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British serial killer John Christie murdered at least six women, including his wife, before being arrested and hanged in 1953.
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He had, in fact, strangled Ethel, and placed her body under the floorboards in the parlor. Christie also began treating the house with strong disinfectants, when neighbors remarked on the increasingly bad odors that were coming from the Christie house.
Christie's next victim was 25-year-old Rita Nelson, a pregnant prostitute who was persuaded by Christie that he could assist her with a termination, and who suffered the same fate as Beryl Evans on January 19,
1953. Her body was placed in an alcove that existed behind a cupboard in the kitchen.
26-year-old Kathleen Maloney, another prostitute, was gassed, strangled and raped in February 1953. She joined Nelson, in the alcove behind the cupboard, the next morning.
Christie's final victim, 26-year-old Hectorina McLennan, was similarly gassed, strangled and raped, then also stashed in the alcove. Christie then papered over the cupboard that concealed the alcove, but could do very little about the increasingly bad odor coming from the three decomposing bodies. He finally moved out of Rillington Place on March 20,1953, defrauding the family who took up residency. He took three months rent money from them, when he was not authorized by the landlord, and they were forced to move out within 24 hours.
With the flat now empty, another Rillington Place tenant was permitted by the landlord to use the kitchen and, when he was renovating the space, he discovered the concealed cupboard and the bodies, and immediately notified the police. Given the previous murders that had been committed there, a thorough search was initiated, which revealed not only the three kitchen cupboard corpses, but also Ethel's body under the parlor floorboards, and two further bodies in the garden.
The hunt for Christie began, and he was apprehended ten days later, on March 31,1953, having run out of money. He made statements about four of the murders willingly, but had explanations for all. His wife's had been a mercy killing, she had been choking to death anyway when he strangled her; and the three prostitutes had been aggressive and taken advantage of him, driving him to defend himself. His confessions were riddled with lies and evasions. When confronted with the evidence of the garden corpses, he admitted those murders too and, at one point, also admitted to the murder of Beryl Evans, although he described it again as a mercy killing.
His trial at Old Bailey commenced on June 22, 1953, on the charge of murdering his wife. Christie's defence counsel decided to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, and all the murders were brought in to support the insanity plea. The prosecution countered that his concealment of the crimes after the fact showed an appreciation of the wrongfulness of his acts, and the judge instructed the jury to consider only whether he was insane at the time at which he had killed his wife, which was the charge under consideration.
The trial lasted only four days, and the jury returned a verdict of guilty, after deliberating for only an hour and 20 minutes.
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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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