In March 1950, a twenty-five-year-old Welshman, Timothy John Evans, was hanged at Pentonville Prison for the murder of his infant daughter Geraldine. Evans had voluntarily confessed to her killing, and to that of his young wife Beryl, in November of the previous year – both by strangulation. Their bodies had been found concealed in an outbuilding of the house in which they had all lived. A jury at the Old Bailey had taken just forty minutes to reach its unanimous verdict and the destruction of the whole young family had spanned but four months.
The Evans case attracted little public interest and aroused no controversy – it was just another sordid little murder within an impoverished family living in the slums of post-war London.
Then in July 1953, a fifty-four-year-old Yorkshireman, John Reginald Halliday Christie, was tried and convicted of the murder of his wife Ethel in the previous December. He too had confessed: Ethel’s body had been found concealed under the floorboards of their living room.
And the horror was only just beginning; Christie’s wife was one of four bodies, and two sets of skeletal remains, discovered in the house and grounds by police at the same time. He confessed to killing all six, by strangulation, over a period of some ten years. He too was hanged and on the same gallows as Evans.
But unlike Evans, the Christie murders attracted worldwide attention in a controversy that continues to this very day. What really happened under that one roof over the course of a single decade? For Timothy Evans and John Christie had both lived – and apparently killed – at the same time, in the same address that has become notorious in the history of British crime: 10 Rillington Place.