictures of him while he was asleep. Painter was so incensed that he required hospitalization as a result of their confrontation. Nilsen was brought in for questioning about the incident, but was subsequently released without charge.
In 1975, he took up cohabitation with David Gallichan in a garden apartment situated at 195 Melrose Avenue, in North London, although Gallichan denied that they had a homosexual relationship This lasted two years and, when Gallichan left, Nilsen's life began a downward spiral into alcohol and loneliness, that culminated in the first murder 18 months later.
Nilsen became increasingly disturbed by his sexual encounters, which only seemed to reinforce his loneliness when they were over. He met his first young victim in a pub on December 29, 1978, and invited him home, as he had on previous occasions.
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Many of the most horrifying acts of violence are committed by serial killers. Always looking for next victim, these murderers kill again and again, never fully satisfied by their bloody deeds. Their twisted motivations—and even more twisted techniques—land the people in this group among the most frightening criminals in history.
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