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CRIMINALS & DEVIANTS - PART 1

CROSS-EXAMINING THE VILLAINS OF NEVERLAND IN SHADOW


Of no great interest to anyone, really, but here’s a rundown of selected cads and bounders who pop up, sometimes only once and with little consequence, in the story.


THE BLACK WIDOW OF WATFORD

Scene of crime - Chapter 12: De Futuro
Witnessed - Mentioned in a discourse between James Hook and Samuel Smee.

'The Black Widow of Watford' is the nickname by which the English murderer Kate Yardley is best known.


Yardley, who in television documentaries, books and media articles is also referred to simply as 'Mrs Yardley', gained notoriety when it was discovered she was responsible for the killing of seven men, each of whom she married shortly prior to every murder in order to benefit from insurance payments.


Her final victim was builder Paul Yardley, and she has elected to retain his surname, much to the distress of the victim's family.

Clipping from the Watford Evening Warrior newspaper. This small-ad was one of a number placed by Kate Yardley in order to lure victims to her home. The Lost & Found listing below Yardley's dates this clipping to the spring of 1988 and the Yardley ad is therefore likely to have attracted the 'Black Widow's' final victim, Timothy Colston.


When a Watford-based insurance clerk, who recognised Yardley's handwriting from a previous claim in another city became suspicious, the police were called and Yardley was arrested on 10th October 1989.


MODUS OPERANDI


Yardley avoided detection across almost all of the 1980s by frequently moving locations. A feature of her Modus Operandi was to rent a remote house, then advertise a room for rent within each property. This would attract men of limited complication and usually of little or no family.


Shortly after arrest, she confessed to cutting the throats of her seven husbands and resides in Crippingham secure hospital, Deptford, south-east London.


THE CHARING CROSS POISONER

Scene of crime - Chapter 12: De Futuro
Witnessed - Mentioned in a discourse between James Hook and Samuel Smee.

'The Charing Cross Poisoner' is the name by which the English murderer Alexander Denbeigh is known.


A trained chemist, from 1978 - 1981, it is known that Denbeigh frequented the pubs around London's Charing Cross area in order to tamper with drinks rested on the bar by patrons.


COCKTAIL


Using a hypodermic syringe, Denbeigh would squirt a cocktail of poisons into a distracted drinker's glass, prior to immediately exiting the establishment.

An imperfect prescription - administered by chemist Alexander Denbeigh.

On 4th November 1981, whilst attempting to contaminate a drink, Denbeigh was observed by an off-duty policewoman and arrested. Thought to have poisoned at least 14 victims - a seemingly random selection of men and women - Denbeigh remains in the care of the Crippingham secure hospital located in London’s Deptford area.



THE CONNECTICUT GHOUL

Scene of crime - Chapter 1: The Moth and the Flame
Witnessed - Thought about by Wendy Darling during a period of insomnia.

Dwayne Allen Colt, colloquially known as ‘The Connecticut Ghoul’, and less commonly as ‘The Connecticut Coupler’ is a convicted serial killer who operated in the US state of Connecticut in the mid-1980s.


FUNERAL NOTICES


Frequently moving across the state, Colt’s highly unusual methodology saw him scouring local newspapers for funeral notices. Learning of a ceremony, he would attend the event, identify the deceased’s partner, then days, weeks or even months later, murder that person.


Wounded by intended victim Betsy Barrett, Colt was captured and subsequently stood trial where his motive of reuniting his bereaved victims with their partners was heard and widely reported.


On 14th March 1988 Colt was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.


THE CRADLE SNATCHER

Scene of crime - Chapter 54: The Cradle Snatcher
Witnessed - A curious character whose exploits Wendy Darling reads of in Euston Library.

‘The Cradle Snatcher’ is a criminal figure who was briefly active in London in 1961.


A spate of thefts - of babies' prams and nursery equipment - and a series of authority-teasing pranks were connected by police and the media, and attributed to one perpetrator.

A perambulator, as manufactured by Silver Cross.


The figure's colourful name was invented by a journalist at The London Evening Citizen and instantly adopted by rival newspapers and by the public.


CAPTAIN ALBERT HOOK

Scene of crime - Chapter 21: Spiritus (and other)
Witnessed - A face from the past, discussed by James Hook and Wendy Darling in the former’s office.

Captain Albert Hook is Mr Hook's pirate ancestor, active in the late 17th century.


Hook’s involvement in piracy is well documented, as is his dramatic demise at the hands, probably, of enemy pirates or perhaps of authorities patrolling the Jamaican coast.

A miserable experience, Wikipedia tells us that keelhauling saw 'the victim tied to a line looped beneath the vessel, thrown overboard on one side of the ship, and dragged under the ship's keel, either from one side of the ship to the other, or the length of the ship (from bow to stern).' If you didn’t drown, you’d probably be lacerated by barnacles on the hull. Avoided all that? Don't worry, you might still suffer head trauma.


(Woodcut by By Unknown author - Courtesy of the Bournville Village Trust, Birmingham, England.)


Having suffered the maritime punishment of keelhauling, Hook was hanged from the mast of his ship the Nightmare, where he dangled above the remains of his massacred crew, cut neatly into parcels, and arranged on the deck.


JACK THE RIPPER

Scene of crime - Chapter 30: A Chamber of Horrors (and other)
Witnessed - World-famous serial killer active in London’s Whitechapel district in the late 1880s. Referenced by Peter whilst taunting James Hook.

Note: unlike the other entries in this post, the killer known as Jack the Ripper was a real person who murdered an unknown number of women.


THE CANONICAL FIVE


The best guess is that the ‘canonical five’ women named below were killed by the murderer. Theories exist, however, which propose both a lower and higher number of victims. The truth will never be known.

September 22nd 1888. Punch magazine comments on the London police force's inability to lay a hand on the killer.


The women’s names who came to be known as the ‘canonical five’ are:


Mary Ann Nichols Annie Chapman Elizabeth Stride Catherine Eddowes Mary Jane Kelly


From Wikipedia’s entry:


Jack the Ripper was an unidentified serial killer active in the largely impoverished areas in and around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. In both the criminal case files and contemporary journalistic accounts, the killer was called the Whitechapel Murderer and Leather Apron.


Attacks ascribed to Jack the Ripper typically involved female prostitutes who lived and worked in the slums of the East End of London. Their throats were cut prior to abdominal mutilations. The removal of internal organs from at least three of the victims led to proposals that their killer had some anatomical or surgical knowledge.


Rumours that the murders were connected intensified in September and October 1888, and numerous letters were received by media outlets and Scotland Yard from individuals purporting to be the murderer. The name "Jack the Ripper" originated in a letter written by an individual claiming to be the murderer that was disseminated in the media.


GERALD KANE

Scene of crime - Chapter 38: Last Orders
Witnessed - A neighbour, in Deptford, of Samuel Smee.

Gerald 'Southie' Kane is an English criminal specialising in bank robberies and the holding-up of bookmakers and credit unions.


Though currently free, the 76-year-old Kane has spent almost half of his life in prison and is noted for planning and executing a sizeable raid on the Peckham branch of the British Savings Bank in December 1983. This robbery resulted in the theft of a seven-figure sum of cash.


Kane, who was captured four months later in the Match Box bar in nearby Balham, refused to name his accomplices and was jailed for 12 years, of which he served nine.


The money has never been recovered.


There’ll be more criminals and deviants pinched from the pages of Neverland in Shadow in the second part of this two-post series.


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