Watford Observer: 10 Rillington Place On Wednesday, 30th November 1949, Timothy Evans, aged 24, a van driver, stepped into a police station in South Wales and said police he had disposed of his spouse, Beryl, by putting her body down a drain. He went on to clarify that he, Beryl, and their baby had resided in a flat in Notting Hill, London, and Beryl, who was expectant, had taken drugs that had been given to Evans by a stranger.
Evans told he had told Beryl not to swallow the drugs, but when he reached home from work he had discovered her dead. So he had entrusted someone to take care of the kid and now, needing the matter resolved, he had come to his hometown to tell police where they could discover Beryl’s corpse. He did not say he had murdered Beryl, but he was adamant that no one had assisted him in disposing of her.
Evans Changed His Story
When officers of the Metropolitan Police lifted the huge manhole cover of the drain, it was evident that no one alone could have done so, demonstrating that Evans was lying. And it may be they came to the finding that he was insane, for the drain was empty. On hearing this, Evans altered his story.
The man, he told, was not an outsider at all. He was Reg Christie, who lived at another flat with his spouse, Ethel, at the same address. Evans told that on 8th November, when he was at a job, Beryl had gone to see Christie, who had offered to help her abort her child. It was Christie who had removed Beryl’s corpse, and it was Christie who offered to take care of Geraldine. Christie knew a family, he told, who would take care of the newborn. Then Christie, helpful as ever, instructed Evans to get rid of his furniture and go, so he did.
Evans Changed Again
Then Evans altered his story again. He told he had assisted Christie to carry Beryl’s corpse to his flat and had later visited him, asking to glimpse his daughter. Christie would not tell him where she was, so Evans asked him to tell whoever had her to call his mother and give her their address.
Again officers from the Met visited the address, 10, Rillington Place, Notting Hill, but discovered nothing except a stolen briefcase in Evans’ flat. Evans was accused of stealing it and brought to London. So far there was nothing to verify there had been any killing, and Christie, a former Special Constable, told them the entire story was crazy, and that Timothy Evans was a known liar – which he was.
Who Was Timothy John Evans?
Timothy John Evans was born in Merthyr. His parents’ wedding failed and was brought up by his grandmother who could not govern him. He had a low I.Q. and was illiterate. Above all, he had a stature as an individual who fantasized, and in adulthood, he took to drinking heavily and was brutal. He wedded Beryl Thorley, five years his junior and, it appears, about as bright as him. When Beryl fell expectant they needed more room so went to live in a squalid upstairs flat at 10, Rillington Place.
The baby put distress on the marriage, mostly because the Evans’s could not afford to live on a van driver’s earnings. Timothy and Beryl argued, sometimes violently. Then a friend of Beryl’s, Lucy Endecott, came to stay, ending up sleeping with Beryl whilst her husband slept on the ground. Lucy eventually left, but not before attracting the eye of Timothy, who said he would throw Beryl out of the window. Lucy found Timothy Evans too vicious for her liking and evacuated from the spectacle. Then Beryl found herself expectant again. She wanted an abortion, unlawful in those days. She was so furious she told everyone she knew, including the Christies.
When Beryl and baby Geraldine could not be discovered, the police returned to Rillington Place for another search. They did it appropriately this time. Having discovered no glimmer in the home, they turned their attention to the tiny washhouse in the yard. In the dark recess behind the sink, they discovered a huge package bandaged in a tablecloth tied with a cord. Inside was the deteriorating corpse of Beryl Evans. Tucked away beneath a pile of wood was Geraldine. Mum and daughter had been suffocated, and a man’s tie was still around the baby’s neck.
They had been dead about three weeks. Beryl had been whipped and there were clues of sexual interference. When spoken to by police, Christie told him he thought the tie was identical to one he’d seen Evans wearing. The police, now performing a murder inquiry, again spoke to Evans, who altered his story yet again, confessing the killings of his wife and daughter, and later gave a more comprehensive account of the whole sequence of events. He told them he had killed Beryl in the morning and placed her in the washhouse, then baby Geraldine when he got home from work, placing her into the washhouse also. But this was not probable, for, on 8th November, there were workmen in there all day.
I Did Not Do It
Despite this apparent discrepancy, which required investigating at least, Evans, the known liar and man of low intelligence, and probably scared to say anything against an ex-Special was accused of the killings. He confessed them to the police, but not to his mum. ‘I didn’t do it, mam,’ he told. ‘It was Christie.’
Watford Observer: John Christie John Reginald Halliday Christie was a Yorkshireman. In 1938 he and Ethel moved to 10 Rillington Place, a small, Victorian home. The Christies occupied the ground floor flat, with two other flats upstairs and a little communal washhouse accessible for shared use by all tenants. There was a little garden.
Christie The Killer
Christie, it appears, had been regularly flogged as a kid. His four older sisters bossed him around. Tiny wonder, you might think, that he was barely the type to make friends handily, or that he may have been inhibited sexually, as he was, earning nicknames problematic for publication in a family newspaper. During the First World War, he saw action when he was gassed. After getting wedded in 1920 he became a postman. He also made use of the service of prostitutes, before and after his wedding to Ethel.
In time Christie would go to jail for offenses of theft and violence. Ethel left him and got on to live with her mother in Sheffield. Christie’s illegal career thrived, one of his convictions being to hit a prostitute over the head with a cricket bat, for which he got six months. Yet, after ten years’ separation, Ethel came back. Then came the Second World War when Christie, now the reformed personality, volunteered for the War Reserve Police and became a Special at Harrow Road.
