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  • #16
    Hello Apricot

    The name of the young woman who worked at Harrow Road Police Station with whom Christie had the affair hasn't been named in any account of the case I have read. One wonders if she is still alive today! However, if she is, she probably wouldn't want her involvement with Christie to become public knowledge even today!!!

    In one article on the case I read, the woman with whom Christie was living in the 1930s and whom he assaulted with the cricket bat was named as a Maud Cole.

    Interestingly, the Brabin inquiry in 1965 was unable to trace Mr Robert Hookway, to whom Christie had sold his furniture in 1952 and had also bought Evans' furniture in 1949. Apparently, Ludovic Kennedy had been able to interview him for his book in the late 1950s or early 1960s. There appears to be some doubt as to when Christie and Mr Hookway actually met, although it seemed to be in 1949. It is uncertain whether Christie actually recommended that Evans should sell his furniture to Mr Hookway, or whether Evans found out about him for himself, although Christie was certainly on friendly terms with him after this. Possibly Mr Hookway could have shed some light on Christie's habits had he been available to the Brabin inquiry in 1965; indeed, one wonders whether he is still alive today, although I suppose this is highly unlikely.

    Another person in the case about whom not much seems to be known is Mr Charles Kitchener, who lived in the flat above Christie, but was in hospital at the time of the Evans' murders. It has been said that he was a retired railwayman and had lived alone at 10 Rillington Place since he had parted from his wife in the 1920s. He reportedly disliked both Evans and Christie, and considered that both of them were thieves, as he was always missing small items from his flat. As Christie had previous convictions for theft, perhaps he was responsible. Apparently, Mr Kicthener's eyesight became so bad that he was obliged to move out of 10 Rillington Place shortly aftet the Evans trial, although it seems that Ludovic Kennedy was also able tospeak to him in tha late 1950s or early 1960s. It is unknown if he was still alive at the time of the Brabin inquiry in 1965.

    SHERLOCK

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    • #17
      Hello Sherlock,

      Seems amazing, doesn't it, that the lady's name is still unknown, you're absolutely right, of course, it wouldn't have been something you would want common knowledge, It's possible she's still alive, I suppose and if she is, she must always worry that her secret will come out in to the open, even now. In this day and age I don't believe anyone would be able to keep their anonimity, there would always be somebody ready to sell your soul for the filthy lucre from the press!
      Re: Mr Kitchener, have I got this right? Isn't it assumed that Christie put Beryl's body in his flat ovenight?


      KR Angie

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      • #18
        Hello Apricot


        Yes, it is generally assumed that either Christie or Evans placed the bodies of Beryl and Geraldine in Mr Kitchener's flat prior to concealing them in the wash house.

        In the film version of 10 Rillington Place Christie is shown concealing the bodies there while his wife sits in the bedroom trying to blot out of her mind what her husband is doing. In actual fact, it has never been determined exactly what she did or did not know about her husband's activities at the time of the Evans murders, although it is at least possible that she did know or suspect something.

        Ethel Christie seems to be another character in the case about whom not all that much is known. As I mentioned earlier, a collection letters from her were found several years ago in a house in Sheffield which was once occupied by her sister, Lily Bartle. However, I think that these merely contained trivial items of day-to-day news and did not really bring any new information to light on the case.

        Interestingly, there was a televison programme on British serial killers several years ago which mentioned the Christie case. I can't remember the title of the programme, but a related book was published, written by Martin Fido; I think I borrowed this from a library some time ago. In the book, Fido actually quoted a couple of other neighbours who lived in Rillington Place at the time of the murders and who remembered Ethel and Reg Christie; I think they regarded them as a quiet couple who kept themselves to themselves. One of the neighbours was interviewed on the tv programme; I remember that she had a photograph in her front room of a group of Rillington Place residents standing in front of the brick wall at the foot of the street, beside number 10.
        This might have been taken before the Christies came to live in the street.

