Christie the Killer
Christie's first known victim was killed sometime in 1943: 21-year-old Ruth Fuerst, an Austrian girl whom he was having an affair with at the time, whom he impulsively strangled during sex, and then buried in the communal garden at Rillington Place. Excited by the ultimate power thrill that the death of his victim had afforded, he took great care in planning his next attack, on 32-year-old neighbour, Muriel Eady. On 8 November 1944, he invited her around, claiming to be able to cure a recurring chest ailment with a special inhaler, which actually contained carbon monoxide; once she was rendered unconscious he strangled her whilst raping her, and she died during the process. She too joined Fuerst in the back garden.
In 1948, Timothy Evans and his wife, Beryl, moved into Rillington Place, and shortly afterwards Beryl gave birth to a baby girl, Geraldine. Evans had an IQ of 70, and was easily suggestible, although he also possessed a violent temper. His learning difficulties made it hard for him to hold a steady job, and when, a year later, Beryl found herself pregnant again, she feared that they would not be able to support another child.
Christie claimed that he had some knowledge of abortion, illegal in the UK at that time, and offered to assist the couple. Beryl became Christie’s third victim, incapacitated, strangled and violated as per his modus operandi, on she died on 8 November 1948 as a result of his intervention. He persuaded Evans that her death had resulted from septic poisoning, from the various other abortion remedies that she had tried up until that point, and convinced him not to go to the police. Instead, he was despatched alone to stay with his mother’s sister in Wales, with Christie claiming that he had found a young couple willing to look after baby Geraldine. She was never seen alive again.
Evans’ mother, puzzled by the mysterious disappearance of Beryl and the baby, confronted Evans and, on 30 November, unable to maintain the charade any longer, he went to the police in Merthyr Tydfil. Wishing to protect Christie, he confessed to accidentally killing Beryl himself, by giving her abortion pills, and then disposing of her body in a sewer drain. Police in Notting Hill duly investigated, and found nothing, and Evans was questioned more intensely a second time, at which time he changed his story and implicated Christie in Beryl’s death.
A thorough search of Rillington Place, on 2 December 1949, revealed the bodies of Beryl and baby Geraldine hidden in the washhouse in the back garden. Geraldine still had a man’s tie around her neck, which had been used to strangle her.
Further questioning caused Evans to change his story a number of times, which included a confession to having strangled Beryl over mounting debts, but this may have been due to the limitations of his mental abilities and the strenuous police interrogation. Christie was also questioned, but managed to convince police that he had no involvement. With careful coaching from Christie, wife Ethel also corroborated his version.
Evans went on trail at the Old Bailey on 11 January 1950, and his ineffective defence team failed to follow up on a number of inconsistencies in the testimony offered by Christie and his wife; indeed, Christie was a key witness for the prosecution, and his positive impression on the jury was instrumental in Evans being found guilty. Evans continued to maintain his innocence, and attempted one appeal, but he was hanged on 9 March 1950.
Following the trial, Christie’s hypochondria grew steadily worse, and he became depressed and lost a considerable amount of weight. He lost his job at the post office, and found it difficult to maintain a job over the next few years. Around 12 December 1952, Ethel Christie disappeared mysteriously, and Christie told neighbours that she had gone back to Sheffield, while relatives were told that she had become too ill to communicate with them, although he continued to send gifts marked as coming from both of them. He had, in fact, strangled Ethel, and placed her body under the floorboards in the parlour. Christie also began treating the house with strong disinfectants, when neighbours remarked on the increasingly bad odours 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 19 January 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 odour coming from the three decomposing bodies. He finally moved out of Rillington Place on 20 March 1953, defrauding the family who took up residency, by taking 3 months rent money from them, when he was not authorised by the landlord, and they were forced to move out within 24 hours.