The Sexual Desires
He also developed a penchant for ‘sexual deviance’, practiced on women who visited the flat when Ethel visited her mum. In the spring of 1948, the Evans’s reached, and the next year came to the killings of Beryl and Geraldine.
Timothy Evans stood trial for one killing only, that of his daughter, Geraldine. He pleaded not guilty. The trial reasoned he would put up a defense of ‘provocation’ if accused of killing Beryl, which might have spared him the noose, a defense unavailable to Evans if accused of killing a baby. They produced four ‘confessions’ of a backward illiterate who would have been questioned mercilessly when in custody. The prosecution did not call the workmen who were in the washhouse on the day Evans had told he had taken the corpses of his wife and baby there, nor other indication which did not benefit their case. Today, let it be said, Timothy Evans would not have been sentenced on admission alone, at least not in the way it was taken.
Christie testified against Evans. Here was a man who had served during the war, and who had been a ‘Special’, giving information against somebody who had ‘confessed’. As for his prior record of crime, Christie had not been in crisis for seventeen years. Evans was seen as the liar he was, a man who was now blaming Christie to save his skin. He had interpreted, albeit in changing accounts, the details of the killings; but in custody then, who is to say what details the police gave him? Evans was convicted and sentenced to death. He was hanged on 9th March 1950.
Which left Mr. and Mrs. Christie to get on with their lives in Rillington Place. But things did not go nicely, what with Christie’s hypochondria driving his spouse mad, and her repugnance of a Jamaican family who had moved into one of the other flats. Christie lost his employment. What a disappointing couple they must have been, living on the site of a double murder and driving one another to mutual distraction. The problem was resolved that December when Ethel Christie vanished.
Christie told Ethel’s friends that his spouse had came back to Sheffield, although they must have thought it strange that she would do so without so much as a word. He told one that Ethel was asking politely after her and even sent presents to relatives purporting to be from the happy couple – himself and Ethel. Without employment and with no money, he sold his furniture to pay the rent. He even ‘sold’ the rented flat to a couple, who strode in then out again when they found the scam. They were pleased to do so, for the place had a bizarre smell about it. Christie vanished.
They Started Again
The flat now vacant, an upstairs tenant, Mr. Brown, was authorized to make use of the kitchen facilities. Mr. Brown thought it required a tidy-up – an understatement that would have been – and decided to put a shelf up. The wall was hollow, and behind he found there was a hidden cupboard door. He shone a light inside and saw what seemed to be the corpse of a nude woman. He could not have known that he was about to reveal a horror story, that six corpses would be found at 10 Rillington Place, that Reginald Christie would be recognized as a mass killer of women in situations of appalling intensity. The police were called and they started a search…
The woman had been suffocated. Her hands were tied and the body was well preserved, thanks to the continuous low temperature in the cupboard. A second woman’s corpse was discovered, also in the cupboard, then a third. Then the police glimpsed loose floorboards in the parlor, and lifting them they dug in the rubble below where they discovered the body of another lifeless woman. The next day they surveyed the whole flat, discovering potassium cyanide and a tin of pubic hairs. Then they surveyed the garden, where they found bones, a skull, and two more women’s bodies.
Task Of Identification
Now the police had the task of identification, which was done rapidly. It was obvious that, except in the case of his wife, Ethel (who was one of the victims), Christie had killed to fulfill the sexual perversions of their killer: necrophilia was his game – having intercourse with a lifeless person, or a person near death. Christie’s M.O. (modus operandi) had been to persuade most of his victims to inhale through a tube, thinking it was a remedy for something or other when they were unknowingly inhaling fatal carbon monoxide gas as Christie fulfilled his sexual lust. In the latter situations – sexual intercourse with a woman who was intoxicated through being gassed – this amounted to rape.
The hunt was on for Christie. He was caught on the Embankment at Putney by a patrolling constable, destitute and sleeping rough. Christie was identified by his description and other than giving an erroneous name gave no trouble. After blaming everyone, including his spouse, for his actions, Christie gave the court detailed accounts of all the killings except that of baby Geraldine Evans whom, he said, he did not murder. He was hanged on 15th July 1953.
In 1966, Timothy Evans was posthumously pardoned for the killing of his daughter, Geraldine.
Christie’s known victims
- Ruth Fuerst, 21, Austrian, living in London. She was probably a prostitute. She visited Christie in his flat and was suffocated having sex with him on the bed. Buried in the garden. Christie, confessing, said: ‘I remember encountering a strange, peaceful thrill’. He confessed the only way he could attain potency was with casualties he rendered helplessly.
- Muriel Eady, 32. Offering her a remedy for catarrh, he asked her to his flat where she inhaled carbon monoxide gas, the smell hidden by the odor of balsam. As she was perishing, or probably dead, Christie had intercourse with her as he suffocated her with a stocking. He buried her in the garden.
- Beryl Evans. Christie possibly duped her into believing the ‘gas’ was to help with the abortion and had intercourse with her as she was perishing or dead. The post mortem disclosed there was no try to abort her baby.
- Ethel Christie, his spouse. He told me he was ‘fed up with her moving around in bed. Buried under the floorboards.
- Rita Nelson, 25. the expectant corpse is hidden in the kitchen cupboard. Gassed. Christie probably offered to abort her unborn baby.
- Kathleen Maloney, 26. Gassed and suffocated. The corpse is hidden in the kitchen cupboard.
- Hectoring Maclennan, 26. Gassed during sexual intercourse. The corpse is hidden in the kitchen cupboard.
Margaret Forrest was fortunate. She agreed to visit Christie’s flat, to receive ‘treatment’ for migraine, lost the address, and didn’t turn up.
The recovered pubic hairs did not match everybody that was discovered.