At a public house in Kensington, Haigh chanced upon former employer 'Mac' McSwan again. Mac was happy to see him and took Haigh to see his parents. During the friendly reunion they told Haigh of their recent investments in property. This information was to seal their fates. After socialising with Mac for several weeks, Haigh carried out his plan on the 9 September 1944.
In Haigh's diary, he claimed that he had a sudden need for blood so he hit McSwan over the head with a blunt instrument. Then he slit his throat. He says, "I got a mug and took some blood, from his neck, in the mug, and drank it."
Haigh later found a 40-gallon barrel in which to put McSwan’s body and then filled it with sulphuric acid. He described in his confession how, when the body was finally submerged in liquid acid, the fumes overwhelmed him and he had to go outside. Later he covered the drum and went home to sleep, leaving his former employer and friend to dissolve into a liquid sludge. It was during the night that he supposedly suffered from more surreal and blood-filled nightmares.
The next day the remains of McSwan were little more than cold liquid and lumps which Haigh disposed of down a drain. Knowing that he had killed someone and removed all traces of them gave Haigh a feeling of euphoria.
Haigh managed to convince McSwan’s parents that their son had gone away to avoid conscription. He even sent fake postcards to them from Scotland pretending to be their son. However, Haigh’s main concern was to acquire the rest of the McSwan assets.
The next murder would be committed with the addition of new equipment to deal with dissolving bodies. A stirrup-pump, DIY tin face masks and even a bath tub made of steel, painted to make it more resistant to corrosion, were all employed by Haigh in his obscene workshop of death.
The McSwan Murders
According to a police statement, before Haigh hit upon his plan to cruelly dispose of the remainder of the McSwan family, he also murdered a middle-aged woman from Hammersmith.
The McSwans disappeared on 2 July 1945. They were killed in a similarly tragic way to their son. Haigh hit them first, killing them and then claimed to have drunk their blood, before dissolving them in acid baths.
After informing the McSwans' landlady that the couple had gone to America, Haigh had all of their mail forwarded to him, including Mr McSwan's pension. He then set about forging their son’s signature on a Power of Attorney form. By forging a deed on a property owned by Mrs McSwan and appropriating it into a false name, Haigh managed to make nearly £2000 from selling the property. That, along with securities and sales of possessions, totalled £6000.
For a while Haigh managed to swindle people through a variety of scams, including posing as a liaison officer dealing with patents and setting up fake branches in several towns. It was also around this time that he later claimed in a police confession that he had killed and disposed of a young man called Max from Kensington.
Haigh’s spoils from the McSwans were running out fast and the evil sociopath needed money from new victims. This time he chose a more worldly couple, Dr Archibald Henderson, 52, and his wife, Rose, 41, who were selling their home.
Cultivating a relationship with the couple, based on a shared passion for music, Haigh encouraged them to reveal information about their properties.
Renting a storehouse on Leopold Road in Crawley, London, Haigh moved his possessions from Gloucester Street and began setting up his obscene workshop once again. This time he ordered three carboys of sulphuric acid and two 40-gallon drums without tops.
On 12 February 1946, he drove Dr Henderson to Crawley and shot him in the head with the doctor's own revolver. He then left the body in a storeroom and set off to get Mrs Henderson. After some reluctance she was driven to the storehouse. Haigh shot her from behind and after trussing up both her and her husband’s bodies, left them overnight. Haigh later claimed to the police that he drank blood from both of them.
Haigh dissolved both bodies in acid but this time the grisly act did not erase all traces, as Mr Henderson’s foot was left intact. This did not seem to bother Haigh too much, as he dumped all the remains including the foot in the corner of a yard. The psychopath by now felt immune to being captured.
Efforts to maintain the impression that the Henderson’s were still alive were methodical and time consuming. Haigh even forged letters by Rose Henderson, writing a lengthy letter to her brother. After selling their properties and possessions he acquired around £8000 in total. Showing a sickening contempt for his victims he even gave his girlfriend Barbara some of Mrs Henderson’s clothes to wear.
Unexpectedly, Rose Henderson’s brother Burlin was prepared to go to the police. Haigh managed to convince him that the couple had emigrated to South Africa on the grounds that Dr Henderson had carried out an illegal abortion.
As an indication of Haigh’s depravity and sociopathic tendencies, he even planned on visiting the mother of a recently deceased school friend whom he had spotted in the obituaries section of a local newspaper.
No doubt Haigh had intentions to dispose of the grieving mother and misappropriate any possessions he could. His plan was foiled when the frail woman unexpectedly died herself.
Haigh’s money once again started to run out, mainly due to gambling and expensive tastes which included staying at an upmarket hotel. While there he had socialised with a wealthy elderly woman, Mrs Olive Durand-Deacon, and thought up murderous plans to dispose of her.
In June 1948 Haigh claimed that his car was stolen but the Lagonda was found smashed at the foot of a cliff. Less than a month later, an unidentified body was found nearby. However, the police decided that the two incidents were unrelated. Haigh denied having anything to do with the body, even after his arrest.
Haigh had told girlfriend Barbara that he wanted to collect the car insurance and even took her to the spot where the Lagonda had been written off. It was then that she began to become suspicious of her soon-to-be husband.
In the meantime, despite having killed Mrs Durand-Deacon, his money was running out again and he needed to pay off loans. Even although he tried to invite other people out to his Crawley den of death, no-one took him up on his offer.
Also, Rose Henderson’s brother was once again causing problems for Haigh by insisting that the police locate his sister due to a death in the family. Haigh realised that he would have to silence him too.
Before Haigh could carry out his callous intentions, he was arrested. His first comment to the reception officer when he first arrived at Lewes prison was, "This is the result of doing six people, but not for personal gain". Haigh then confessed to everything.