John Reginald Halliday Christie was born in Yorkshire, England in 1898. The product of a control-freak, abusive father and an overprotective mother, he grew up sexually impotent and a hypochondriac. He developed an inherent dislike of women, a horror of dirt and often exaggerated minor illnesses in an attempt to gain attention.
Socially and sexually inhibited, his early attempts at love-making failed earning him the nicknames, "Can't-make-it-Christie" and "Reggie-No-Dick." By age 19 he was frequenting prostitutes.
In 1920 he married Ethel Simpson Waddington. The two were separated four years later when Christie left her to move to London. He also continued visiting prostitutes throughout the marriage.
Over the next ten years Christie spent the next ten years or so in and out of prison for petty crimes and assault. When he was released from his latest stint in prison in 1933, he was reunited with his wife, Ethel, when she agreed to join him in London. The two moved into a ground floor apartment at 10 Rillington Place in the Ladbroke Grove neighborhood of Notting Hill.
During World War II, Christie became a special constable for the Harrow Road Police Station. His wife made frequent trips to Sheffield to visit her relatives leaving Christie free to continue visiting his prostitutes. He also had an affair with a woman working at the police station which lasted until he resigned in December 1943.
In August of 1943, Christie picked up 21-year-old Ruth Fuerst, a munitions worker and part-time prostitute, and brought her back to his apartment at Rillington Place. She would become his first victim when he impulsively strangled her during sex and buried her in the communal backyard garden.
His next victim was 32-year-old Muriel Eady who was suffering from bronchitis. He invited her over to his apartment claiming that he had a special inhaler which would cure her chest ailment. In actuality, the "inhaler" contained carbon monoxide which rendered her unconscious. He then strangled her while raping her and buried her alongside his first victim.
In the Spring of 1948, Timothy Evans and his wife Beryl moved into the top-floor apartment of 10 Rillington Place. The couple was expecting their first child and shortly after moving in a daughter Geraldine was born.
Evans had an IQ of 70, possessed a violent temper and his learning disabilities made it difficult for him to hold a steady job. One year later Beryl found her self burdened with an unwanted pregnancy and tried several times to rid herself of the baby.
Christie, claiming that he had some medical knowledge from his time spent as a constable during the war, offered to abort her baby. On the morning of November 8, 1948, Christie entered the Evans' apartment. Instead of performing the abortion he gassed Beryl and then strangled her with a cord while raping her. When Timothy returned home from work he was informed by Christie that the abortion had not gone well and she had died from septic poisoning from her previous abortion attempts. He convinced Timothy not to go to the police by instilling a fear in him that the police would blame him for his wife's death.
Christie offered to dispose of her body and make arrangements for a couple he knew to care for baby Geraldine while Timothy went to stay with his aunt in Wales.
Timothy's mother became concerned about the mysterious disappearance of Beryl and the baby. She confronted him and quickly exposed his lies.
On November 30, 1949, Timothy Evans walked into the police station at Merthyr Tyalfil, Wales and confessed to having disposed of his wife down a drain. He claimed that she had died after taking abortion pills and he got scared and disposed of her body in a sewer drain outside of the apartment.
Evans was re-questioned after the first search yielded no body. This time he implicated Christie. Fear of Christie had forced him to confess. A second search by the police uncovered the bodies of Beryl and baby Geraldine in the communal washroom in the backyard. A man's tie was still knotted around Geraldine's neck.
Evans went on trial at Old Bailey on January 11, 1950. The fact that he lacked the mental capabilities to come up with the elaborate attempt to cover up the murder of his wife and he was unaware that his daughter was also dead, never registered with the authorities.
He was charged with the murder of his baby and testimony included the murder of his wife. Christie was the chief witness for the Crown.
Evans lawyers never launched any investigation of their own and failed to provide any type of defense on his behalf.
He was found guilty and was hanged on March 9, 1950.
After the trial Christie fell into a deep depression. His criminal past had been exposed in court and he lost his job because of it. His wife Ethel was not pleased and made sure he knew it. She also taunted him about his continuing impotence.
December 12, 1952 was the last day anyone could recall seeing Ethel Christie. John told neighbours that she went to Sheffield to visit her relatives and that he would be joining her there shortly. He told her relatives that she was too ill to visit or write them. In fact he had strangled her and placed her body under the floor boards in the parlour.
When neighbours remarked about the foul odor, he sprinkled the house with strong disinfectant.
In need of funds, he pawned his wife's wedding ring and watch and sold almost all of his furniture except for a table, three chairs and a mattress.
On January 19, 1953, a pregnant prostitute named Rita Nelson caught Christie's eye. He lured her back to 10 Rillington place with a promise to assist her in aborting her baby. Once in the apartment he gassed her and then strangled her while raping her. He placed the body in an alcove behind a cupboard in the kitchen.
Christie forged his wife's signature on her bank account and emptied it.
His final two victims were both prostitutes, Kathleen Maloney and Hectorina McLennan. Both were gassed and strangled while being raped. Their bodies were stashed in the alcove along side Rita Nelson and then Christie wallpapered over the cupboard.
The smell from the apartment was becoming increasingly putrid. It was time to make a move. He illegally sublet his apartment to a young couple and absconded with the three months rent they had paid in advance. They were forced to move less than 24 hours later when the landlord notified them that Christie did not have the authority to rent to them.
While the flat was being renovated, the landlord allowed another tenant to use the kitchen. While he was tearing down wallpaper he discovered the concealed cupboard. When he opened the door who noticed what appeared to be a body. He closed the door and immediately notified the police.
When the police arrived and examined the cupboard they found not one but three bodies located in the alcove. They continued to search the flat and noticed loose floorboards in the parlor. The floorboards were removed and they began to dig. It did not take long for them to uncover the body of Christie's wife, Ethel. The police also discovered a man's suit, a man's tie fashioned like a noose, a container of potassium cyanide, and a tobacco tin that contained four clumps of pubic hair.
The communal garden was dug up and the bodies of Christie's first two victims were unearthed.
Christie was arrested 10 days later. During questioning he confessed to four of the murders. He claimed that his wife's murder was a mercy killing. He woke up and she was choking next to him and he strangled her to put her out her misery. He claimed self defense in the other three murders. The victims were all prostitutes who had tried to take advantage of him and attacked him first.
At one point he also confessed to the murder of Beryl Evans, claiming hers was also a mercy killing, but later recanted. He denied killing baby Geraldine.
John Christie stood trial at Old Bailey on June 22, 1953. His trial lasted four days and after 22 minutes he was found guilty of the murder of his wife. He was sentenced to death and hanged two weeks later on July 15, 1953 at Pentonville Prison in London.
His confession led to an inquiry of Timothy Evans' case in order to see if an innocent man had been put to death. Eleven days later the inquiry concluded that Evans had indeed murdered his wife and daughter leading to a backlash of public criticism siting that the inquiry was rushed and grossly inadequate.
Another inquiry conducted in 1968 concluded that Evans probably strangled his wife but not his daughter. As a result he was granted a posthumous pardon in 1966 in the death of his daughter.
To this date it is unlikely that the guilt or innocence of Timothy Evans will ever be definitively established.