Murder Mile True-Crime Podcast #51 - The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place - Part Four (Timothy John Evans)
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Welcome to the Murder Mile true-crime podcast and audio guided walk of London's most infamous and often forgotten murder cases, set within one square mile of the West End.
Episode Fifty-One: On Wednesday 30th November 1949 at Merthyr Vale Police station in South Wales, 24 year old Timothy John Evans confessed to disposing of his wife's body, down a drain, outside of 10 Rillington Place, after a failed abortion attempt. But as a known liar who had spent many hours at the Kensington Park Hotel, getting drunk and telling fanciful stories, was this even true? This is part four of the full, true and untold story of The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place
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Ep51 – The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place – Part Four (Timothy John Evans)
INTRO: Lies. We all hear lies, tell lies and deny that we lie, and yet there’s very little difference between a truth and a lie, as just like the truth, a lie is just a very subtle shift in one person’s perspective, used to protect ourselves or others from the truth. So really, one person’s truth is just another person’s lie.
But then again, there’s no such thing as the truth, it can never exist; as every single sentence, word or syllable we utter is riddled with a carefully calculated degree of emphasis, bias and belief, all of which is unconsciously rearranged and reedited to suit our own needs, goals and opinions.
Fibs, untruths and little white lies are part of our daily vocabulary. It’s the difference between a person who is dull, poetic, creative or a visionary, with a very fine line between what is fantasy and reality. Lies are harmless, fibs are fun and everything we say is spun, but the second that lying becomes second nature, and the fantasist begins to believe their own lies as the truth, those lies can become deadly.
By 1949, two bodies lay undiscovered in shallow graves in the back garden of 10 Rillington Place. On 8th November 1949, following a series of failed abortion attempts and in a fit of depression, 20 year old pregnant mother-of-one Beryl Evans committed suicide by gassing herself.
Fearing the suspicion would fall upon her abusive husband; a heavy drinker, a terrible liar and known fantasist whose fiery bust-ups with his wife had been reported to the Police, Timothy Evans destroyed any evidence, packed-up, moved-out and fled, knowing that he would be blamed for her death.
Some of what follows is based on the killer’s own memories and perspective; so what part of this story is true… is up to you. My name is Michael. I am your tour-guide. This is Murder Mile. And I present to you; part four of the full, true and untold story of The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place.
SCRIPT: Today, I’m standing outside of The Kensington Park Hotel at 139 Ladbroke Grove, directly opposite (what was) David Griffin’s Refreshment Room, and one street east of The Thorley’s family home at 112 Cambridge Gardens, Tim’s mum’s house at 11 St Mark’s Road and the final flat of Beryl & Tim Evans on the second floor of 10 Rillington Place.
Built in 1866 as a purpose built public house, the KPH is an eye-wateringly beautiful four-storey British boozer with a rich wood-panelled façade, a twin saloon door and an oil-burning lantern on the outside, with the inside thick with traditional period details, like brass fittings, ornate pillars, moulded cornices, bottle balustrades, a central bar-island, and fitted-out with a luncheon room, a billiard hall, a theatre and (as created in 1929) a “discrete ablution facility” for the ladies.
And as one of London’s oldest live music venues - where Welsh crooner Tom Jones played his first city gig, punk band The Clash hung out, notorious fascist Oswald Mosley staged his ill-fated 1958 election bid and where (it is rumoured) a small softly spoken serial-killer once served behind the bar - the KPH is a great pub where generations of legends have sat, supped pints and spouted bullshit about sport.
Sadly, it’s now boarded-up, as the £3.2 million property is about to be turned into yet another bloody gastro-pub - where bearded dickheads in dungarees swig pints the size of thimbles, smarmy gits in red trousers quaff vegan fry-ups served on a coal-miner’s shovel and tosspots in tiny hats pose for selfies in-front of their poncy din-dins, tweeting about how “amazeballs” it is, even though it’s just a piece of toast, drenched in oil, slopped with hummus and smeared in avo-f**king-cado – instead of a good honest local pub frequented by the salt-of-the-earth heroes. (Burp! “Better out than in”).
