John Reginald Christie was a notorious English serial killer active in the 1940s and early 1950s. He murdered at least eight females, including his wife Ethel, by strangling them in his flat at 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill, London.
While serving as an infantryman during World War I, Christie was apparently injured in a gas attack, which he claimed left him permanently unable to speak loudly. He turned to crime following his discharge from the army and was imprisoned several times, for offences including theft and assault.
On the outbreak of World War II in 1939, he was accepted for service in the War Reserve Police, when the authorities failed to check his criminal record. He committed his murders between 1943 and 1953, usually by strangling his victims after he had rendered them unconscious with domestic gas; some he raped as they lay unconscious. Christie moved out of Rillington Place in March 1953, and shortly afterwards the bodies of three of his victims were discovered hidden in an alcove in his kitchen. His wife's body was found beneath the floorboards of the front room. Christie was arrested on March 30, 1953 and convicted of his wife's murder, for which he was hanged.
There has been some controversy over the responsibility for the deaths of Beryl Evans and her daughter Geraldine, who, along with Beryl's husband Timothy, were tenants at 10 Rillington Place during 1948 and 1949. Timothy Evans was charged with both murders, found guilty of the murder of his daughter, and hanged in 1950. Christie was a key prosecution witness, but when his own crimes were discovered three years later, serious doubts were raised over the integrity of Evans' conviction. Christie himself subsequently admitted killing Beryl Evans, but not Geraldine. It is now generally accepted that Christie murdered both Beryl and Geraldine Evans, and that a miscarriage of justice occurred when Timothy Evans was hanged. Police mishandling of the original enquiry, and their incompetence in searches at the house allowed Christie to escape detection, and enabled him to murder four more women.
In an official inquiry conducted in 1965-1966, it was found that it was "more probable than not" that Evans killed his wife but that he did not kill his daughter Geraldine. This finding, challenged in subsequent legal processes, enabled the Home Secretary to grant Evans a posthumous pardon for the murder of his daughter in October 1966. The case contributed to the abolition of capital punishment for murder in the United Kingdom in 1965.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: