One of the odd facts about some of the world's most sadistic serial killers is that many started off in childhood by being cruel to animals; whether by dissecting roadkill, trapping wildlife, or wantonly torturing and killing other people's pets. This inability to show empathy for another living creature, compassion for their actions or even remorse for the pain which they have inflicted is often a small but crucial step into a child's development from a normal human-being, into being a serial killer.
But this heinous habit isn't consistent across the board, as there are many cases where infamous serial killers and murderers were absolutely besotted by their pets, doted upon them daily and when their beloved pet died, they were absolutely beside themselves, showing more grief and emotion for their animal, than any of their victims. What follows is a handful of those examples (which I will update and add to, as and when). Enjoy. Mx
Sadly, owing to copyright infringement issues, I have had to remove photos of their pets.
"Bleep" was the faithful, loyal and loving Border Collie cross of London's most notorious serial killer Dennis Nilsen. She was bought as a puppy in a local pet shop on Kilburn High Road by David "Twinkle" Gallachan, who was Nilsen's lover, who he'd met barely a few weeks earlier at The Champion in Bayswater and named "Bleep" as her muted barks as a puppy sounded more like a high-pitched squeak. So was "Bleep" the last victim of serial killer Dennis Nilsen? Yes. Did Nilsen kill "Bleep"? No. Of course he didn't. Nilsen absolutely adored "Bleep" (see them playing in the animation above); he fed her, brushed her, bathed her and the two would take lovely long walks together on Hampstead Heath. Bleep was his best-friend, his closest companion, and - in Nilsen's eyes - the only one who ever truly loved him.
But in 1978, after a few volatile months together, "Twinkle" walked out, causing Nilsen to spiral out of control, and with his rage uncontrollable and fuelled by anger, he killed fifteen young men in just five years. "I wanted to stop sooner", Nilsen said after his arrest, but after he'd murdered his second victim - Kenneth Ockenden - he knew he'd be locked up for life and his main concern was "if I'm put away, what would happen to Bleep?". Unfortunately, Nilsen's concerns were proved right as just three days after he was imprisoned, "Bleep" was put to death by lethal injection. Her only crime? Being a faithful, loyal and loving dog... of a serial killer.
See video footage of Bleep & Dennis together in his home videos here. Learn about the time that Nilsen rescued a sparrow and nursed it back to health click here. Or read his full profile.
MYRA HINDLEY owned a tan & white collie called "Puppet", which she was totally besotted by. Unfortunately, after her arrest as accessory to the brutal murder of 17 year old Edward Evans and the discovery of Brady's suitcase which contained a series of highly disturbing photos and a 13 minute audio of the torture and murder of 10 year old Leslie Ann Downie, Police were alerted to a few different versions of this photo, taken on Saddleworth Moor at different times, and they wondered whether they were a macabre memorial taken on top of the shallow grave of 12 year old victim John Kilbride. Sadly, they were right.
As Hindley refused to cooperate, they needed to find a way to accurately date the photos, and to do that they needed to determine the age of “Puppet”, so they put her under anaesthetic to x-ray his teeth. Unfortunately, “Puppet” died during the procedure and Hindley was inconsolable, later stating “I feel as though my heart's been torn to pieces. I don't think anything could hurt me more than this has”. Oddly, she never showed any remorse for her victims. Read her full biog here.
IAN BRADY: Lazy biographers often state that Moor's Murderer Ian Brady was an animal abuser, whether torturing cats or drowning dogs, but (as much as this makes for good newspaper copy) it's simply not true. Ian Brady truly loved animals; he had three rabbits; a big grey called Jenny, a big black called Harry and a small Dutch called Smokey, a black & silver German Shepherd called Una and a Cocker Spaniel called Sheila, at whose death the ten year old Brady was inconsolable. Left, is a photo of Brady & "Bruce", who belonged to his birth mother and his step-father.
