10 RILLINGTON PLACE.
For years this was the most notorious address in the United Kingdom.
John Christie was born in the United Kingdom in 1899. He had a strange personality and was bullied at school. He also had a bad relationship with his father. Christie was lacking in confidence and had a very quiet voice. He was a soldier in the First World War. He suffered a head injury from a shell explosion in the war. This caused him to undergo a severe personality change.
After the war Christie attempted to form relationships with some women. They tended to be very rude to him because of his strange personality. Christie was physically attracted to women but at the same time hated them. He felt he had been humiliated. Christie could not achieve an erection. He married in 1920 but his marriage was unhappy. He and his wife had no children. They divorced after 4 years. Divorce was very unusual in those days and was seen as shameful. At some point Christie discovered that he could only become sexually aroused with a dead woman.
Christie worked as a postman. However, he was caught stealing postal orders and was sent to prison. Several times in the 1920s and 1930s he spent short spells in prison for theft.
When the Second World War came young men were no longer allowed to join the police. They had to join the military instead. Some of the younger policemen went off to join the army. The police where desperately short of manpower. Christie was 40 and just too old to rejoin the army. He volunteered for the police. The police were delighted to have a former soldier in excellent physical condition join them. They accepted him immediately. They did not bother to check whether he had a criminal record.
In 1943 Christie was living along at 10 Rillington Place, London. He invited a young woman to his house and killed her. He buried her under the garden. Later that year he invited Muriel Eady home. He poisoned her and buried her in the garden too. This was getting revenge on women. That year Christie left the police and started work at a radio factory.
In 1948 a couple called Timothy and Beryl Evans moved into Christie’s house. The house had several rooms. They paid him rent. Timothy Evans was a poor truck driver. He was a man of inferior intelligence. The Evans’s had a baby daughter. Beryl Evans was soon pregnant again.
In 1949 Beryl Evans and her baby daughter were both found strangled. The police arrested Evans. He allegedly confessed to the murders. He then said he had never confessed to them. The words used in the confession do not fit his vocabulary. He was a dim man and knew very few words. Evans insisted that Christie had killed Mrs Evans and the baby.
The police were faced with a choice. They could believe that Evans did it or that Christie did it. The police could not bring themselves to believe a former policeman would commit murder. They decided to go with their theory that Evans was the murderer. Timothy Evans was charged with a double murder. He went on trial. Christie testified for the prosecution. The defence looked to see if Christie had a criminal record. He indeed turned out to have an extensive criminal record. He had lied when joining the police and claimed to have never even been arrested. Despite Christie being untrustworthy the jury believed him.
Evans was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. He protested his innocence to the end. He was hanged in 1949. In fact what had happened was Christie had offered to procure an abortion for Evans’ wife since the couple could not afford another baby. Evans and his wife Beryl agreed. This procedure went wrong and to cover this up Christie made it look like she had been strangled. He also murdered the baby too.
In 1953 Christie’s ex wife Ethel moved back in with him. One day they had an argument and he strangled her. He then wrote letters in her name to friends. He pretended Ethel had moved to another city. He sold her jewellery and emptied her bank account.
In 1953 Christie began inviting women to his house. He would have them sit in the kitchen. He would release carbon monoxide into the room. That would make them faint. He would then strangle them. They would be buried under the kitchen. He did this thrice. He had sex with their corpses.
In 1953 Christie moved out. He rented out the house to another couple. The new man in the house decided to do some repair work. He dug up the floor only to find dead bodies. He was horrified! He informed the police. An extensive search found all the bodies. In the 1949 investigation the police had not searched the garden. Now they found 6 female corpses!
The police realised some of these women had been murdered 10 years before. That was befor Evans had moved in. Christie must have done them in!
The police put out a nationwide notice: Arrest John Christie! Christie saw the news and booked into a hotel in London. Bizarrely, he did not try to flee but stayed in London. He used his real name in the hotel!
A few days later a policeman in London saw Christie and noticed that he looked very worried. The police officer asked the man his name. Christie gave a false name. The police officer thought he recognised him from photos of Christie. Christie was arrested.
Christie admitted he killed these people. He claimed to have been insane. His insanity plea was rejected. He was found guilty. In July 1953 he was led to the scaffold to be hanged. He said to the hangman, ”I have an itchy nose.” The hangman said, ”It won’t bother you for long” and pulled the lever.
This is a truly revolting case. Christie was one of the most sordid criminals in British History.
1. When was Christie born?
2. What was his personality like?
3. What happened to him in the First World War?
4. Why did the police let him join?
5. Why should the police not have thought Evans did the murders?
6. What lessons can we learn about personal safety from these crimes?
7. What was Christie’s motive?
8. How was Christie stupid when the police were hunting him?
9. Does this case prove the death penalty is a bad idea?
10. Was Christie insane/?