“In his own mind – he was doing them a favour”
David Holmes – Criminal Psychologist, Evil Up Close: The Nightstalker - Delroy Grant
Operation Minstead is set up in 1998 and is the largest and most controversial investigation that Britain has ever seen. DNA evidence found in 1992, matches with DNA evidence found at a crime in 1998, but disappointingly, no link is found on the DNA National Database.
In 2001 Detective Superintendent Simon Morgan takes charge. There are already 73 cases linked to the Nightstalker. Looking through the case notes he realises that the perpetrator has a distinctive method. From flattened grass found in the victims’ gardens, police can see that the Nightstalker is prepared to wait for hours until he knows for certain that the victim has gone to bed. He’ll attack by carefully and quietly removing the whole window in one piece to gain entry, moving any ornaments away from window sills to avoid making noise as he enters. He’ll then target the electricity supply, by switching it off at the mains. Once in the home he’ll cut telephone wires to ensure no-one can call for help, and unscrews light bulbs around the house. More recently, he’s adapted his technique to hide mobile phones above cupboards, which he knows the elderly will struggle to find. He’ll then make his way to his victim’s bedroom ensuring any light bulbs are unscrewed and panic alarms disabled. Shining a bright torch in his victims face he’ll demand sex. His face disguised by a black balaclava.
The brutality of his attacks on the elderly leaves the police with little to go on. Most are so traumatised; they are unable to recall any details. It’s left to behavioural profilers to help shed some light. They detect he must have worked with the elderly at some point, as he uses similar techniques when lifting and moving his victims. They also work out that he must work at night as his comings and goings aren’t arousing suspicion. In nearly every case the police are astounded at just how clean and tidy he is. It’s believed the person they’re hunting must have an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
In order to move forward with the case, the police decide to use a pioneering new technique called Ancestral DNA profiling. It proves the man they’re looking for comes from the Caribbean. This allows them to reduce their number of suspects by several thousand.
In 2007 the police see the Nightstalker’s pattern of behaviour changing. He’s become more focused on stealing money. More importantly his careful planning is beginning to falter, and mistakes are being made.