        On a trivial but interesting issue, I believe that Rillington Place was named after the village of Rillington in North Yorkshire; apparently a family called St Quinten owned the land on which the street was built back in the 1860s, and came originally from the village of Rillington. After the trial, the street was renamed Ruston Close after the village of Ruston Parva which is also in North Yorkshire. It was finally demolished in 1971, immediately after it had been used as a location for the feature film.

        I believe that there is still a street in Notting Hill named after the St Quinten family; it might be St Quinten Avenue.

        On eBay in recent years I have seen several possibly-spurious artifacts from the case on sale. One of these was a manhole cover from the top of the street, apparently not the one in front of number 10 where Christie claimed to have put the bodies of Beryl and Geraldine. The seller claimed to have obtained it shortly before the street was demolished; apparently it had been manufactured in the iron foundry whose chimney can be seen above the brick wall in photographs of Rillington Place, so it could possibly have been authentic.

        Another seller claimed to have the knob from the kitchen coal cupboard or alcove where Christie concealed the three bodies, while another claimed to have the actual front door key of the house; this may or may not have been the one in use when Christie lived there!!!


        SHERLOCK

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        • #19
          Who actually owned the #10 building? In the film, Christie seems to be acting as some sort of manager at the premises since they depict him showing the upper flat to the Evans family.
          This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

          Stan Reid

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          • #20
            Hello Sherlock,

            Good Grief, some people have an eye for the main chance, don't they? Ebay, indeed!
            I remember going to Ruston Close, my brother used to live in a flat in St Mark's Road, he told me that when no 10 was demolished, it was cordoned off and hoardings put up just in case anything else nasty was found.
            When you think of al the people involved in a high profile, or not so high profile, murder case, like Mr Kitchener, makes you wonder how they coped with the aftermath,I mean, how could he bear to live in that house knowng what he did? No stress councelling then.
            Going back to he demolition, I don't think I've imagined it, but think my brother also said that the bricks were taken away by lorry to be ground up to stop people keeping ghoulish soveniers, obviously didn't do the same with the door!! (Supposedly!)

            KR Angie

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            • #21
              I know that 25 Cromwell Street was ground up but it's the first time I've heard it about 10 Rillington Place.

              To this day in Bartle Close there is no #10. It goes from 9 to 11, with a gap and a steep drop where 10 should be, though it's not in fact even on the actual location of 10 Rillington Place, which was some yards to the SW of there, I understand.

              One of Ethel Christie's letters turned up on the Murder Auction site a year ago. I was going to possibly buy it but the price tag was over 200, which is more than I would pay for original documents signed by the actual criminals. It sold, nevertheless.

              A few years back, some guy put up some original Christie documents on eBay in shoddy condition. Receipts and the like. He withdrew the items and didn't reply to any e-mails. However, about four years ago someone sold a circa 1930 image of Christie in a group of a lodge of some kind of Masonic order. I didn't win it but the winner did send me a good quality jpeg detail of the part of the image with Christie in it. Odd to see him as a younger man (still looking middle-aged, nevertheless).

              I still don't have a single rare Christie item in my collection. It's probably my #1 want at present.

              PHILIP
              Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd.

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              • #22
                Does anyone know if The Black Museum is still open and if the Christie related items are still in it?
                This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

                Stan Reid

                Comment


                • #23
                  The Black Museum hasn't been open to the public for many decades. I understand it still exists but is not referred to a such anymore. Maybe SPE will have better clarification than I. I know that Cowpat Cornwell did some kind of book launch there last year which was only admissable by invites that cost over 100 each.

                  PHILIP
                  Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    I'm not quite sure who owned 10 Rillington Place prior to 1950, although Ludovic Kennedy states that the landlord's agents were Messrs Martin East of 19 Gerrard Street, Soho. However, I do recollect seeing a rent book for the house being advertised on eBay a couple of years or so ago; I'm not sure if it actually belonged to Christie himself or to another tenant. If I remember correctly, this rent book stated that the actual owner of number 10
                    and another house in the street was a company director.

