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A great way to learn the truth about a serial killer's true identity and personality is to read a rather mundane letter written by them. This week we return to the Kindly Killer - Dennis Nilsen.
This letter is dated 6th August 2002, it was sent from his cell at HMP Full Sutton in York, where he had been incarcerated for 19 years on a whole life tariff and it is addressed to someone called Simon, and although we don’t have Simon’s original letter, I think we can get the gist of it. The letter from Dennis Nilsen reads as such:
“Dear Simon. Thank you for your letter of the 2nd of August. In it you say that you have "an interest in crime". Is this a healthy or unhealthy interest, or are you considering taking it up as a profession? If so you would be better advised to write to a professional criminal whose lifestyle centres on criminal activities. If your interest includes, as you suggest, finding out "what causes people to do it", something you seem to have been engaged in for many years, perhaps you can enlighten me by revealing your conclusions.
Serial killers do not "mastermind" their extreme actions. They flow from a desperate reaction from the building stresses of personal emotional dysfunction. I don’t think that the media blow traumatic homicide events "out of all proportions" per se, what they do is engage in reinvented snowballing effects of continuing theories, conspiracies and journalistic speculations bringing to bear on the subject-at-hand much license or invention. Who can really explain the true trauma of events other than the victims and the perpetrators? States do not look for causes, they demand punishment and vengeance to, somehow, quell populist fears and dilute personal agony through magical 'solutions'.
The last thing that any politician wants to hear is the truth, and the police and the law (with popular journalism) have long since forgotten where they put it. One just has to find one's own informed way around those bald reported facts and ignore all the superficial padding. People who devour True Crime magazines tend to know sod all about true crime. It’s all written in a boring fashion to a set formula, as is the reporting of crime in the papers where the type of reader compliments the type of text with all it's simple black and white, Mickey Mouse 'realities'. I am not condemning the SUN and the NEWS OF THE WORLD out of hand. After all, they DO make a good insulating material for Fish & Chips.
As for hobbies and interests, I seem to be verging on the rim of being a bit of a dillitante (if I have spelt that correctly.) I have no access to the INTERNET nor free access to computers other than in my work in the Braille Unit where I am learning to transcribe ordinary text into Braille. I have already written two books of my autobiography "History of a Drowning Boy" (1996) and "Papers from a Prisoner" (2002). The Home Office is busily engaged in obstructing the future publication of these works. They will not allow me to disseminate these unpublished works to ANYONE in the public domain. Whether they are published in the future or not. I have signed your card as you requested. Yours sincerely Des Nilsen”.
Ah, thanks Dennis. I really think he should have got a job as an agony aunt. “Dear Dennis, my flat really stinks, should I try a new bleach… or just get rid of the bodies?”, “Dear Dennis, I find it difficult to pull the boys, can you recommend a chat-up line other than how do you fancy wearing this tie… forever?” or “Dear Dennis, can you recommend a different festive drink, as I think you’ve put me off mulled-wine for life?”. Ah, a little private joke for those who’ve been on my walk.
If you found this interesting? Check out the Mini Mile episodes of the Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast, or click on the link below to listen to an episode.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London”, nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British Podcast Awards 2018", and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totaling 50 deaths, over just a one mile walk
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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