A ho house of horror
We examine the shocking real-life crimes given the Hollywood treatment
ohn Christie grew up in rural Yorkshire as the sixth of seven children.
With five dominating older sisters, and a father who liked to dish out beatings, the boy’s personality never had the chance to fully develop.
But John Christie’s intelligence did.
He excelled at school, with an astonishingly high IQ and a talent for Maths, and he worked his way up to the top rank of the Boy Scouts.
Nevertheless, Christie was a loner.
When he hit his teenage years, and became interested in girls, he soon became even more socially isolated.
He suffered with erectile dysfunction, and rumours quickly spread – with other school kids nicknaming him ‘Can’t-do-it-christie’.
It wasn’t an issue he would grow out of, and it triggered a feeling of dread around women.
Nevertheless, in 1920 at the age of 21, he married Ethel Simpson in a simple
Jservice at a register office in Halifax, West Yorkshire.
But the marriage was anything but happy.
Christie discovered he could only perform sexually with prostitutes – when he was in complete control.
‘All my life I’ve had this fear of appearing ridiculous as a lover,’ he later said.
So, he regularly cheated on his wife, became violent with her.
Four years later, the couple separated, and Christie moved to London. Over the next decade, he turned to a life of crime and was convicted of theft, larceny and assault.
In 1933, after doing time behind bars for stealing a car from a priest, Christie got back together with Ethel, and they moved in to 10 Rillington Place.
It was a small garden flat in the then-impoverished and run-down area of Notting Hill in London.
But the couple’s address would later become infamous.
However, their second attempt at a happy marriage was also a disaster.
Ethel suffered a miscarriage and Christie continued to cheat.
Over the next decade, his violent tendencies grew more and more out of control.
Often, it was Ethel who took the brunt of his abuse, but he also took out his rage on the prostitutes he hired.
In 1943, things went a step too far when Christie invited prostitute Ruth Fuerst to his house, and ended up strangling her to death.
Instead of being horrified by what he’d done, Christie revelled in it – and, once he got a taste for murder, he couldn’t stop.
Soon after Ruth’s murder, he invited a woman named Muriel Eady, his second victim, to the home he shared with Ethel, telling Muriel that
He hired prostitutes, took out his rage on them, too
he could cure her bronchitis.
Christie persuaded her to inhale gas from a jar. But, far from curing her, it was poisonous carbon monoxide and she passed out.
Sickeningly, he then raped her unconscious body while strangling her until she died.
Over the next nine years, Christie killed at least another six women using the same techniques.
One of them was his upstairs neighbour Beryl Evans. She was pregnant, and with a 1-year-old daughter already, she wanted a termination.
Christie convinced her – and her husband Timothy – that he had the skills to safely carry out the procedure.
Instead, he strangled and raped Beryl. He then also strangled her baby daughter.
Timothy Evans was wrongly charged with the murders and executed in 1950.
It seemed that John Christie was unstoppable – and even his long-suffering wife Ethel wasn’t safe.
In December 1952, he strangled her to death and hid her body under the floorboards.
He tried to cover up what he’d done by telling friends and family that Ethel was unwell or away. In the meantime, he pawned her jewellery and emptied her bank account.
It was more than two years before the police finally caught up with Christie, after he’d moved out and the new tenants began discovering body parts.
And, when the police searched the property, it wasn’t just Ethel’s body they discovered.
They also found bodies buried in the garden and stashed behind a makeshift wall in the kitchen.
Christie claimed the lives of at least eight women. He confessed, but was only put on trial for Ethel’s murder.
He was found guilty, hanged at Pentonville Prison in 1953.
The homes on Rillington Place became tainted by the horrors of Number 10, and they were later demolished.
The land where the house stood has since been turned into a garden for the community, in a bid to erase the past – although no-one in the area has ever forgotten the horrific crimes of John Christie.