"Jebson is the classic example of the kind of predatory paedophile who will abduct and murder a child who is not known to him. He is effectively every parent’s worst nightmare.”
David Wilson, Criminologist
Ron Jebson was born Ronald Harper in 1938. He was illegitimate and so when he was adopted, his surname changed to that of his new family, Jebson. The Jebson’s lived in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.
Ronald was seen as being ‘a bit odd’ as a child and, as a result, had a quite lonely childhood. One of his few friends was Robert Papper.
Robert would come to bitterly regret ever meeting his school mate.
Unknown to Robert, in the mid 1950s Ronald Jebson became a child abuser. Jebson indecently assaulted a four-year-old:
“...from age fifteen, he’s convicted of indecent exposure, then indecent assault, then sexual assault. So gradually, throughout his teens, throughout his twenties and thirties...the sexual offending that he engages in becomes more and more severe, which is typical of the pattern of predatory paedophiles.”
THE MAN WITH MANY NAMES
Ronald Jebson was twice rejected by the army. After successfully joining, he was then discharged in 1958. He became a drifter, a drug addict and an alcoholic. He changed his name as often as his address:
“So sometimes he’ll use the name Ronald Jebson, other times he’ll use his birth name...Harper; on other occasions he will use a pseudonym, Alan Purchase.
Is he married? Is he Christian, is he Jewish? He constantly plays with his identity, as a way, deliberately I think, of covering his tracks...”
In 1968 he was jailed for two years for indecently assaulting a six-year-old girl.
He told a prison psychiatrist that he was evil and was afraid of himself.
“I was a prison governor...until the late 1980s...(With) convicted paedophiles...we did absolutely nothing to overcome their sexual offending history...they were almost walking time-bombs.
As soon as they were released from prison in the Sixties and Seventies, they were almost guaranteed to offend again...”
PREDATORY, AND FREE
It’s 2 March 1970. Ronald Jebson has just been released from Wandsworth prison.
He is a 31-year-old predatory paedophile.
He is not yet a killer.
He moves to Enfield but catches up with and soon moves in with an old school friend from Hatfield, Robert Papper. Robert lives with his wife Maureen and their four children. The Papper’s have little way of knowing they’ve let a monster through their door.
On 31 March 1970, Jebson goes to the job centre in Enfield. He then drives around the area. He sights Gary and Susan playing. He stops and talks to them.
He employs his usual technique. It works.
He persuades Susan and Gary to go into the woods. The children, perhaps confident that each will look after the other, get in.
Jebson drives them to Epping Forest. He draws them in by offering them forbidden drink and exotic cannabis. Once the children are intoxicated, he sexually assaults Susan as he strangles her. He then starts on Gary.
The boy tries to resist. But Gary is small for his age. And he’s twenty years younger than his attacker. In just seconds, he’s overpowered.
Jebson finishes and strangles them both. He conceals their bodies in a hide he’d built earlier. He takes some of Susan’s clothing as trophies.
Four days later, Jebson is arrested.
But it’s for indecently assaulting an 11-year-old boy in woods near Nottingham.
He is sentenced to five years jail. He’s released after three.
Now a convicted paedophile, but with his double child murder unknown, Jebson goes back to stay with Maureen and Robert Papper in their Hatfield home. He conceals his criminal convictions from the couple and their children.
One of their children is called Rosemary:
“She was blonde, blue eyes – she was a stunner.”
Michaela Odwell, Rosemary’s best friend
Robert doesn’t suspect Jebson. As he’s never seen Jebson with a woman, he assumes he’s homosexual.
But Maureen grows uneasy. She says there’s something about him she just doesn’t trust.
When Jebson buys sweets and treats and tries to get close to their eight-year-old Rosemary, Maureen insists Jebson leaves.
Jebson doesn’t take it well. Even the neighbours remember his threat;
“I will do something you will regret.”
On the afternoon of 9 June 1974 Robert goes to collect his daughter from her primary school. He asks the teachers where Rosemary is. He’s told she’s been driven off by ‘Uncle Ron’.
Rosemary tries to resist Jebson’s sexual assaults. Despite threatening violence, she doesn’t give in. So he takes her a birdwatcher hide in some woods. He slaps and hits her trying to get her to acquiesce. She won’t. Because she’s not performing to the script in his head, Jebson finds himself impotent.
Humiliated, he fills with a murderous rage. He’s now able to rape her.
As he does so, he strangles her to death. He later admits he did not find the experience ‘satisfactory.’
“I am not getting pleasure. I am just using her as a waste bin.”
Ronald Jebson police interview about Rosemary killing
After she’s dead, he covers her body with straw.
It is virtually a carbon copy of Susan’s killing.
Not sated, Jebson sets off for Rosemary’s best friend, Michaela Odwell.
Jebson had befriended her father for just this reason. He turns up her at the family home claiming his car had broken down. Michaela’s father offers him the sofa for the night.
He had blood in the middle of his jumper, and my dad said,
‘What happened, Ron?’, and he went,
‘Oh, I cut myself’, so my mother put the jumper in to soak.”
The next day, eight-year-old Michaela is too ill to go to school. With her mother in the garden, Jebson attacks. But before the 35-year-old can finish her, her mother returns;
“He put 10p in my hand, and he said to me;
‘If you ever tell anyone what I’ve been doing up here, I will do exactly what I did to Rosemary. I strangled her. I punched her. I hit her, and I raped her. And I’d do the f******* same to you”
When Michaela’s father returns, Jebson leaves.
Just a few hours later, police arrest Jebson for Rosemary’s murder.
It will be many years before the petrified Michaela is able to repeat what Jebson did and said.
In 1974 at St Albans Crown Court, Mr Justice Kenneth Jones sentences Jebson to life and recommends he serve at least 20 years:
“The mind recoils from the horror and enmity of the offences committed.”
The judge makes it clear that he can find no mitigating factors.
There is nothing to either excuse or explain Jebson’s actions.
He is simply dangerous.