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14 unusual facts about Joanna Dennehy

Joanna Dennehy sitting in a chair holding a very large knife
Image Credit: Geoffrey Robinson / Alamy Stock Photo | Background image:

Over the course of ten days in March 2013, Joanna Dennehy murdered three men, Lukasz Slaboszewski, Kevin Lee and John Chapman, and dumped their bodies in ditches around Peterborough. The men had been her friends, lovers and, in Lee’s case, her landlord.

She claimed she wanted to be like Bonnie and Clyde and went on to stab two more men before she was caught, both of whom were picked at random while walking their dogs and luckily, survived.

She has become one of the UK’s most notorious serial killers and imprisoned women, but her case only gets weirder after the crimes were committed.

These are some of the strangest facts about the Peterborough ditch murders and Joanna Dennehy.

1. She had male accomplices

For someone who specifically targeted men, stating she didn’t want to kill a woman, especially one with children, she still chose men to be accomplices in her crimes. One of whom, Gary Richards, was a failed career burglar who was 7 ft 3 and aptly called ‘Stretch’.

2. She was diagnosed with paraphilia sadomasochism

Dennehy was diagnosed by a prison psychiatrist as having paraphilia sadomasochism: the need to inflict and receive pain and humiliation during sex. She didn’t keep her sexual predilections a secret and even wore handcuffs attached to her trousers.

3. She quoted Britney Spears after a murder

She said she found murder fun and ‘moreish’. After killing one of her victims, John Chapman, who lived in the same bedsit as her, Dennehy rang up Richards and sang ‘Oops I Did It Again’ down the line.

4. She dressed one victim

Dennehy’s third victim, Kevin Lee, was her landlord and lover. After she stabbed him in the chest, she dressed his body in a black sequin dress and then placed him in a sexual pose.

5. Her victim’s unique description of her

At Dennehy’s trial, the court heard that Lee had told his wife about his affair with Dennehy and described her as a mix between Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill, Sarah Conner in The Terminator and Alanis Morissette.

6. She stole a victim’s dog

Her last two victims, Robin Bereza and John Rogers, were both chosen at random and stabbed while they were walking their dogs. Both men survived, but Dennehy stole Rogers’ dog, who was found in her possession when she was arrested. She didn’t ask the police about the fate of either of the men, but was concerned about Archie, the dog.

7. She was thrilled by the news reports

Far from being concerned about the murders making the news, Dennehy’s friend, Georgina Page, later testified that Dennehy ‘danced like a schoolgirl’ after seeing a Teletext article on the crimes.

8. She flirted with arresting officers

She laughed. She smiled. She described murders and attempted murders like ‘going down for a Sunday roast’.

9. She received a ‘whole life’ sentence

Making her one of only three women in the UK to receive such a sentence. The other two are Rosemary West and Myra Hindley. Dennehy responded to the news by laughing during sentencing.

10. She wrote to Richardson’s ex-wife

It was a six-page letter in which she claimed she never forced him to do anything and that she hadn’t murdered John Chapman at all. That crime, she alleged, was committed by her other accomplice, Leslie Layton, in an attempt to impress her.

11. She targeted Rose West

Within minutes of arriving at Low Newton Prison, she threatened to murder Rose West as part of a power play. West was moved to another prison the next day.

12. She planned a prison break

This plan involved murdering a guard and severing their fingers, in order to open the biometric doors. Dennehy was caught before she could attempt it.

13. She sued the government

Her claim: her human rights had been violated. Needless to say, she lost.

14. She still managed to find love behind bars

Not only did she start a pen-pal romance with a man who later told The Sun of his intentions to marry Dennehy (the pair allegedly traded photos and tales of their dogs: his a Staffie called Chunk; hers a German shepherd called Hitler) in 2018, she launched a bid to marry Hayley Palmer, who was in prison on a 16-year sentence for street robbery.

As with many love stories, the pair had an agreement Dennehy couldn’t murder anyone else while they were together. Dennehy later fell in love with another fellow prisoner, Emma Aitken. Police also found out she had been exchanging graphic love letters with a senior male prison officer.