Serial killers are among the scariest things that exist in modern society. There’s no way to know one from any other stranger, no way to know that you’re in danger until it’s too late. Thankfully, the methods by which investigators track down and stop serial killers have advanced a lot over the last few decades.
But that doesn’t mean every time there’s a serial killer, law enforcement does a great job stopping them. After all, a person isn’t even considered a serial killer until they’ve claimed a certain number of lives. When one serial killer was on the loose, law enforcement would do a less than perfect job of tracking him down with terrible results….
In 1954, a pair of English teenagers got themselves into a bit of trouble. They had been dating for just a while when they made the mistake of getting pregnant. Abortion was illegal in England at the time, but the 17-year-old mother gave birth to a little boy named Colin and she was determined to raise him.
The boy’s father initially intended to stay with her and raise his son but quickly changed his mind after Colin was born and left the two of them alone, Colin’s mother did her best to raise him well and enlisted the aid of her parents. She was able to scrape by with her parents’ help and on her wages as a clerk in a newspaper shop but it was still tough. Because of his difficult upbringing, Colin was always getting into trouble…
Colin would later describe himself as a child as “a thin, lanky little runt, always getting the worst of it” from schoolyard bullies. But his youth wasn’t all hardship. He fondly remembered the 2 years he was a member of the Sea Cadets, a youth charity where he learned about subjects like sailing, engineering and first aid.
What was perhaps the most memorable — and traumatizing — part of Colin’s childhood, though, were the occasions where he was approached by older men with sexual advances. It happened once at a fair, once as he was using a public restroom, once at a movie theater, and once in a second hand store. Each time, Colin resisted their advances and there was no sexual contact but he still felt angry and violated on each occasion…
By the time Colin was a teenager, the former “runt” was now 6’2 and he was paying back the world for all the cruelty and hardship that had been piled on him in his youth by making life harder for others. He was constantly getting into trouble with the law, being convicted for theft, burglary, and blackmail while still in his teens and ended up serving 2 terms in a borstal, a correctional facility for youth.
Colin was released from the borstal for the final time when he was 18 but he hadn’t left crime behind him. From 1977 to 1985, he would go to prison for a year or so for theft, burglary, or some similar crime, then get out for a year or so. During his time outside of prison, Colin had a number of girlfriends, usually older single mothers. He even got married twice and was happy for a time. But each time he would either go back into prison or be unfaithful and the relationship would fall apart…
By 1991, Colin was working at a shelter for the homeless while he himself was homeless. He was growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of direction in his life and, after he was forced to resign from that job due to a dispute with some of the staff, he made a dark decision.
As his new year’s resolution in 1993, The 39-year-old Colin Ireland decided he was going to become a serial killer. He had been fascinated by serial killers and spent many hours carefully studying them as well as the methods investigators used to track them down. He would put that information to use in his new chosen hobby…
Colin approached killing in an entirely methodical way. Because most serial killers operate within a 7 mile radius of their homes, Colin decided he would only target people in the London area, despite living in Southend. For his victims, he chose “bottoms,” submissive men in the gay community.
Perhaps part of the reason he picked gay men as his targets was a kind of revenge for the violation he’d felt when approached by older men as a child. The primary reason, though, is because it would be easier to lure the men in with the promise of sex, then tie them up as part of the foreplay…
For his first victim, Colin went to the Coleherne pub in Brompton Road, West London, which had a reputation in the gay community as a place to easily find a one night stand. There, he met a 45-year-old choreographer named Peter Walker and the 2 went together to Walker’s apartment.
Once there, Walker willingly allowed Colin to bind him with cord to his 4-poster bed for what he thought would be foreplay. Instead, Colin quickly became violent with the helpless man. He used a dog lead, a belt, and his fists to beat Walker mercilessly before he suffocated him to death by putting a plastic bag over his head…
Staying Until Morning
Colin waited in the apartment with the dead man until morning to avoid any suspicion by being seen leaving in the middle of the night. He’d brought gloves to not leave prints as well of a change of clothing and shoes and, as he went back home amongst the morning commuters, he disposed of his old clothes by throwing them out of the train window.
Do It Again
Police would discover Walker’s body not long after he was killed but they had little evidence to go on. After another 2 months, Colin felt the urge to kill again and returned to the Coleherne, pulling the same routine, this time with 37-year-old librarian named Christopher Dunn. Again he went home with him and beat and suffocated him after tying him up…
Six days after he killed Dunn, Colin went back to the Coleherne for a third victim, 35-year-old Perry Bradley III, the son of a serving US congressman. Then, 3 days later, he killed 33-year-old Andrew Collier. Though he was very successful at killing, Colin was frustrated. He wanted to be a serial killer for the fame and up until that point, the police hadn’t even linked the murders together.
Why Don’t You Chase Me
Fed up with the police incompetence in catching him, Colin called up a couple of police stations on June 12th, 1993. He told them that he’d been committing the murders, saying they needed to stop him before he killed again. They wouldn’t catch him before he killed another victim 41-year-old Emanuel Spiteri, who he again met at the Coleherne…
Call Them Again
The next day, Colin again called police and told them where to look for his latest victim, then told them that to officially be a “serial” killer, one had to have 5 victims. Because he had 5, he said, he’d probably never do it again.
Tracking Him Down
Police were able to catch up with Colin about a month later after a huge publicity campaign produced witnesses who’d seen Colin with the men on the nights they disappeared, they matched descriptions with train security footage and, combined with an errant fingerprint Colin had left at the scene of one murder, it was enough to arrest him…
No Defense, Just Explanation
There was never a trial for Colin Ireland because he immediately confessed to all 5 killings, giving police detailed and precise descriptions of the killings, then plead no contest to 5 counts of murder. In his confession, he emphasized that he hadn’t been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he was not gay, he engaged in no sexual activity with his victims, and finally, that he had no ill will for homosexuals.
He said he chose his victims because they were deviants who were into BDSM. He saw himself as ridding society of vermin and craved recognition as a “superior person.” For each of the murders, Colin was given a life sentence. He spent the rest of his life in prison until he died at the age of 57 from pulmonary fibrosis.