                    It is quite possible that Christie would have shown any prospective tenants around the house, as is seen in the feature film. Ludovic Kennedy states that he usually answered the front door whether the caller had come to see him or not, and was generally quite an interfering and inquisitive individual.

                    In August 1950 10 Rillington Place was purchased by a Mr Charles Brown from Jamaica, who filled it with tenants from his own country; I think I read that he also worked as a hotel comissionaire at the time. I also read in another book, which I think was by a policeman who worked in the Notting Hill area, that in the early 1960s number 10 was owned by a man named "Charlie Brown" who worked as a doorman for a club in Kingly Street, Soho, and who used the house as an illegal drinking club. I am not certain if this was the same Charles Brown who bought the house in 1952, but it may well have been.

                    SHERLOCK

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                    • #25
                      I've already posed this question on another thread but I'll repeat it here as I think it may be of interest:-

                      If Christie had been tried under the terms of the Homicide Act of 1957, would he still have been executed if found guilty?

                      My understanding is that if he had been tried solely for the murder of his wife as he was in 1953 he would not have been subject to the death penalty as he did not kill her with a firearm or kill her in the furtherance of theft - unless his forging her signature to cash in her savings could be counted in this regard.

                      On the other hand, if he had been tried for two or more of the murders, he could have received the death penalty as the 1957 act prescribed hanging for two murders committed on different occasions.

                      Similarly, if Evans had been tried for the murder of Beryl alone after 1957 he would not have been executed, but if he had been tried for the murders of both Beryl and Geraldine he would still have been hanged as he would then have committed two murders on seperate occasions.

                      I also belive that prior to the 1957 act it was usual for a person to be tried for only one murder at a time in England and Wales; this was why Christie was only tried for the murder of his wife.

                      Did the 1957 act then provide for a person to be convicted of two or more murders at a single trial?

                      Could anyone clarify these points?

                      SHERLOCK

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        I suspect that the practice of trying for only one murder was a way to skirt the double jeopardy prohibition. That is, should the person be found innocent for one murder, you can retry them on one of the other counts. You couldn't do that if you shoot your wad with all the victims in one case. There is the argument though that a jury is more likely to convict if there are multiple victims so that strategy might not always be the best. That's the way it works here in the States now anyway.

                        Regarding the erosion of the double jeopardy prohibition here, there are also the tactic of retrying the suspect for "violating the murder victim's civil rights" or bringing them to civil court for "being responsible for the person's death".
                        This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

                        Stan Reid

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Interestingly, I believe that the Homicide Act of 1957 never applied in Northern Ireland, which although part of the United Kingdom had its own parliament until the early 1970s. Here, all murders continued to be punishable by the death penalty and there was no distinction between capital and non-capital murder. I believe the last execution in Northern Ireland took place around 1961.

                          On the other hand, the Homicide Act of 1957 also applied in Scotland, which although it had and continues to have its own distinct legal system, it did not at that time have a parliament of its own, although it now does. The last execution in Scotland took place in 1963 for a murder using firearms.

                          I suppose that if Christie had been found guilty but insane at his trial for the murder of his wife at the Old Bailey in 1953 it would have precluded him being tried for his other murders as he would then have been considered unfit to plead. His attorney, Derek Curtis-Bennett, tried to convince the jury that he was insane when he killed Ethel, and apparently Christie himself rather liked the idea of being sent to Broadmoor, the institution for the criminally insane, as he had been told that it was rather nice there!!!

                          Unfortunately for him, he never made it!!!

                          SHERLOCK

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Christie's method of rendering his victims unconscious with carbon monoxide gas also raises certain questions. I have in front of me a copy of Medical and Scientific Investigations in the Christie case by Francis Camps from which I have taken the following information.

                            Christie claimed to have rendered Muriel Eady unconscious by persuading her to inhale coal gas through a glass jar containing scented water of some kind to mask the smell of the gas - according to Christie, he had told Eady that this was a cure for her catarrh. Doctor Camps concedes that this method of adminstering the gas was at least possible, although the victim would have to be incurious or very gullible.

