Pushing Up Lilies

The Muswell Hill Murderer: The British Jeffrey Dahmer

Episode Summary

In this bone-chilling episode of Pushing Up Lilies, I delve deep into the sinister world of one of the UK's most notorious serial killers, Dennis Nilsen, infamously known as "The Muswell Hill Murderer." From 1978, Nilsen embarked on a horrifying spree of murder and necrophilia, leaving a trail of more than a dozen victims in his wake while living in London. Join me as I meticulously unravel the dark and disturbing legacy of Dennis Nilsen, and navigate the gruesome details of his crimes, examining the methods, motives, and the psychological depths that led him to commit these heinous acts. This episode serves as a stark reminder of the depths of human depravity and the unwavering dedication of those who work tirelessly to ensure that justice is served. * Listener discretion is strongly advised as we explore the twisted and haunting world of Dennis Nilsen.

Episode Notes


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Episode Transcription

0:06 Welcome to Pushing Up Lilies.

0:08 I’m your host, Julie Mattson.

0:10 Pushing Up Lilies is a weekly true crime podcast with spine tingling, unusual and terrifyingly true stories from my perspective as a forensic death investigator and a sexual assault nurse examiner.

0:24 Do I have some stories for you?

0:26 Are you ready?

0:31 The Muswell Hill murderer is a serial killer and necrophile and this guy is from Scotland or was from Scotland.

0:39 He murdered more than a dozen victims beginning back in 1978 while he was living in London.

0:48 Now on February the eighth of 83 Michael Catron, a plumber, was called to an apartment building in North London.

0:59 The address was 23 Cranley Gardens.

1:02 The drains in the building had been blocked for quite some time.

1:06 A lot of the residents in the building had been complaining the commodes weren't flushing, their sinks weren't draining.

1:13 Karen never really expected to find human remains when he was there, but that's exactly what he found when he opened the drain cover on the side of the building.

1:27 He was in complete and utter disbelief you would expect to find as a plumber, maybe hair or paper or something like that in the pipes.

1:42 But instead he found flesh and small pieces of broken bones.

1:47 Dennis Nielsen was one of the residents in the apartment complex and he made the comment that it looked like someone had been flushing KFC down the toilet.

1:59 Now, I don't know if everyone out there has KFC, but that stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

2:05 It is a very well-known chicken restaurant.

2:08 We have them in our area.

2:10 I don't know exactly what parts of the country they are and aren't in.

2:14 However, he made the comment that it looked like.

2:18 That's what someone had been flushing down the toilet in this apartment complex where he lived, the plumber felt like the pieces appeared to be human.

2:29 And Neil said as it turned out was behind it all.

2:36 Nielsen was born in 1945 in Scotland, and he had a very difficult life.

2:44 His parents had a very troubled marriage.

2:48 His grandfather died when he was young.

2:50 He had difficulty dealing with his grandfather's death because they were very close later in life.

2:57 He discovered that he was gay, and he was very uncomfortable with his sexuality.

3:04 And as you can imagine back in that time, it wasn't as widely accepted as it is now, he was very uncomfortable with that.

3:14 Now, from 1978 to 1983 Nilson killed at least 12 young men and boys.

3:24 And he also strangely enough, left behind a haunting series of chilling audio tapes that describe sickening details of all of the murders that he committed.

3:36 Now, he joined the army when he was 16 and he worked as a cook and ironically as a butcher after leaving that job back in 1972 here's a scary one for you.

3:51 He got a job as a police officer, now that didn't last long.

3:56 But for some reason during that time, he developed a fascination with autopsies and dead bodies.

4:05 I don't want to speak for all the police officers that I work with when I go on death scenes.

4:10 But I can tell you that almost none of them have a fascination with autopsies and dead bodies.

4:17 Most of the officers that I work with want to stay as far away from the bodies and the smells as they can.

4:25 Now he went on to become a recruitment interviewer, moved in with another man for approximately two years.

4:32 Now, the man denied having a sexual relationship with Nielsen.

4:39 But Nielsen was devastated when he left him back in 1977.

4:47 Now he was lonely, and he began to seek out sexual relationships.

4:53 It was probably a little bit weird and not very many people wanted to be around him as you know, you can imagine.

5:01 But he later decided that if he killed these men, it would force them to stay, which makes sense, you know, hey, so he always claimed to be conflicted about the killings that he performed.

5:15 He said that the bodies of the dead naked men fascinated him, and he wished that they were alive.

5:25 Now, his very first victim was a 14-year-old boy that he met at a pub back on New Year’s Eve of 1978.

5:36 Now, what was a 14-year-old boy doing at a pub?

