Ruth Margarete Christine Fuerst – 21 August 1943

On or about this day in 1943, Ruth Fuerst, Christie’s first known victim was murdered at 10 Rillington Place. Born on 2 August 1922 in Bad Vöslau in Lower Austria, she was half-Jewish and, having moved to Vienna in October 1938 following the German annexation of Austria in March, Ruth lost contact with her parents for a time and arrived as a refugee in Britain in June 1939.

Initially, she worked in various casual employments but was later interned as an alien on the Isle of Wight until December 1940. Once released, she moved towards London and found work as a waitress in the Mayfair Hotel; she met a Cypriot man by whom she had a daughter, born in October 1942, who was later given up for adoption.

By 1943, Ruth was in London and again working as a waitress. Previously at an address in Elgin Crescent, she moved to 41 Oxford Gardens in Notting Hill which was close by to Rillington Place and, thus, within Christie’s sphere of activity, both as a local resident himself and as a War Reserve Constable. By this time she was working in a munitions factory at the Grosvenor Works of John Bolding and Sons in Davies Street WC1. Having left that job, Ruth may have resorted to casual prostitution to provide income although this is not known for certain. In any event, she had by now become acquainted with Christie and had, according to him, already visited the house at No. 10 twice; on this occasion, Christie’s wife Ethel was away in Sheffield visiting her family and Christie later recounted how, during intercourse with Ruth, he had strangled her with a rope. With his wife’s return home imminent, Christie described how he had bundled up Ruth’s body and moved it temporarily to beneath the front room floorboards before subsequently moving her to the outside wash house and finally burying her in a shallow grave in the back garden – where she was to remain until discovered by police ten years later in 1953.

3 thoughts on “Ruth Margarete Christine Fuerst – 21 August 1943”

  1. After Christie’s execution, it stated that after Christie’s postmortem the pathologist Francis Camps was allowed to keep Christie’s body parts for his medical students to work with. Is there any truth in this? I read this in a book many years ago and have not been able to find any mention of this since. It was part of a chapter that stated 10 Rillington Place was turned into an establishment called the Celebrity Club and mentioned that Camps used Christie’s testicular anatomy was used to teach medical students for a number of years.
    Also I remember reading The Two Killers of Rillington Place and they stated that Christie was suspected of a murder in the 1930s, does anyone know anything about this or the name of the victim? How many did Christie kill, 6, 8, 9 or even as high as 12 victims as he stated was an ambition in the Scott Henderson Report?

    • Hello Scott
      Thank you for your interesting post to the blog.
      The book you refer to is Crime in London by Gilbert Kelland [1986] who makes mention, in his chapter ‘Notting Hill Gate – Riots and Rachmanism’, of the souvenir-keeping by pathologists, and the use of the house as the Celebrity Club (to all intents and purposes an illegal drinking club and brothel). Kelland was an Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police and head of the CID so was unlikely to have invented such a proposition although I have never encountered it elsewhere.
      John Eddowes’s book does suggest an earlier crime by Christie and also that he could have been a police informant and thus allowed to become a War Reserve Constable despite his criminal record; no evidence to support any of this is provided, however, and so it can really only be regarded as rather unlikely speculation.
      It can be said with reasonable certainty that Christie was responsible for six deaths, but to go beyond that requires acceptance that he also killed Beryl Evans and baby Geraldine which is far from assured, popular belief notwithstanding.
      I hope the foregoing is of some assistance.

  2. I’m related to Christie’s GP, Dr. Odess, who was of my grandparents’ generation. My mother and other members of the family referred to him as Uncle Odess, with the emphasis on the first part of his surname “ODDiss” – mispronounced in the Tim Roth series.

    Unfortunately I have very little other information about him, but will be doing a bit of research in my free time. Any info will be gratefully received!

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