Born in England in 1898, John Christie served a number of prison sentences for theft and assault before becoming a serial killer. He murdered at least six women, including his wife, before being arrested and hanged in 1953.
He left school 15 and during World War I he served as a signalman. He was involved in a mustard gas attack that he claimed blinded him temporarily, and caused hysterical muteness that lasted over three years, although some believe that this loss of speech was simply a means to gain attention. His earlier sexual dysfunction and control issues precluded any normal sexual relations, and he started to frequent prostitutes from the age of 19.
This muteness did not, however, prevent his marriage, in 1920, to Ethel Simpson Waddington. Christie’s sexual difficulties remained; his visits to prostitutes continued regularly beyond his wedding day.
Christie, who had become a postman, was sent to prison for three months for stealing postal orders, and two years later he was put on probation for violent behavior. He also left Ethel around this time, and moved to London, leaving her to support herself in Sheffield.
By 29 he was back in prison on theft charges, and he spent nine months incarcerated before moving in with a prostitute, then a further six months inside for assaulting her. He was also suspected of other assaults on women, but no charges were brought. A further spell in prison for car theft followed, after which he asked estranged wife Ethel to come and live with him in London, which she did in 1933. The visits to prostitutes to relieve his violent sexual urges continued, which by now also included elements of necrophilia, and these urges intensified over the next decade.
Christie and Ethel moved to 10 Rillington Place in 1938.
Christie’s first known victim was killed sometime in 1943. Ruth Fuerst was a 21-year-old Austrian girl who was having an affair with Christie when he impulsively strangled her during sex, and then buried her in the communal garden at Rillington Place. Excited by the ultimate power thrill that the death of his victim had afforded, he took great care in planning his next attack, on 32-year-old neighbor, Muriel Eady. On November 8,1944, he invited her over, claiming to be able to cure a recurring chest ailment with a special inhaler, which actually contained carbon monoxide. Once she was rendered unconscious he strangled her while raping her, and she died during the process. She too joined Fuerst in the back garden.
In 1948, Timothy Evans and his wife, Beryl, moved into Rillington Place, and soon Beryl gave birth to a baby girl, Geraldine. Evans had an IQ of 70, and was an impressionable man, although he also possessed a violent temper. His learning difficulties made it hard for him to hold a steady job, and when, a year later, Beryl found herself pregnant again, she feared that they would not be able to support another child.
Christie claimed that he had some knowledge of abortion, illegal in the U.K. at that time, and offered to assist the couple. Beryl became Christie’s third victim, incapacitated, strangled and violated as per his modus operandi, on she died on November 8,1948 as a result of his intervention. He persuaded Evans that her death had resulted from septic poisoning, from the various other abortion remedies that she had tried up until that point, and convinced him not to go to the police. Instead, he was dispatched alone to stay with his mother’s sister in Wales, with Christie claiming that he had found a young couple willing to look after baby Geraldine. She was never seen alive again.
Evans’ mother, puzzled by the mysterious disappearance of Beryl and the baby, confronted Evans and, on November 30, unable to maintain the charade any longer, he went to the police in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.