5:40 I can't answer that question for you, but the boy followed Nielsen home to his apartment after Nielsen promised him alcohol, the two drank and then fell asleep.

5:52 Of course, Nielsen was fearful that the young boy would leave when he woke up.

5:59 Nielsen strangled him with a necktie and then drowned him in a bucket of water.

6:06 And then he washed the body and took it to bed with him where he attempted sex acts on the body and then fell asleep.

6:16 Now, Nielsen eventually hid the body parts under the floorboard until later when he could bury them in his backyard.

6:27 Some of the boys or men were homeless, but Nielsen wanted to keep them all the smell as you can only imagine, eventually became too much to bear.

6:40 He started burning them, then he would bury them in the garden in his backyard.

6:47 Now, Nielsen believed that only the organs were the culprit of the smell.

6:54 He would remove the organs, dissecting them for later use.

7:00 And then he saved the skin and the bones because he did not believe that the skin and the bones had any kind of an odor to them.

7:08 He just started discarding the organs because he thought that that was the culprit of the bad smell.

7:14 This is what I thought was really odd.

7:17 Well, it's all odd but he would dress the bodies and then take them to bed with him and he would watch TV with them.

7:27 I guess that was the only companionship that he could get.

7:32 Nielsen claimed that a corpse can't suffer.

7:34 And that if people were more upset about what he did to a corpse than what he did to a living person that their morals were upside down.

7:45 Now, he routinely had small bonfires in his backyard.

7:50 Could you imagine being invited to your neighbor's bonfire where he's burned in body parts?

7:55 No, you would know it.

7:56 You would know it.

7:57 That's where he disposed of the body parts that he didn't want to keep.

8:01 He would burn tires, which I don't know if y'all have ever smelled a burning tire, but it's a very strong smell.

8:10 But he would add the human organs to the flames of the tires burning to try to hide the smell of the organs.

8:18 Anything that didn't burn, he would bury near the fire pit.

8:24 In 1981 his landlord decided to renovate so he had to move out of his house and into an apartment.

8:34 He had to become much more creative with his disposal methods.

8:39 He could no longer have bonfires out in his backyard.

8:43 He no longer had a garden to bury anything in and he couldn't get away with that quite as easily.

8:51 He had to become a little more creative with how he was going to dispose of all these body parts.

8:56 Now, this is when he began flushing the human remains down the toilet.

9:02 The plumbing as you can imagine was old and it wasn't quite up to the task of holding the items that he would try to flush in it.

9:12 So of course, it became backed up and over time other residents in the building began to notice it and actually called a plumber.

9:23 Now, the human remains found in the plumbing were very easily traced to Nielsen's apartment.

9:31 The police immediately noticed the smell of decay and rotting flesh.

9:37 Now, when they went to his apartment, he calmly showed the police a garbage bag of body parts that he had in his closet.

9:46 When the police asked him where the rest of the remains from, the plumbing were body parts were actually stashed all over his apartment which implicated him in many more than one murder case.

10:02 But he admitted to 12 to 15 murders, and he was formally charged with six counts of murder and two attempted murders.

10:13 Now he was found guilty of all counts in 1983 and he was sentenced to life.

10:21 But Nielsen really didn't have remorse.

10:24 Not really a desire to be free.

10:27 He's not one that, you know, was ready to go before the parole board to try and be released.

10:33 He had no desire to get out of jail.

10:36 He commented on the arrest of Jeffrey Dahmer back in the 19 nineties.

10:41 Eventually people started calling him British Jeffrey Dahmer, even though he was arrested, you know, long before Dahmer ever committed any of his crimes.

10:53 But he had a lot in common with Dammer, including his methods of strangling victims and performing necrophilia on corpses and dissecting the bodies.

11:07 There is a Netflix series that was aired in that series.

11:13 You can hear the chilling audio tapes that Nelson recorded where he graphically described his murders in 2018, he died in prison at the age of 72.

11:29 He had a ruptured aortic abdominal aneurysm.

11:32 He spent his final moments lying in his own filth in his prison cell.

11:38 Some of Nielsen's potential victims actually escaped.

11:42 Back in 79 he attempted to murder a student from Hong Kong.

11:48 He met this person also at a pub, Anne lured him into his flat with the promise of sex and attempted to strangle him.

11:58 He managed to flee and then did report the incident to the police.

12:03 Strangely enough, he was questioned, but the man decided not to press charges.

12:11 And then two months after that attempted murder, there was a 23-year-old Canadian student who had been visiting relatives in England.

