By October 1981, job centre worker and former police officer Dennis Nilsen had got really good at killing.And getting away with it.
His murder spree began in winter 1978. Within three years he’d butchered around 12 men in his house, 195 Melrose Avenue, Muswell Hill, north west London.He preyed on young, homeless gay men and rent boys whom he didn’t think would be missed, luring them to his home with the promise of food or alcohol.
After strangling and drowning his victims, he’d keep their bodies in his home for months.He later admitted having sex with the corpses, talking to them, watching telly lying beside them.When the smell got too much, he’d chop them up and burn them on a bonfire in his garden.
Only, on 5 October 1981, Nilsen moved to Flat 23D Cranley Gardens, north London. And his new attic flat posed a problem – no garden.
So, once he’d slaughtered his victims, he boiled the skin off the bones. Then he’d flush flesh, guts and smaller body parts down the toilet, hiding larger bones under floorboards and inside cupboards. By February 1983 he’d killed three more young men.
But his new neighbours complained about a stench, and a drainage company investigated. They discovered rotting flesh blocking drains and called police. When arrested, Nilsen calmly confessed he’d killed ‘15 or 16 since 1978’. Searching his flat, remains were found in a wardrobe, tea chest and bathroom drawer, with more at his Melrose Avenue address.