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Rillington Place: The Terrible Truth About The Murderer John Christie

He was hanged in Pentonville Prison on 15 July 1953.

29/11/2016 11:56 | Updated 3 days ago

On Tuesday, a chilling three-part drama based on the real-life murders carried out by John Christie in Notting Hill will air.

BBC One’s Rillington Place examines the deaths and the subsequent tragic miscarriage of justice, which led to Timothy Evans being hanged for a crime he did not commit and how the case contributed towards the abolition of capital punishment in Britain.

Tim Roth and Samantha Morton star in the drama which will follow the same events as the earlier film, which starred Richard Attenborough as the killer, and John Hurt as his neighbour Timothy Evans. 

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John Christie was a serial killer active in the 1940s and 50s 

Who was John Christie?

Born in 1898, Christie graduated from petty theft to serving prison sentences for violent crimes including assault before securing his place as one of the UK’s most prolific serial killers of the 20th Century.

The Yorkshireman served as a special police constable during the Second World War and later worked at the Post Office. Christie spoke with a soft, quiet voice he claimed was the result of being caught in a mustard gas attack in France a few months before the war ended.

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Children playing outside 10 Rillington Place in 1966

He moved to London in the 1920s, persuading his then-estranged wife Ethel to join him in 1933. The pair moved to 10 Rillington Place in 1938.  

Christie, who had an IQ of 128, is believed to have been impotent and frequently visited sex workers.

Who did he kill?

Ruth Fuerst, 21

Muriel Eady, 32

Beryl Evans, 20

Ethel Christie, 54

Rita Nelson, 25

Kathleen Maloney, 26

Hectorina MacLennan, 26

Christie never admitted it, but he is largely believed to have killed 13-month-old Geraldine Evans, whose father Timothy was executed for the crime.

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Ruth Fuerst, believed to have been Christie's first victim 

How did he kill them?

Christie strangled his lover Ruth Fuerst during sex. His neighbour Muriel Eady was lured into his home by a promise he could cure her recurring chest infection with a special inhaler. Eady was subdued with carbon monoxide and was strangled as Christie raped her.

Beryl Evans, who moved into Rillington Place with her husband Timothy and baby daughter Geraldine, came to Christie when she found herself pregnant again, fearing she could not support another child. Christie claimed to be able to perform an abortion but instead took her life.

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Christie's neighbour Mrs Hart, points to the spot in the garden of 10 Rillington Place, where two of his victims were buried (1953)

Rita Nelson, a pregnant prostitute, suffered the same fate as Evans after Christie promised to help her with a termination. He strangled his wife.

Kathleen Maloney, another sex worker, was gassed and strangled and raped, as was Hectorina McLennan.

Where did he hide the bodies?

Christie hid the bodies of his victims variously in his home in a secret kitchen alcove and under the floorboards, before moving two of them into his garden. He used the thigh bone of one woman to prop up his fence. 

He began cleaning the property with strong disinfectants when neighbours complained about the strong odours emanating from the house.

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Timothy Evans was executed for murdering his baby daughter Geraldine. He received a posthumous pardon in 1966 

When was he caught?  

Christie moved out of Rillington Place in 1953 and his terrible crimes were discovered by a tenant renovating the kitchen. A manhunt began and 10 days later Christie was found. He confessed to all the murders except for baby Geraldine, who was found alongside her mother and had also been strangled.

In 1953 Christie was tried only for the murder of his wife. The 54-year-old admitted murder but pleaded guilty by reason of insanity. His plea was dismissed and he was hanged in Pentonville Prison on 15 July 1953.

Was an innocent person hanged because of him?

Christie’s former neighbour Timothy Evans, the husband of murdered Beryl Evans, was executed in 1950 for killing his baby daughter Geraldine. Evans, who had learning difficulties and an IQ of 70, was also charged with murdering his wife Beryl, but the charge was not pursued and Christie was later charged with Beryl’s murder.

Many believe Evans was forced into giving a false confession and he was given a posthumous pardon in 1966. His case was one of several that eventually contributed to the abolition of capital punishment in Britain.

Does the address still exit?

Rillington Place was demolished in the 1970s and replaced with Bartle Close and Andrews Square. A small memorial garden exists where Christie’s house used to be.

Rillington Place will air on BBC One at 9pm on 29 November. 

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