                            On the other hand, in his third statement he claimed to have used a somewhat different method on the three women whose bodies were found in the kitchen:-

                            I gassed the three women whose bodies were found in the alcove by getting them to sit in the deck-chair in the kitchen between the table and the door. There is a gas pipe on the wall next to the window, that had at one time been used for a gas bracket. The pipe had been plugged. I took the plug out and pushed a piece of rubber tubing over the pipe and let it hang down nearly to the floor. There was no tap on it so I put a kink in the tube with a bulldog clip to stop the gas escaping. When they sat in the deck-chair with the tube behind them I just took the clip off and let the fumes rise from the back of the deck-chair. When they started getting overcome that's when I must have strangled them.


                            However, Camps has difficulty with this statement for the following reasons:-

                            1) How much would they notice?

                            Two phenomena are always associated with the escape of coal-gas - a smell and a noise (hissing), and however carefully this operation had been done the women ought to have noticed the smell for there was no suggestion of a loss of smell by any of them. There is the possibility that they were persuaded to inhale the gas on some pretext or other...



                            2) How long would they take to be overcome?

                            This would depend entirely upon the exact conditions, information about which is unfortunately not available. It would undoubtedly have taken an appreciable length of time under the conditions he describes - several minutes at least - and during this time he too would be at some risk if resting and even more so if he indulged in any activity whilst he was in the room.

                            3) Would Christie also have been overcome if they were?

                            It seems highly improbable that Christie would not also have been affected unless he was in some air current, but this would depend on the gas flow. When asked why he was not overcome he replied that the window was open. Certainly his suggestion about the window is not very satisfactory but depends upon his exact position, which is not known. Apart from this if the window was open it seems probable that the air changes might have been too many to have allowed an adequate concentration to have built up in the air to produce the effect on the victims, the source of supply being some distance from them. Perhaps the most significant point is that if by some remarkable chance he was in an air current on one occasion it is unlikely that it could happen three times.


                            On the other hand, Camps has this to say on the case of Muriel Eady:-

                            The Skeleton Cases (Fuerst and Eady

                            The sole basis for any suggestion of gas in these cases is in Christie's statement in which he described his somewhat elaborate method of gassing Eady (later he said he wasn't sure as it might have been Fuerst). He stated that the woman had catarrh and he suggested an inhalant which he prepared by taking a jar with a screw cap and putting into it hot water and friar's balsam. He introduced a tube through the lid which he connected up wit the gas supply and another through which she inhaled, thereby making the friar's balsam mask the smell of the gas. This seems a very cumbersome method but has the merits of being at least possible, and a jar was found but without the top which would have been the only part of interest. Therefore admittedly it could have been done, but would have postulated a perosn of weak intellect who allowed it to be carried out without the curiosity of wondering what it was all about. Further than this it is impossible to comment as there are no reliable data available.


                            In view of Doctor Camps' observations, it seems rather more likely that Christie gassed his last three victims, Rita Nelson, Kathleen Maloney and Hectorina MacLennan, in a similar way to that used on Muriel Eady, ie by inducing them to inhale the gas orally. Possibly he could have claimed that this would in some way act as a sexual stimulant, or it is even possible that he gassed Rita Nelson on the pretext of carrying out an abortion, as she was six months' pregnant at the time, although the post-mortem showed no evidence of interference with the pregnancy.

                            One wonders why Christie claimed to have used the much more dangerous method of introducing carbon monoxide into the room? Could it have been to help his defence of insanity in some way?

                            SHERLOCK

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                            • #29
                              We've had natural gas here since the 1930s, so what does coal gas smell like? Natural gas has no noticeable smell so they add a chemical to make it stink for safety reasons.
                              This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

                              Stan Reid

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what coal gas does smell like, but I think that natural gas didn't come into general use in the United Kingdom until the early 1970s.

                                SHERLOCK

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