12:23 And of course, they both drank at a pub and Nielsen offered to kind of show him around and invited this guy to his house, promised him food and promised to give him more drinks.

12:37 And then they stopped on the way and purchased some whiskey and rum and beer.

12:42 He strangled him with wire and then actually drug him across the floor with the wire wrapped around his neck and then poured himself some rum and listened to music while he finished strangling him.

12:56 And then the next day, Nelson bought a Polaroid camera and photographed this guy's body in a lot of different positions and then wrapped the body in plastic bags and stuffed it under the boards in the floor.

13:15 After he had been under the floor, y'all, he took his body out and put it in a chair next to him and drank beer and watched television with the body there.

13:30 And now his third victim was a 16-year-old, and this was a student who hitchhiked to London without his parents' knowledge, he was trying to keep from having to pay train fare.

13:42 This kid had been sleeping in a railway station and then Nielsen ran into him and took him home with him and he strangled him as well until he became unconscious and then drowned him in the sink.

14:00 And then he bathed the body, placed him in a kitchen chair and took photos of him.

14:07 And then when he noticed that the body was bloating.

14:10 He hid him under the floorboards again.

14:14 He killed in more frequently after Duffy's murder.

14:20 But before the end of 1980 he had killed five other victims and attempted to murder one other.

14:27 But I mean, this guy would graphically recall how each victim had been murdered and how long the body was kept before he dissected it.

14:36 And a lot of his victims were unidentified because they were homeless and didn't have any identification, as you can imagine.

14:45 You know, we've talked about bodies that decompose and kind of what happens over time.

14:50 And so all of these bodies underneath the floor in his house, of course, had a very foul odor and attracted insects.

14:59 And in the summer months, you know, it was warmer.

15:02 And so I'm sure that that place did not smell good.

15:06 He actually called in sick to work just so he could dissect victims that probably wouldn't go over very good if I called my boss and said I need to dissect my last victim.

15:16 Can I use this sick day now, his last victim.

15:19 And this was kind of another strange story.

15:22 His legs were weak because he was on medication for epilepsy.

15:27 And Nelson ran into him and just suggested that he go to the hospital, which he did, he called an ambulance for him, and he went to the hospital.

15:37 Now the next day, the guy went to his house to thank him really, like, I'm sure he didn't expect to die.

15:44 Of course, Nielsen invited him in, and they both started eating and drinking.

15:50 Rum and Coke and fell asleep on the sofa.

15:52 And then Nelson manually strangled him while he was sleeping and then hid the body beneath his kitchen sink.

16:00 And if you go online and look at pictures of this guy, he's scary looking.

16:06 You know, we all talk about how we walk past people every day and we don't know anything about them.

16:13 Most of them seem normal, but you never really know behind closed doors what goes on.

16:18 But some people just have that look and you can't help but think that something's going on that no one will ever know about many of his victims were unidentified.

16:33 And I think that's the reason why ultimately, he was only charged with six counts because many of the victims could not be named and could not be identified.

16:44 Something else that I found on this guy while he was in prison.

16:48 He cut a fellow prisoner's throat.

16:50 It was part of an escape plan.

16:52 I guess this guy, he convinced another inmate that if he tried to commit suicide or attempt suicide, that he would be moved to a hospital where he might be able to escape, but the guy couldn't do it.

17:05 So Nielsen basically did it for him.

17:08 This guy Steven Cook, he had served 17 years for murder and he spent six months in this section near Nielsen's prison cell, Nielsen convinced him, you know that if he slashed his throat in a certain way, he would be sent to this mental hospital where he could escape from, he cut the right side of this guy's throat and then he actually was sectioned to this mental health hospital.

17:34 Anyway, it was interesting that he may have even continued to try to carry out his killings while he was in prison.

17:41 But reportedly he was a heroin addict while in prison as well and got several inmates addicted to heroin while he was there.

17:50 I find it interesting that these killers actually can think of the idea of focusing on homeless people so that they're not reported missing, which is evil and cruel even in itself, much less the killings.

18:08 But we are coming up soon on Halloween, which it's crazy how this year has gone by so fast and we're noticing it getting a lot cooler in Texas.

18:19 It's supposed to be down into the seventies and going to get some rain next week.

18:24 Hope everyone is doing well.

18:26 Again, reach out to me at Julie at PushingUpLillies.com.

18:29 If you have any stories that you would like for me to investigate or share on the air and definitely if you'd like to be interviewed, I'd love to talk to you.

18:38 Thank you so much for joining me today on Pushing Up Lilies.

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18:53 Thanks again for spending your time with me and be sure to visit me at pushinguplilies.com for merchandise and past episodes.