dennis-nilsen

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Similarities Between Dennis Nilsen and Jeffrey Dahmer

• Both were gay serial killers

• Both frequented gay bars

• Both were in the army. Dahmer was a combat medic and Nilsen was a cook.

• Both had alcohol problems

• Both were in denial of their homosexuality. Nilsen tried to reassure himself that he was bisexual and dated a woman to prove this. Dahmer dated a woman as well, and his murders were seen as a way to rid himself of his homosexuality.

• Both killed because they wanted companions that would not leave them

• Both craved control over their victims

• Both were fond of animals. Dahmer had a dog and a cat as a child and fish as an adult, and was horrified after seeing a classmate run over a dog with his car. Nilsen had pet pigeons as a child and was extremely upset when a vandal killed them. As an adult, Nilsen had a dog that eventually became his only companion. 

• Both performed sexual acts on corpses

• Both cooked parts of their victims

• Both had close relationships with one of their grandparents. Dahmer was close to his grandmother and Nilsen was close to his grandfather.

• Both stored their victims’ bodies in their apartments and had neighbors that became suspicious of the smell emitting from their homes

• Both were almost caught by the police. Dahmer was almost caught when victim Konerak Sinthomphone was able to escape his apartment and run into two girls who called the police. Dahmer was able to convince the police that they were lovers just having a disagreement.  One of Nilsen’s victims woke up while being strangled and called the police, but the police did nothing, thinking it was a domestic disagreement as well.

• Both depersonalized their victims

• Both were cooperative with police

• Both appeared distant to those around them

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Pictured above are serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer and Dennis Nilsen.

Due to their similar modus operandi, Nilsen has often been described as the British Jeffrey Dahmer. Both would lure young men they met - usually at gay bars - to their flats, where they then strangled their victims after they passed out from drinking (Nilsen) or drinking and sleeping pills (Dahmer). After their victims were dead, they would cuddle them, share the bed with them, and engage in sexual acts with them; keeping them for several days before disposing of the bodies. While Nilsen only dismembered the bodies, because it was easier to get rid of them that way, Dahmer took pictures during the dismemberment, kept the skulls and even the full skeletons in two cases, and ate certain organs and muscles.

Unlike most other serial killers, neither Dahmer nor Nilsen tortured animals. The clips above show Jeffrey Dahmer as a child kissing his dog Frisky and as an adult kissing his grandmother’s cat, and Dennis Nilsen kissing and playing with his dog Bleep.

I try to smile
Despite the vengeance looking at me,
Covered in your tomato paste,
A man of many parts
I try to forget.
Even the person of your passing
Lingers on.
More problems now
With all your bits and pieces.
I try to run,
And pinioned to this spot
In acres full of you,
Of dust and bones.
I try to weep,
With you looming large in my cell,
Of problems to the grave.
I try, I try
To unravel enigmas,
And each way I turn
I’m still holding you.
I try to smile
But you’re not smiling now.
In April death is dead
And all the new life lives
Upon our garbled inquest.

Poem by serial killer Dennis Nilsen in which he recalls the passing of Stephen Sinclair, his last victim. Nilsen invited Sinclair to his home at Cranley Gardens and strangled him to death when he passed out after consuming alcohol and injecting heroin.

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The Cranley garden drains where the human remains of Dennis Nilsen’s victims were discovered. Nilsen, an active serial killer, had been murdering men in his apartment and disposing of the bodies by slowly stripping and boiling flesh from the bones and flushing these remains down the toilets. Understandably this lead to the plumbing of his apartment building becoming blocked, and his crimes were uncovered when the plumber recognised the unusual biological deposits within the sewer system.

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Letter serial killer Dennis Nilsen wrote to Brian Masters about Jeffrey Dahmer.

“The paradox is that Dahmer cannot hate his victims because his objective is achieved by exercising his will to sexual power, and potency. The need is “love” for him, and death for the hapless victim. Dahmer is faced to unnaturally seek to accede to the demands of his natural instinctive drive. He is perhaps partially aware that his “love” is really for him, or a created entity within his deranged personality.”


taken from Vanity Fair magazine November 1991

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Serial killer addresses

David Berkowitz #78A1976
Sullivan Correctional Facility
Box 116 Riverside Drive
Fallsburg, NY 12733

Edmund Kemper #B52453
California Medical Facility
1600 California Drive
P.O. Box 2000
Vacaville, CA 95696-2000

Charles Manson #B33920/4A 4R-23
P. O. Box 3476
Corcoran, CA 93212

Gary L. Ridgway , DOC 866218
Washington State Penitentiary
1313 North 13th Avenue
Walla Walla, WA 99362

Ian Brady
Ashworth Hospital
Liverpool
L51 1HW
England

Dennis Nilsen
B63006
HRP Whitemour
Longhill Road
March Cambridgeshire
England

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Police photographs that were taken at Dennis Nilsen’s flat at 23D Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill, London, in February 1983. On February 8th, tenants of Cranley Gardens had complained that the drains of the apartment complex were blocked, which led to a Dyno-rod employee discovering organic, flesh-like material which was clogging the drains.

