Dark Son now on BBC iPlayer

Professor David Wilson and former senior detective Jackie Malton uncover new facts about the unsolved Hammersmith Nude Murders from the 1960s

Dark Son: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is now available to view on BBC iPlayer.

I have been talking about this documentary for a while now. It was almost a year ago that I got involved with filming some sequences for this re-examination of the unsolved Hammersmith Nude Murders.

My involvement was sought because of findings in my book The Hunt for the 60s Ripper. This employed some modern policing theories to understand why Scotland Yard’s biggest ever manhunt failed to unmask the killer of six women in London in 1964-65.

I consulted Dr Kim Rossmo, one of the world’s leading geographic profilers. He produced an analysis and map for my book that revealed two areas of west London where the killer was probably based.

Harold Jones lived in the middle of the murder area

It is this data that is used in Dark Son. One of the problems the original investigation had was that it was thinly spread over 24 square miles of London.

The geo-profile would have allowed detectives to focus resources on two hotspots around Hammersmith and Notting Hill. Had they done so they would have crossed paths with Harry Stevens.

Harold Jones was released from prison in 1941

This man, living in Aldensley Road, Hammersmith, never featured in the original investigation. As Dark Son explains brilliantly, Stevens was actually Harold Jones, a murderer of two children in his youth in 1921.

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Dark Son: The Hunt for a Serial Killer on BBC

Here’s the trailer for the documentary I’ve been talking about for several months. Dark Son will go out on BBC Wales on 12 January and on BBC4 on 22 January.

The revelations will be ‘astonishing’, according to Professor David Wilson, the leading criminologist who presents the film.

Dark Son: The Hunt for a Serial Killer
BBC trailer for Dark Son

It is remarkable that since I wrote The Hunt for the 60s’ Ripper in 2017 this film has been made exploring fresh angles.

Leading criminologists, former detectives, a genealogist and writers have come together to re-investigate this unsolved, grotesque series of crimes. I was delighted to be asked to take part.

Who murdered six women and left their naked bodies in public places in the Swinging London of 1964-65? This was a huge police hunt and media story that eventually faded from the headlines.

Dark Son should refocus everyone’s attention on this mystery – not least that of the Met. A major theme of the film will look at child murderer Harold Jones.

As a 15-year-old he murdered two little girls in 1921. He served 20 years in jail.

However, detectives investigating the Nude Murders were never aware of the fact that he was living amid the crimes in Hammersmith during this time.

What would Scotland Yard’s detectives have discovered about him if they had known he was there?

Guesswork and the release of murderer Harold Jones

Harold Jones in jail in 1921

Thanks goodness deference to authority largely gets the middle finger today.

This means we can give short shrift to claptrap like this: ‘Sadistic crime is probably more rare in England than in any other country in the world. Curiously enough, even the few known exponents in our English records are apt to bear an alien name.’

So, just to be clear – sadism is a vice of foreign blighters. The English do not stoop to such shameful behaviour.

This view, voiced in 1941, was not that of some loudmouth in a pub after one too many. It was the opinion of the Commissioner of Prisons, Alexander Paterson.

Sadism and cruelty

The problem he faced was what to do with Harold Jones, who had been convicted of murdering two little girls when he was 15. In 1941 Jones had served 20 years, considered a ‘life’ term at the time.

During his incarceration, the consensus had been that Jones was a sadist who showed no remorse. Senior medical officer W Norwood East reported that for Jones ‘the sexual act reaches its highest gratification when accompanied by cruelty’.

In 1936 the governor of Maidstone prison, B Grew, was damning, ‘Sad as it may seem I can see no hopeful prospects for Jones in the future.’

But by 1941 Paterson was effectively muddying the waters. The medical profession really knows little about sadism, he suggested. 

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Final day shooting on Dark Son

Ebenezer Baptist Church Centre

Originally posted on robinjarossi.com 2 9 18

Last Tuesday saw the conclusion of evidence being presented and filmed for Dark Son, the forthcoming BBC documentary about 1960s serial killer Jack the Stripper.

It a was a big day’s filming: for me 12 hours long, but for the Monster Films’ team much longer.

I was interviewed in the morning and was later on hand for a long session of afternoon-evening filming. Fascinating research from contributors, former police officers and others was explored.

It was a brilliant day. It was also a treat to be again working alongside criminologist Prof David Wilson and ex-detective Jackie Malton. David Howard (director) and Rik Hall (producer) from Monster ran the production calmly and superbly.

The venue was the Ebenezer Baptist Church Centre in Abertillery, Wales. The significance of the setting will become clear when the film is aired.

It has been in production throughout this year. I was initially involved for a chilly day’s filming in February on the Thames (two victims were found on the river foreshore).

From magazine feature to book to TV

I could not imagine how all this would unfold when I signed a contract to write The Hunt for the 60s’ Ripper in October 2016 (Mirror Books). The idea grew out of a feature I proposed for a true-crime magazine that Mirror Syndication were developing.

My argument was that the case – and victims – were largely forgotten today and it should be reviewed and remembered.

The magazine was eventually shelved, but I was able to develop the research I had for the article into a book. Following its publication, my research sparked further new findings about the unsolved 1960s murders of six women in west London.

The documentary team assembled high-quality experts to delve further into the case. I can’t talk about the film’s content, but anyone who thinks they know everything there is to know about the case should think again.

Dark Son is expected be broadcast in autumn 2018.

Dark Son promo

Harold Jones at the time of his trial and imprisonment

An industry promo for Dark Son: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is doing the rounds.

It’s a good insight into the forthcoming BBC documentary. This will be a fascinating investigation into Harold Jones’s child murders in Wales in 1921 and his potential links to the unsolved 1960s Nude Murders in west London.

As the author of The Hunt for the 60s’ Ripper, which deals with the case, I have been involved with the filming. I was struck by the new leads and witnesses the producers have uncovered.

Who was Jack the Stripper?

The west London Jack the Stripper killings, as they became known, taunt us today. Between 1964 and 1965 someone murdered six women and left their naked bodies at various locations in the capital.

Because the victims were sex workers, the crimes faded from the headlines after the last murder, that of Bridie O’Hara, in February 1965. However, at the time it was Scotland Yard’s biggest ever investigation.

Suspects included a disgraced detective, underworld figures and almost anyone reported to favour unorthodox sexual practices. Police never charged anyone for the killings.

Criminology and law-enforcement experts

Neil Milkins was the first writer to cite Harold Jones as a suspect. Jones murdered two little girls – Freda Burnell and Florence Little – in Abertillery in 1921. I discovered when writing The Hunt for the 60s’ Ripper that Jones was later living in an area of Hammersmith that would have been of major interest to detectives had they had modern-day profiling techniques available to them.

The makers of Dark Son approached the possibility of Jones’s involvement with an open mind. Enlisting criminology and law-enforcement experts, they have delved into this mystery and made some powerful connections.

Several writers have convictions that they know who did it – some of which are ludicrous. Dark Son will definitely add a wealth of new insights into these infamous crimes.

This post first appeared on robinjarossi.com