“The ferocity of the way he struck him was quite incredible. He must have really used all his strength and he was strong, he was strong at 17.”
Ken Tappenden, Former Detective Inspector, Kent Police
In early 1974, the map in the police incident room at Scotland Yard is covered with red dots, pinpointing areas in South West London where a mugger has struck, repeatedly targeting old ladies. The perpetrator was Patrick Mackay, and his violence was about to escalate.
On 26 Feb 1974, police discover the body of an elderly lady, Isabella Griffiths. The door to her home has been forced open and she has been strangled. She has also been repeatedly struck with a heavy instrument and has lain dead in her Chelsea flat for 12 days. The murderer has placed the body in the kitchen, covered it up, closed her eyes then stabbed her through the chest, pinning her body to the floor. Police find evidence that the murderer has also hung around in the house for a substantial period of time listening to the radio.
At this stage police do not realise there is a serial killer at large.
On 10 March 1975, a year after the murder of Isabella Griffiths, the body of Adele Price is discovered in a flat on Lowndes Square, in Knightsbridge, London. Again, there are disturbing details to this murder.
The murderer has forced his way in to the flat and strangled Mrs Price. He then stays in the flat for several hours after the murder, falling asleep in an armchair with the dead body lying in the kitchen. He is rudely awoken when Mrs Price’s granddaughter calls on the intercom and makes his escape before she lets herself into the flat upon getting no reply.
The police realise that the murders of these two elderly ladies are connected but they have no suspects to investigate.
In the sleepy village of Shorne in Kent, Father Anthony Crean is preparing for Easter. He is well known in the community and has a strong commitment to helping the homeless. He had extended a helping hand to Patrick Mackay, whom he had met whilst out walking a couple of years before. They had become friends, but on one occasion Mackay had stolen a blank cheque from the Father’s house, forged his signature and obtained £80 in cash over the counter of a local bank.
Mackay was caught and ordered to pay the money back to Father Crean. This money is never repaid and leads to another incident on 21 March 1975.
Mackay lets himself into Father Crean’s cottage in his absence, and when the Father returns they fight in the hallway of the house. Crean manages to break free and locks himself in the bathroom but Mackay finds and axe and uses it to break through the door. He then stabs the old man repeatedly in a frenzied attack, finally killing him by striking in the head with the axe.
Later that evening a nun, who is concerned about the whereabouts of Father Crean, makes a horrific discovery. She finds him, floating in a bath full of bloody water.