Dennis Nilsen, 33, met the young man in the pub, late in 1978, and invited him home, to 195 Melrose Avenue in London. They continued to drink and eventually crawled into bed together to sleep. Nilsen woke up at dawn and realized that his new friend was now going to leave. He ran his hand over his bedmate’s body, becoming aroused. His heart pounded and he began to sweat.
He watched the young man sleep and looked over at the pile of clothing they had both discarded. He spotted his tie, so he got out of bed to retrieve it.
“I raised myself and slipped it on under his neck,” Nilsen wrote four years later. “I quickly straddled him and pulled tight for all I was worth. His body came alive immediately. We struggled off the bed onto the floor.”
Nilsen tightened his grip, not about to let go and lose this battle to the death. His victim pushed himself with his feet, with Nilsen on top of him, along the carpet. When he came up against the wall, he lay there and grew limp, giving up. Nilsen relaxed, but realized the man was not yet dead, only unconscious. He ran into the kitchen and filled a plastic bucket full of water in order to drown the man. Nilsen lifted him onto some chairs, draping his head back, and pushed it into the bucket. The man did not struggle, although water splashed all over the carpet.
“After a few minutes,” Nilsen recalled, “the bubbles stopped coming. I lifted him up and sat him on the armchair. The water was dripping from his short, brown curly hair.”
He had just killed a man and did not even recall his name.
Nilsen sat there shaking, barely cognizant of what he had done and what he now faced as a result. He made himself a cup of coffee and smoked several cigarettes, trying to think what to do. His black-and-white dog, Bleep, came in from the garden and sniffed at the corpse in the chair. He ran the dog off and then sat down in shock. He removed the tie from the dead man’s neck and just stared at him. Then he got up, put a towel over the window, and hoisted the corpse onto his shoulders to carry it into the bathroom.
Gently, Nilsen put him into the tub, ran water, and washed the man’s hair. “He was very limp and floppy.” He struggled to get him out of the tub and dry him off. Then he took him back into the other room and put him in the bed. His new friend was not going to leave him now.
He ran his hand over the still-warm flesh, noticing the slight discoloration of his lips and face. He pulled the bedclothes over him and sat on the bed, trying to think.
“It was the beginning of the end of my life as I had known it,” Nilsen wrote. “I had started down the avenue of death and possession of a new kind of flat-mate.”
Rather than being appalled by the sight of a corpse, he thought it quite beautiful. He did not really know why he had killed the young man. He just had not wanted him to leave. He had spent Christmas alone and did not want to do the same for New Year’s. Now he had someone to spend it with.
Later that day he went to a hardware store to buy an electric knife and a large pot, but he could not bring himself to cut the body up this way. Instead, he opened some new underwear and dressed the body. Then Nilsen took a bath.
That’s when he decided to try to have sex with the corpse. He got into bed, but could not sustain the arousal he had felt moments earlier, so he pulled the body off the bed and laid it on the floor. He used a curtain to cover it. He got into the bed and fell asleep.
Later he got up, made dinner and watched television with the body still lying there on the floor not far away.
Finally he knew he needed to do something. He pried loose some floorboards and tried to shove the body into the space, but rigor mortis had set in, preventing him from maneuvering. He stood the body against the wall, deciding to wait until the stiffness passed.