Justice catches up
Justice catches up
“I was working in my office in the middle of Sheffield and received a call to say that some bodies had been found in a house by workmen who had returned to remove a marquee following a wedding function.”
-Mick Burdis, Detective Chief Inspector, South Yorkshire Police
The marquee workmen had arrived to dismantle and pack up. Instead, they find a young woman in a state of near total psychological collapse and evidence of a bloodbath:
“...when eventually we did find the three bodies they had suffered very, very severe and very savage injuries.”
The father’s body is found by the stairs. Upstairs, they find the body of his wife by the side of the bed. Their son is nearby.
On one of the beds, the forensics team find a bloodstain that looks like it has seeped through the criss-cross of a bandage.
Alongside the forensic investigation, the police use the relatively new technology of videoing to capture the scene.
But the list of potential suspects is huge:
“We had about four hundred people connected with the actual wedding...And the people involved in catering and in photography and all the rest of the trappings that go on with weddings. So we had very, very rapidly developed an enormous enquiry.”
News of the wedding killings spread quickly: The fact that the man responsible isn’t known spreads fear. An incident room is set up in the village hall. Forensic officers expand their search in the hope of finding anything that might indicate the killer.
The only surviving witness is in severe shock. But as the only eyewitness, her description of the killer is crucial. Vic Brough, an artist, is brought in to get a likeness of the killer:
“She was really traumatised. Sometimes you have to switch off...And I just got my head into the drawing. And that was it. I just did it.”
The portrait he draws shows a man with curly hair and a slightly bent nose.
The woman also adds that the killer drunk and ate from the leftover food.
From the bed, the police have the killer’s blood. Now from the champagne bottle, they have a print. And from the cheese, they have a bite mark.
But without a computerised database, such forensic evidence is only useful to secure a conviction.
The police still needed a suspect with which to match the forensics.
Then a police colleague from North Yorkshire rings Mick Burdis to say he thinks they’re looking for the same man. The detective says a rapist in Selby had escaped while attending court. The man’s name: Arthur Hutchinson.
Hutchinson’s mug shot matches the artist’s impression.
The police now have detailed knowledge of who they were after.
But knowing who he is doesn’t mean they’re any closer to knowing where he is.
“We’d now got a man who’d been on the run for a few weeks. We’d no idea where his connections were and his locations were.
And where he was hiding.”
So the police take the unusual step of releasing Hutchinson’s picture:
“It was almost like the Wild West. You had the police issuing a photograph of Hutchinson...stressing how dangerous he was...Suddenly he was catapulted from being a small time petty crook to being the most wanted man in England.”
-Alan Whitehouse, Reporter Yorkshire Post
BRITAIN’S MOST WANTED
BRITAIN’S MOST WANTED
But becoming public enemy number one doesn’t scare Hutchinson. He loves the attention. But the realisation that a sadistic killer and serial rapist is at liberty creates a siege mentality in some communities:
“The fear spread like a ripple.... You saw women afraid to go out by themselves. Changing their routines, changing their habits. Having boyfriends and husbands pick them up from work. Exactly as happened during the hunt for Peter Sutcliffe.”
South Yorkshire Detectives believe Hutchinson’s bolted from their area. Now every policeman is on the lookout.
“I, THE FOX...”
In case Hutchinson doubles back and seeks refuge in the woods near the housing estate where he grew up, Cleveland’s Detective Chief Inspector Dick Copeman sets up surveillance.
Copeman and his colleagues have caught Hutchinson the petty criminal many times before. But now they’re trying to catch a killer. And as Copeman knows, Hutchinson is more than capable of fending for himself:
“He always had this thing about survival training, hiding himself out in the countryside.”
In fact, being a keen allotment user in the past, Hutchinson takes to stealing other people’s produce from their plots and gardens rather than fending for himself off the land. And rather than sleep rough, he uses disguises, and stays at pubs and guesthouses.
The public are asked to ring in if they suspect anything or come across any hideouts. The hunt is on.
But instead of keeping a low profile, Hutchinson goads the police by writing a letter to the press. Hutchinson denies the allegations against him and tells the media to stop reporting on the hunt through the countryside for him.
In it, he also starts referring to himself as, ‘I, The Fox...’
“This nickname that he gave himself, ‘The Fox’...For someone to give themselves a nickname, that’s just so unusual...this is clearly important to him. This aura, this identity that he’s building around himself...you were dealing with...somebody who perhaps wasn’t entirely in touch with the real world.”
The letter is sent to behavioural psychologist Diane Simpson. She has extensive experience of analysing the writings of some of Britain’s most dangerous killers. Simpson suggests that the force with which he presses the pen into the paper shows he clearly loves the attention:
“This was a letter constructed to parade himself...This is someone totally focused on what he wants to do...with no thought of repercussions. Only focused on what he wants to do. Like a missile.”
And then Hutchinson rings the newsdesk of the Yorkshire Post and speaks to a reporter. Hutchinson says he’s able to come and go at will and had been in and out of Doncaster four times.
Hutchinson is building on his self-image of being untouchable, almost invisible.
“I sleep by day and I travel at night. So I’m not going to give myself up.”
Hutchinson thinks the police are no closer to catching him. They are, in fact, laying the perfect trap for ‘The Fox’.
First, they play on Hutchinson’s fears that the knee injury he’d sustained in his escape could be serious:
“During one of the broadcasts that we gave to the media we indicated that this injury to his leg may well be tingling, may well be causing him trouble, and it could well become gangrenous. And then he could lose the limb and probably die."
Second, they play on Hutchinson’s attachment to his mother:
“He did seem to gravitate back towards his mothers whenever he was in trouble.”
Dick Copeman, Detective Chief Inspector
And now Hutchinson is in real trouble.
The police tap his mother’s phone.
At 4 o’clock in the morning, the police listen to him saying he’s coming home.
The fox had gone for the bait. Now 400 police officers close in.