Also, in an incident he recounted to DSC Peter Topping of Manchester CID, when Brady was a child growing up in The Gorbals (Glasgow) he saw an injured horse which had slipped on the icy-road, a canvas screen was erected and the horse was "euthanized" with a house-brick. Brady said “it lay there with its massive sides heaving and its breath steaming the frosty air… I can still see the great liquid eyes rolling in terror… they were going to kill the horse. My chest was bursting and I began to cry”. Even if this story is a fabrication, it seems unlikely that he was an animal abuser, especially as Brady reportedly asked for the proceeds of his autobiography – Black Light – to be split between four animal charities. Read Brady's full psychological profile here.
John Wayne Gacy: As a mentally and physically abused boy, growing up in a loveless home and living in fear of his violent and alcoholic father, young John Wayne Gacy Jnr had one thing in his life which he could be assured of would bring him love and affection - his dogs. He had two during his preteen years; the second of these was a Spaniel called Prince (seen left). As with many of his contemporaries, Gacy wept copiously upon the death of both dogs, and yet showed no emotion for any of his victims. His final words weren't "I'm sorry" but simply "kiss my ass". Read Gacy's full profile here.
Jeffrey Dahmer: As a young boy, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer adored his dog, a Spaniel cross who he named Frisky, as being a shy, timid and lonely boy, Jeffrey's dog was often his “only friend” according to his father. And yet, Dahmer would happily impale the heads of other dogs he’d found as rock-kill on a stick to scare the neighbours.
Ed Gein: Oddly, for a serial-killer, a grave-robber and a necrophile, Ed Gein (dubbed "The Butcher of Plainfield") had no known history of animal cruelty, as hunting, skinning and butchering wildlife was very much a part of his life living in rural Wisconsin. And even though he would watch his father “gut a hog or deer”, stripping its skin, filleting its muscles and gutting its innards (techniques he would use of many of his victims), Ed would late claim that he’d never butchered any large animals as “the sight of blood made me queasy”. That said, it is worth noting that Ed claims to have experienced an ejaculation watching a hog being slaughtered. Read Ed Gein's profile here.
Harold Shipman: Although Dr Harold Shipman, dubbed "Doctor Death" and one of the world's most prolific serial killers had very few pets (one black poodle and a few rabbits), as a medical student at Leeds School of Medicine, Shipman would regularly complain about the caged dogs that were kept on the roof for medical testing and vivisection, and would often weep at the sight of the poor little dogs being led to their early deaths. Read Dr Shipman's profile here.
Adolf Hitler: It seems odd that a man with so much hatred, who orchestrated the holocaust and the deaths of six million Jews, could have so much love for his pets, but it's true. Hitler loved his dogs, these included: "Fuchsl", a white Fox Terrier who Hitler found as a stray, nurtured and raised during in World War One and was reportedly “distraught” when Fuchsl was lost during a trench bombing. “Prinz”, a German Shepherd who comforted Hitler during his post-World War One war years of poverty, but as Hitler was unable to afford to feed Prinz, Hitler had to re-home her, but she always escaped and returned to her loving master.
There was also “Muckl” a German Shepherd, "Blonda" (born in 1928), “Blonda” (her daughter born in 1930), “Bella”, another German Shepherd who was brought from a minor official in the Ingolstadt post-office (the nearest town to his countryside retreat dubbed The Wolf’s Lair) in 1942 to keep his other dogs company, and, more famously, there was his beloved “Blondi”.
On 29th April 1945, as the Soviets closed in on Berlin, Hitler decided to take his own life, but fearing that his SS-issued cyanide capsules lacked the necessary potency, he ordered Dr Werner Haase to test them on Blondi who died instantly. After which, Hitler became inconsolable at the death of his beloved dog, and so at Hitler’s request, Hitler's dog-handler Feldwebel Fritz Tornow shot Eva Braun’s two dogs and Blondi’s litter of puppies in the garden of that infamous bunker.
UPDATED: Whilst serving his sentence at HMP Full Sutton, Dennis Nilsen kept two budgerigars which he called Hamish and Tweetles.
If you "enjoyed" this blog post, why not take a peek at my other articles: such as serial killers and their diets, favourite drinks, height, IQ, star signs, lunar cycles, dates of birth, reasons for killing, music, nicknames, last meals and whether they're alive or dead... to name but a few.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, podcaster, crime historian 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” and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totalling 75 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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