Pictured above is Nilsen’s kitchen with the sink in which Nilsen drowned some of his victims, as well as some of the bin-bags he hid in a bedroom closet, containing human limbs and internal organs.

Nilsen, who has been dubbed “the British Jeffrey Dahmer”, was found to have murdered at least 15 young men between 1978 and 1983.

Serial killer voices
Serial killer voices

Some more audio clips of serial killers. Part 1

Ordered by date of apprehension: Rodney Alcala (joking on The Dating Game in 1978), Dennis Nilsen (about dismembering corpses to avoid the bad smell that would emerge in summer), Ottis Toole (about his love for fire, power and destruction + his creepy laugh), Henry Lee Lucas (about his methods of killing), Paul Bernardo (rapping), Karla Homolka (about giving in to Paul’s wish to kill), Gary Ridgway (about one victim, who he picked up and murdered while his son was in the car).

At the height of his murders, Dennis Nilsen found it difficult to dispose of the remains and had suitcases full of human organs stored in his wardrobe, and plastic bags with human remains under the floorboards. Neighbours had begun to notice the smell. When he had tried to dispose of the bodies by flushing them down the toilet, he completely blocked the sewerage of his house.

When a company was called to unblock the sewer system, they first found the drain to be packed with a flesh-like substance. The drain inspector then called his supervisor, but no assessment was made until the next day, by which time the drain had been cleared. This aroused the suspicions of the drain inspector and his supervisor, who immediately called the police. Upon closer inspection, some small bones and what looked like chicken flesh were found in a pipe leading off from the drain; these were later discovered to be of human origin.

As police entered Nilsen’s residence, they explained that they had come to inquire about his drains. He calmly asked why the police would be so interested in his drains so the officer told him they were filled with human remains. “Good grief, how awful!” was Nilsen’s reply.

After a while, Nilsen confessed to a string of murders and that the other body parts were in two plastic bags in his wardrobe. He was then arrested and cautioned on suspicion of murder and taken to the police station.  

Dennis the Heinous

In the late seventies and early eighties, a stalker prowled the streets and bars of London, in search of young, vulnerable men and boys. Lured back to his flat with the promise of food, alcohol and shelter, once his victims settled in comfortably the killer would strike, strangling the young men to death before masturbating over their carefully positioned bodies.

For those familiar with true crime, Dennis Nilson’s shocking crimes bear eerily similar to USA killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s, minus the cannibalism. On the outside Dennis Nilson appeared a non descriptive, bespectacled and slim man, hardly the type to be to feel much danger about going home with. But on the inside he was a monster, sexually obsessed with enjoying the immobilized bodies of his dead victims.

Dennis Nilson. Police mugshot.

In true crime popular literature and media, Dennis is commonly referred to as the ‘Company Killer’, described as a lonely man who killed then molested the dead bodies of young men as he didn’t want them to leave him. But this type of label downplays the sick brutality of his crimes. Three of Dennis’s victims were teenagers, and all of his victims were sexually molested after death, except for one, who Dennis claimed to have killed because the man 'annoyed him’ and had followed him home after a nights drinking.

Dennis admitted to masturbating over fantasies of immobilized men for years prior to the murders and had even put make up on himself to appear dead and masturbated over his own reflection. These actions point towards sexual motivation being the primary factor. Dennis might, as he claims, have 'gently’ bathed the bodies after killing his victims, but let’s not forget he not only murdered these young men and violated their dead bodies, but also dismembered, chopped up and disposed of their remains in bonfires and down his sink.

Dennis specifically targeted attractive young males who’d fallen on hard times and led somewhat transient lifestyles. By killing these men Dennis could not only live out his sick fantasies, but also have power and control over the type of male he perhaps felt in ordinary life was unobtainable to him.

Victims. Kenneth Okenden, Billy Sutherland and Stephen Holmes.

One of the biggest tragedy of the case is that some of the victims have never been identified In a time when open homosexuality could still lead to significant social ostracization, this social climate could have played a factor in the transient lifestyle some of Dennis’s victims lead, making these men vulnerable to this dangerous predator. Paul Nobbs, aged 19, when attacked by Dennis, felt the police would have written it off as a domestic squabble, common at the time if a gay man was assaulted by another gay male and tried to report the crime. Another victim, Douglas Stewart, who was not gay,  did try report Dennis to the police, but claims the police never contacted him back.

Dennis Nilson’s former house on Melrose Avenue, Cricklewood.

I began my journey by taking the tube and bus to Muswell Hill in North London. The white house on Melrose Avenue, Cricklewood where Dennis’s first eight murders occurred still stands today. A sunny mid autumn afternoon, I could hear the shouts of children playing in the large park nearby, giving the street a nice family feel. I wondered how Dennis’s victims might have felt as he lead them towards the tall white house, did they feel any slight sense of apprehension, the way most people would before going to a strangers house? Perhaps alcohol or drugs blurred their inhibitions and they’d been thinking only of a meal, drinks and a warm bed to sleep.

Soho, London, 1970′s.

