The UK’s Most Brutal Serial Killers
In a country that spawned the likes of Jack the Ripper, it is hard to earn the title of one of Britain’s most brutal and notorious serial killers, but Dennis Nilsen can give old Red Jack a run for his money!
Nilsen was one of the United Kingdom’s most prolific and depraved serial killers, and he was caught not through the investigative process of Scotland Yard but by a local plumber!
It was Nilsen himself who wrote a letter to his estate agents complaining that the drains outside his home were blocked. He explained the situation was intolerable for both himself and the other tenants at the property in Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill in north London.
Secretly, Nilsen was fully aware of the sickening reason that the drain was blocked – and ultimately, the complaint would be his downfall.
When Nilsen and the other tenants voiced their frustrations about the blocked drain and “awful smell,” the landlord sent clearage company Dyno-Rod to visit the property. As he arrived at the idyllic location in leafy Muswell Hill, nothing could have prepared plumber Michael Cattran for what he would discover.
Upon opening the drain cover, mortified Cattran discovered a “meat-like” substance being eaten by rats and multiple small bones.
At this point, he thought tenants had been throwing chicken bones down the drains; he was blissfully unaware that he was staring at the human remains of Nilsen’s victims!
Suspecting something was amiss when more “meat” was pulled from the drains, Cattran’s supervisor contacted the police. They took a sample, and forensics confirmed the “meat” was human! The clogged drain led directly back to Nilsen’s apartment.
Nilsen was met on the evening of February 9, 1983, by Detective Chief Inspector Jay, who informed him that they wished to question him in relation to the human remains that had been discovered in the drains. On entering the flat, Jay noticed the pervasive foul odor and asked Nilsen what it was, at which point he calmly confessed that what they were looking for was stored in bags around the flat, which included two dismembered heads and other larger body parts. Upon his arrest, he immediately provided exhaustive details about his killing spree, admitting to killing 15 young men, despite receiving a legal caution. He also admitted to the attempted murder of seven others, although he could name only four of them. At no point did he show any remorse and appeared eager to assist the police with amassing evidence against him, even taking them to his old address to point out specific disposal details.
He lured his victims to two homes in North London, where they were strangled and drowned. Nilsen hid the dead bodies of his victims under the floorboards of his homes and in cupboards but realized he had to get rid of them because of the maggots and foul stench.
While living at his home in Cricklewood, Nilsen dissected the bodies of his victims before burning them on a bonfire in the waste ground behind his flat. But with nowhere to do this at his Muswell Hill abode, he resorted to dismembering his next three victims and boiling body parts in his kitchen so the flesh would dissolve.
The sick necrophiliac then tried to dispose of the internal organs, flesh, and small bones of the men he killed by flushing them down the toilet. This is what fouled the drains as they became clogged with bits of rotting corpses – the “meat wads” discovered by the plumbers that eventually lead to his arrest!
The judge sentenced Dennis Nilsen to life in prison without eligibility for parole for at least 25 years. He died at 72 from a stroke while still incarcerated.