Sometimes, even the most adept law enforcement officials can find themselves tied down by the system. There are certain avenues that all police have to go down before they arrest and charge a potential suspect, even if that suspect has displayed a particular aptitude for violence.
Not long ago, a series of men in one small English town found themselves under attack by an unusual style of serial killer. It seemed that no man was safe from the brutal killer. The worst part was, the situation could have all been avoided if the police had only followed their instincts…
It was a cold March, colder than it had recently been in Cambridgeshire, England. The police weren’t aware of it yet, but the little town of Peterborough was about to be visited by an outsider with murderous intentions. The killer would begin by targeting men, and men only, but the police would not find out why for some time.
Lukasz and John were both housemates who lived with the killer, yet were killed regardless. The first, a Polish national, was killed on the 19th of March, whereas John was killed a full 10 days later. Neither men knew who had done the deed until it was too late. It seemed that this new killer’s taste for violence didn’t seem concerned about her killing too “close to home”…
The third victim was not only the killer’s landlord, but their lover as well. 48-year-old Kevin Lee was a married father-of-two, but had taken up with the killer soon after they moved into his building. He was killed while wearing a black sequin dress and was the only one of the three victims who was found with defensive wounds on their hands.
This particular killer liked to dump the bodies in the open, in places where people would find them. Lee, though he’d fought for his life harder than anyone else, ultimately perished at the hands of someone he’d trusted and was dumped in the same dress and in a sexy pose in a roadside ditch just outside of town. He wasn’t far from the other two bodies…
Four days after the second man was murdered, a farmer found the corpses of Lukasz Slaboszewski and John Chapman in a remote dyke five miles away from Kevin Lee’s corpse. Whoever this new killer was, they were making sure to hit as many murders as possible in as short a timeframe as they could achieve.
The perpetrator of these heinous murders was a woman who originally hailed from St. Albans in Hertfordshire, England. Joanna Dennehy (on right) was raised in a four bedroom house with a loving family. She was a sporty girl who played hockey and netball and was, by all accounts, the very last person anyone would suspect to be a serial killer…
On the Radar
This had been the case for most of Joanna’s childhood, anyway. It was only when she got into her teens that her sanity began to take a significant downswing. By the time she moved to Peterborough, she had a history of low-level crime and ought to have been continuously on the police’s radar. Unfortunately, even knowing about her mental instability didn’t mean they could just up and arrest her.
Joanna was the type of strong, sadistic personality that drew weak, easily influenced men to her side. Her longtime boyfriend of five years, a man with which she had several children, only left when she came home and began drunkenly brandishing a kitchen knife. Over the years, she had been diagnosed with several psychopathic disorders, including borderline personality disorder, but there was more to it than that…
Joanna Dennehy was a sadomasochist of the highest order. She derived sexual excitement from inflicting pain and humiliation upon others. Eventually, her own psychopathic and antisocial tendencies combined with that sadomasochistic desire in her mind. The only logical step for her was murder: violent, visceral, murder.
Dennehy wasn’t alone on her murder spree. She had two friends, both of whom ironically were men, whom she convinced to help assist her in getting her murderous fix. 47-year-old Gary Stretch and 36-year-old Leslie Layton, were willing accomplices to her crimes. Dennehy had chosen Stretch because she knew she couldn’t properly lift and dispose of the bodies without some sort of help. Still, she was not lacking in self confidence…
All of the victims were male and died from stab wounds. Dennehy even told her accomplice that she specifically did not wish to kill a woman and especially not a woman with children. She didn’t care about leaving prints or DNA, she wanted to feel them die in her hands by getting as up close and personal as she could to her victims.
On a Roll
Once they found the third body, police used DNA evidence to identify Dennehy. They launched a nationwide hunt to find her, but she had already left the Peterborough area and driven 140 miles to Hereford where she attacked and repeatedly stabbed two random dog walkers. Miraculously the men survived and she was finally apprehended…
When questioned about their murderous ringleader, her accomplice stated that Dennehy had confided in him that she wanted to kill nine men in total. She wanted to be like Bonnie and Clyde, killing for fun. “I want my fun. I need you to get my fun,” she had told him. She had gotten her fun all right, but thankfully fallen short of her goal.
Besides giving information on her intentions to police, neither of Joanna’s accomplices agreed to enter the witness box. They refused to give sworn evidence or face any sort of cross-examination, and as such were found guilty. Layton was guilty of perverting the course of justice and Stretch was guilty of attempted murder. As for Joanna Dennehy…
Because of her impulsive nature and extreme danger to the community, Dennehy was on remand before the trial. One day, a prison guard discovered an elaborate escape plot written down in her diary. It involved killing a prison guard, cutting off one of the guard’s fingers, to use the amputated finger to access the biometric system used in the prison.
The prison decided it would be in everyone’s best interests to place Dennehy in solitary confinement until the court proceedings were through. Her time in solitary was emotionally devastating to Dennehy and she often complained that the isolation left her ‘tearful and upset’ and led her to self harm. Eventually, she saw that she had only one course of action…
In November 2013, Joanna Dennehy pleaded guilty to all three murders. She also pleaded to the two attempted murders as well. Some people believed that she did so to spare herself a greater sentence, or because she felt some remorse for what she had done. But Joanna’s sister knew better. “I think she did that to control the situation. She likes people to know she’s the boss,” she explained.
Judge Mr Justice Spencer also didn’t buy the whole remorse angle. As far as he was concerned, she was the type of person who had not an ounce of remorse, and he said so too. “Within the space of ten days you murdered three men in cold blood. Although you pleaded guilty, you’ve made it quite clear you have no remorse. You are a cruel, calculating, selfish and manipulative serial killer”…
One of Three
At the judge’s suggestions, Dennehy was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and was one of only three women in the history of modern English law to be given such a sentence. The other two were Myra Hindley and Rosemary West, both serial killers in their own right. Since her sentencing, Joanna Dennehy has been held at HM Prison Bronzefield.
She has been assessed by many psychiatrists and criminologists during that time and all agree that she is a true psychopath. She has no remorse and feels nothing for anyone else. It was that mental disorder that drove her to find more and more “fun” ways of expressing the dark desires that everyone else keeps inside.