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.
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.
Jones should never have been released
He escaped being executed because he pleaded guilty and was tried before he turned 16. However, he was released from prison after serving 20 years – a decision Professor David Wilson condemns in Dark Son (see my post on this decision here).
The 90-minute documentary reveals that not only did Jones live close to several of the victims, who were all sex workers, but he also worked in Acton, near where the bodies were stored.
His description is similar to that of a man seen with Bridie O’Hara, the final victim, on her last night out in Shepherd’s Bush in 1965. The programme’s biggest coup, however, is to interview Jones’s daughter, who had never known of her father’s record of child murder.
Findings passed to the Met
Her account of how as a child she asked her mother why her dad changed his name and how her father escaped family tensions to stay in a homeless refuge are chilling. ‘Was he afraid that if he stayed and argued with mum he would have killed her?’ she wonders today.
Dark Son uncovers many potential new lines of inquiry about this terrible case, which taunts us from the past. While it does not prove conclusively that Harold Jones, who died in 1971, was the murderer, it does make a very strong case that he should be the prime suspect.
Which is why the programme makers have turned over their findings to the Metropolitan Police.