The second part of my trip was to visit Piccadilly circus, Soho and Charring Cross Road, all spots were Denis had cruised for and picked up victims. After a quick visit to Piccadilly circus, I headed down the bustling streets of Soho (these days more hipster swagger than greasy spoon charm), towards the Golden Lion Pub. Dennis had bought one of his victims a hamburger at an Oxford St McDonald’s before taking him back to his place. So my next stop was to head towards the Oxford St McDonald’s near Shaftesbury St to buy a hamburger.

Soho, London. 2016.

Taking the tube from the Leicester Station, arriving at Cranley Gardens, the sweet smell of fresh air hit my nose as I walked up the hill.The walk to the house from the tube station took about 15 minutes, but would have been shorter if I hadn’t needed to stop and ask for directions. The friendly people I asked all seemed to have a look of faint amusement, as if the whereabouts of this particular address was a common query.

Flat 23D, Cranley Gardens. Dennis Nilson’s former flat is on the top floor of the white building on the left.

Reaching the notorious former murder flat, I stood outside the Victorian/Tudor style white building. Compared to the other neatly kept sections, the property had a slightly scruffy look to it. Standing outside and thinking of the horrors committed there, it was a bit hard not to imagine a disgusting smell of rotting corpses wafting out.

Dennis Nilson’s kitchen and living area of his former flat at Cranley Gardens.

It was the foul stench and body parts clogging up drain pipes that became Dennis’s downfall. After neighbors complained about the smell and had trouble flushing their toilets, a plumber was brought in, unable to fix the job himself, he called in a specialist company for unblocking drains. The specialist, recognizing the sludge as dissolved body parts, called the police. Confronted by police, Dennis confessed and remains imprisoned for his crimes, serving a full life sentence with no possibility of release.

List of Dennis Nilson’s known victims:

1978.              

Stephen Dean Holmes (Aged 14)

1979.              

Andrew Ho - (Young student from Hong Kong) Attempted murder, escaped.

Kenneth Ockenden (Aged 26)

1980.              

Martyn Duffy (Aged 16)

William 'Billy’ Sutherland (Aged 27)

Unidentified male prostitute from the Philippines or Thailand

Unidentified young Irish man Dennis met at a bar

Unidentified young man, Dennis Nilson unable to recall further details

Douglas Stewart. - Attempted murder, escaped.

Unidentified young man Dennis found sleeping in a Charing Cross doorway

1981.              

Unidentified young Scottish man met at the Golden Lion pub in Soho

Unidentified young man, also from Scotland

Unidentified young British skinhead man Dennis met in Piccadilly Circus

Malcolm Barlow (Aged 24)

Paul Nobbs (Aged 19 years at time of attack) - Attempted murder, escaped.

Toshimitsu Ozawa (aged ??)

John Howlett (Aged 23)

Carl Stotter (Aged 21 at time of attack) - Attempted murder, escaped.

1982.                

Graham Allan (Aged 27)

1983.                

Steven Sinclair (Aged 20 years).


Sources of information:

Cawthorne Nigel (2014) Bodies in the Back Garden: True Stories of Brutal Murders Close to Home. London. John Blake Publishing.

Masters, Brian (1995) Killing for Company. United Kingdom. Arrow Books.

Wilson, David (2007) Serial Killers Hunting Britons and their Victims. 1960 - 2006. Winchester. Waterside Press.

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It may be surprising, but many serial killers were once soldiers serving their country in the armed forces. There are a number of theories as to why there is such a strong correlation between military personnel and those warped enough to commit such heinous crimes, and the reasons vary.

1) David Berkowitz- After a rocky childhood in an adoptive family, the Son of Sam killer decided to join the US army in 1971. He served in Korea and was praised for his excellent shooting skills, something that would have a chilling connection to his later crimes. He was honorably discharged three years later and spent his his free time locating his birth mother, which, according to his prison psychiatrist, caused the “primary crisis” in his life that triggered the spate of shootings.

2) Jeffrey Dahmer- Unable to uphold a steady job, Dahmer’s parents became fed up with him lazing around and doing nothing so they encouraged him to enlist in the US army. He initially responded well to training and a sense of order in his life, gaining a great deal of athleticism and confidence. However, Dahmer began to become alcoholic and would drink until he passed out, forcing his superiors to discharge him.

3) Dean Corll- Although he looked the part, The Candyman reportedly hated his time in the military and applied for a hardship discharge on the grounds that he was needed within his family’s business (A candy store). After he left, Corll told some of his closest friends that he had experienced homosexual feelings for the first time while in the army, and it was where he had his first homosexual experience. According to those closest to him, the army changed him and he would act differently around young teenage boys. He would later go on to torture and kill such teens.

4) Dennis Nilsen- The Kindly Killer got good grades all throughout school but unemployment was at an all time low and he was stuck for work. After working a dead-end job in a canning factory, Nilsen quit and announced that he was going to join the army, where he got a job as a chef. He excelled at this, and described his time in the military as the “happiest of his life”. Aware that he was gay, he described never showering with fellow soldiers because he feared he would develop an erection. Like Dahmer, he began drinking excessively to mask his fantasies and described moments where he pretended to be passed out drunk in the hope that one of his colleagues would take advantage of him. Nilsen’s career was vastly successful, spanning over 11 years; He even cooked for the Queen on one occasion.