A troubled start to life
“Ten Traits of Serial Killers
...They come from deeply troubled families. Typically, they have been abandoned at an early age by their fathers...”
Harold Schechter, The Serial Killer Files
Birmingham born Peter Blake moved to Northumbria in the early 1970s where he found work with the council. It’s also where he met Josephine Moat. Josephine already had one son, Angus, but was separated from the father. Peter courted her and soon he, Josephine and little Angus moved in together into a lovely old cottage in the idyllic village of Longhorsley. Initially, the couple were very happy and enjoyed romantic walks in the countryside together. But the relationship broke down.
Peter left, never to return. However, Josephine was pregnant. Raoul was born 17 June 1973. He would never know his father. Josephine wouldn’t put Peter’s name down on the birth certificate and when Peter tried to re-establish contact, she rejected him. Throughout Raoul’s life, Josephine refused to answer his questions about his missing father. Raoul would later fill in the gaps by creating a fantasy where he was born in France to a French father.
“...he was not a monster and was not born evil. He was just a man who had found his breaking point.”
A photo of Raoul aged three shows a red-headed, rosy-cheeked, blue-eyed, smiling little boy. But his smile covered his desperately poor upbringing in Newcastle’s deprived West End and the fact that his mother suffered from mental health problems. It’s later claimed one of his early childhood memories is watching her burn all his toys.
So Raoul went to live with and was raised by his grandmother. His mother, Josephine, lived only a few doors down with Raoul’s stepfather, Brian Healey. The adult Raoul would later be plagued night after night by the same nightmare. In it, he was aged seven and being chased down his street by monsters.
As Raoul’s troubled childhood continued he committed animal cruelty and arson. Unable to control his own environment, he learnt to control his body. He left school at 16 and then at 17, he started to practise karate. He gained a lot of muscle. Raoul started taking steroids to supplement his new obsession, bodybuilding. His already difficult temper now became more unpredictable. At 19, he started work at a local factory. His faltering relationship with his mother and stepfather started to deteriorate even further.
Aged 24, he leaves home. For the next ten years, he loses contact with his mother. She tries to contact him through the Salvation Army. But Raoul doesn’t want her.
He goes out with a girl from Rothbury. The girlfriend remembers him fondly as a ‘lovely lad’, a practical joker who was ‘daft as a brush’. They often camp in the woods together. He gets to know the area well.
And one day, it’s where he will make his last stand.