Just wanted to flag an interview I’ve done about The Hunt for the 60s’ Ripper for Crime Country, a new YouTube channel.
It’s been launched by Nick Barksdale. He also runs the hugely popular Study of Antiquity and the Middle Ages channel on YouTube, which has 109,000 subscribers.
We chat for around 45 minutes about the case of the West London serial killer who eluded Scotland Yard’s biggest ever manhunt in 1964-65. We talk about why the investigation failed and what makes Harold Jones the number-one suspect for the crimes.
Little while ago @FlipLondonTours tweeted a pic of Paul McCartney filming a scene for A Hard Day’s Night in 1964. He’s seen going into The Bush on Goldhawk Road, London.
The scene was never used in the final film, but the picture gave me a jolt because I wrote about this pub in The Hunt for the 60s’ Ripper without knowing of this Beatles connection. It was the boozer in which the serial killer’s final victim, Bridie O’Hara, was last seen at closing time on 11 January 1965.
I commented in the book on the juxtaposition of so much Swinging Sixties culture being made in Shepherd’s Bush – Doctor Who at the Beeb round the corner, the Beatles themselves at the Hammersmith Odeon etc – while the area was also the stomping ground for a devious killer.
It’s bizarre to think this photo puts one of most famous 1960s movies on the same premises probably frequented by the killer.
The BBC4 documentary Dark Son even suggested that the man who is a strong suspect as the perpetrator of the crimes, Harold Jones, lived nearby in Aldensley Road.
Shepherd’s Bush was literally a crossroads between the explosion of popular postwar culture and the city’s dark side.
Many thanks to Aidan McManus of @FlipLondonTours for posting the pic.
It was fascinating to chat with Portobello Radio host Aidan McManus last night. He’s a walking encyclopaedia of rock music, local history and unsolved crimes.
He is also a guide for the highly rated FlipsideLondon Tours, which explore London as home to David Bowie, Joe Strummer and the Clash, the punk scene and gangsters. His enthusiasm for music and local history is absolutely infectious.
The 1960s Nude Murders case, which occurred on his Notting Hill manor, is one of his interests. Which was why he got me on his show to talk about the case and how London has changed – check out the broadcast here.
I popped into the Castle on Portobello Road before heading over to meet Aidan. This was formerly the Warwick Castle, which was used a lot by a couple of the killer’s victims at the time, Mary Fleming and Frances Brown.
Prince Buster and The Beatles
In a grim show of gallows humour, no doubt fuelled by a few drinks, several women involved in the sex trade even had a sweepstake in the pub one night on who would be the killer’s next victim.
I was surprised and delighted to be contacted recently by Frank Quinn, the son of one of victims in the Hammersmith Nude Murders case.
This was, of course, the unsolved serial-killer investigation from the 1960s that I cover occasionally on this blog, having first written about it in The Hunt for the 60s’ Ripper.
Frank is the son of Frances Brown, who was the fifth of six women to be murdered.
The killer, who successfully eluded what was then the biggest police manhunt in history, picked up the women in his car or van, strangled them and left their bodies at public spots around west London. Dubbed Jack the Stripper by newspapers, he removed their clothing and jewellery, and sometimes their teeth, leaving few forensic clues for police.
‘The case has dominated my life,’ Frank told me. He feels it has been shrouded in mystery for too long, and is encouraged now that ‘things are coming out’.
Dark Son: The Hunt for a Serial Killer
The BBC4 documentary,Dark Son, followed up the findings in my book earlier this year. This pointed to convicted child killer Harold Jones as the man who should be considered the number-one suspect.
‘I found it an excellent documentary,’ Frank said when we spoke by phone. ‘It’s something I’ve been waiting for a long time. I never thought in my lifetime I’d ever see it happen.’
He is hoping the Met will make a serious attempt to reopen the case. In particular, he thinks they should look into Jones’s employment and driving records.
It is thought the killer may have used a grey Hillman Husky and that he worked on the Heron Trading Estate, where the bodies were stored before being dumped.
This intriguing documentary is now scheduled for next Tuesday (12 Feb) at 9pm on BBC4.
Dark Son: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is a 90-minute look into one of the most appalling and unsolved serial killer cases in British history.
In 1964-65 a kerb-crawler murdered six women in west London. He left their naked bodies in the River Thames or various outdoor secluded spots. Scotland Yard mounted its biggest ever manhunt but could uncover no strong suspects.
The killer stopped his murder campaign in February 1965. The public and media largely forgot the crimes.
As described elsewhere on this blog, the producers at Monster Films have pulled together a team of experts to reinvestigate the case. Child murderer Harold Jones is the prime suspect the police overlooked, the film argues.
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.