Robert Napper, the man who killed young mother Rachel Nickell, more than 16 years ago, may also be responsible for a string of attacks and murders throughout the 1990s. He faces questioning over the murder of at least three other women whose brutal deaths bear a striking resemblance to the killing of Rachel Nickell.
Robert Clive Napper was born in February 1966, the oldest of four children. He was brought up in a violent household and was abused by a family friend who was jailed for the offense. His father Brian, a driving instructor, emigrated when his son was 12, leaving Napper’s mother to bring the family up alone. As a child he was diagnosed as having a “highly toxic mixture” of paranoid schizophrenia and Aspergers’ syndrome and received psychiatric counseling for six years.
All three Robert Napper’s victims were repeatedly stabbed and left for dead within a year of Miss Nickell, who was knifed 49 times by Napper in front of her son Alex. The unsolved murders have tormented police for the past 18 years who, despite arresting several suspects, have never tracked down who was responsible. Officers will now visit Napper at Broadmoor – where he has been detained indefinitely. It is likely they will question him about the deaths of Claire Tiltman, 16, Penny Bell, 43, and 47-year-old Jean Bradley.
Napper has been held at Broadmoor mental hospital since 1995 after admitting killing 27-year-old Samantha Bisset and her four-year-old daughter Jazmine the year before. It is feared he could be linked to as many as 106 rapes and sexual offenses on 86 victims.
Professor Laurence Alison and Marie Eyre, co-authors of an upcoming book on Napper, claim that it is difficult to pinpoint the psychological mechanism that can explain such a hatred of young women. Napper is an example of the psychoanalytical ideas of what Freud called the sex and death instincts, dualities that are constantly in tension, generating conflict and the potential for aggression directed at ourselves (masochism), as well as at others (sadism), at the points in our lives where birth and death and sex and violence combine.
He was obsessed with knives and – coupled with impotence – these constituted the most consistent feature of his crimes. Knives were used frequently.The fact he targeted mothers who had recently had children combines sex and death symbolism and perhaps speaks volumes about his views of his own childhood and his own mother. It enraged him to see a mother as a sexual, desirous partner for an adult man…