Tuesday, December 12, 2006


"S" calls and wants an escort for her Christmas shopping this evening. I pick her up on my way home from work, park at home (on the edge of the red light district) and we wander into town.

The sense of fear is palpable - a sort of white portacabin with police markings has been set up on the corner of London Road. Beside it is a sort of awning with a big television camera and a few bright lights. Next to that is a van with a satellite dish on the roof. A couple of police cars are parked nearby and the policemen and women look tired and stressed.

Along London road we see a couple of police cars and no street girls at all. "S" wants to check out Handford Road so we take a detour and find that empty too - but for the police car parked at the crossroads further down. The few women we see are all accompanied.

In the town centre it's much quieter than usual which makes the shopping less painful. "S" is upset by the murders - she went to school with one of the missing girls, whom she remembers as normal if a little badly behaved and easily distracted.

One of the oddest facts of the case is that the police seem unwilling to reveal or unable (!) to discover the cause of death of the first two victims, Gemma and Tania. A story yesterday speculated that they had perhaps been poisoned. If so, that's really bizarre, and would surely indicate the murderer is someone with real expertise. If the police are being truthful in saying that there were no signs of a struggle then the murderer is managing to give them some kind of drug in a fatal dose without the victims detecting it. Only someone like a doctor, a nurse, a medical orderly, or perhaps a chemist or maybe (just maybe) someone with access to animal poisons could accomplish that.

There again, the third victim was strangled, so maybe (urgh) the first two bodies had simply been submerged in the stream too long and decomposed too much to reveal the cause of death.

Psychological profiling is a very inexact science, and only the police have all the facts, as it's routine to withhold certain types of information in all murder cases, if only to weed out the sad sacks who always 'confess' to crimes they didn't do.

Based on what I've read and heard, here's my best guess:

  • Male
  • Local, or once lived for many years in Ipswich or the surrounding area
  • Driver
  • Has visited prostitutes in the past
  • A charming 'nice man' who is able to conceal his excitement at having found another victim. (He's persuaded three fairly experienced street girls to get into his car at a time when two of their colleagues had been found dead). In fact he may well be a 'regular.'
  • Married or in a long-term relationship and 'fits in' to the local community - doesn't fit the 'quiet loner' stereotype. His wife or partner may have her suspicions but doesn't know of his killings.
  • Hates women, and especially hates prostitutes for some reason.
  • Ordinary looks, probably on the ugly side
  • Rich fantasy life
  • Impotent (none of the evidence so far suggests any of the victims were sexually assaulted)
  • Has some find of past criminal record for something like flashing, or possibly assault or 'wife beating.'
  • On a micro level he's well organised and resourceful, on the macro level he's killed five women in less than 40 days, and probably three women in less than a week - in other words he's completely out of control.
  • If he does poison his victims, then he's learned how to do that, which suggests someone intelligent and experienced with poisons or drugs.
  • At least three of the victims have been short and slim (Gemma was very thin) - perhaps he likes 'children?'

Not much use really is it?!?

The best the police can hope for is lucky break. For instance Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, was finally arrested after he was stopped for riding a bike without lights, and became nervous when questioned.

After the shops I drive "S" to her home and we watched the news together. When I returned home just now the streets were cold and deserted, but for the police cars.



Blogger David Young said...

Although I enjoy watching the TV show Cracker and like the idea of the psychological profiler, I'm frankly sceptical that these profiles are of any use. Of more interest to me is why this is happening all at once so suddenly. A good place to start would be to look for someone who's just come out of jail in the last few months and who may have displayed signs of increasingly violent fantasies in the run up to his release. Given how overcrowded our prisons are, I doubt whether prison staff have the time to notice odd behaviour in individual inmates any more. That's a fairly worrying thought when you think about it.

The police are going to need a lucky break or use a decoy as 'bait'. Can't see many volunteers though.

Separately, I'm amazed at the number of people who falsely think that prostitution is illegal. It isn't. However, many of the things connected to it, such as running brothels and living from immoral earnings, are illegal. In effect, the sale of sex is legal, but anything that might make for safer working conditions is illegal. Those who backed away from creating safe zones for prostition ought to feel uneasy now.


1:04 PM  
Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I'm so sorry that this happening to you folks. Growing up in the United States, I always believed this was strictly an American phenomenon. Tragically, I was wrong.

1:35 AM  
Blogger roGER said...

David - The profiles are somewhat successful when the enable the police to concentrate on certain categories of suspects.

In the case of serial killers, this isn't a trival advantage since many serial killers have only the most fleeting and superficial relationship with their victim.

This is totally different to most murders, in which murderer and victim know each other, often well.

Strangely enough, murder is the crime least comitted by criminals...

Yes, it's very annoying that according to one article I read, the Ipswich prostitutes themselves suggested two years ago that they 'work' in an industrial park close to the current red light district.

For whatever reason this suggestion was rejected and the police responded with arrests, cautions, and ASBOs driving the prostitutes into ever more remote, ill lit and dangerous parts of the town.

Rob - Yes serial killers exist all over the world, but many totalitarian states cover up their activities for idealogical reasons or national pride.

In some senses Britain invented the modern conception of the serial killer - Jack the Ripper who murdered five prostitutes in Victorian London.

12:28 PM  

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