And yet, it was here, in the autumn of 1949, that – over a few pints – 24 year old Timothy Evans would regale his chums with a stream of rather fanciful stories, but having forgotten how to tell the truth, his impulse to lie would cost him his life. (Interstitial)
On Wednesday 30th November 1949 at 3:10pm, in the sleepy Welsh village of Merthyr Vale, a tired and dishevelled Timothy Evans entered the local police station stating “I want to give myself up. I have disposed of my wife”. Taken-aback, Detective Constable Gwynfryn Evans asked “do you realise what you are saying, sir?” to which Evans replied “Yes, I know what I am saying. I cannot sleep and I want to get it off my chest”. And over the next two hours, he gave the following statement.
(Tim’s voice): “October-time, my wife Beryl told me she was three months gone. I said “another won’t make any difference”. She told me she was going to get rid of it. I told her not to be silly that she’d make herself ill. Then she brought a syringe and some tablets. That didn’t work, I told her I was glad. On the Monday morning, she told me if she couldn’t get rid of the baby, she’d kill herself and our baby Geraldine. I told her she was talking silly. Then I went to work, loaded up my van and went on my way.
That morning, I pulled up at a café between Ipswich and Colchester. I can’t say exactly where. I ordered a tea and there was a man sitting opposite me. He said “you’re looking worried?” So I told him about it. He said “don’t worry, I can give you something to fix that” and he handed me a little bottle wrapped in brown paper. He said “tell your wife to take it first thing then to lay down for a few hours, and that should do the job”. He never asked any money for it. I paid my bill and went on my way.
When I got home, my wife found the bottle but I told her not to take that stuff.
The next evening, after work, I went home and noticed there was no lights on. I lit the gas and it started to go out so I went into the bedroom to get a penny and I noticed the baby in the cot. I then saw my wife lying in the bed. I shook her, but I could see she wasn’t breathing.
Between about one and two in the morning I got my wife downstairs. I opened my front door at 10 Rillington Place, and pushed her body head first into the drain. After that, I got my baby looked after. I quit my job. I sold my furniture. I told my mother that my wife and baby had gone for a holiday. Then I caught the train to Merthyr Vale and I’ve been here since. That’s the lot”.
In this statement, he would admit to aiding his wife’s death, procuring an abortion and the unlawful burial of her body. Two months later, Timothy John Evans would be charged with murder. It was a confession which would end his life… but the trouble had begun almost two decades earlier.
The life of Timothy John Evans started badly even before he was born. Abandoned by his father Daniel Evans whilst Thomasina was still pregnant, Tim was a small, pale and sickly little boy raised in a village full of burly men who hauled coal at the Merthyr Vale Colliery, who would always feel like an outcast.
Born on 20th November 1924 at 50 Mount Pleasant; a tiny two-story coal-miner’s cottage in a rural Welsh village on the banks of the River Taff, Tim’s early life was a struggle, and with Thomasina being a single-mother, times were hard. But being a strong sturdy women living in a tight-knit community with many families – like the Lynch’s, the Probert’s and the Evans’ - related by marriage or birth; she remarried, rebuilt her family and (just like at 11 St Mark’s Road) she gave her babies strength, love and stability. And yet, she would always struggle with Tim - an unruly boy who life had cursed.
Always being shorter, smaller and weaker, Tim was mercilessly bullied by the other boys, and having struggled to speak properly before the age of five, even his teachers saw him as a “backwards” child.
At school, Tim wasn’t a good scholar; as being slow-witted, hot-tempered and easily-duped by older boys, he often got into trouble. And having an abnormal IQ of just 65 and the mental age of an 11 year old, being barely literate, Tim would struggle to read and write, choosing instead to dive into comic capers like The Beano and The Dandy, wild adventures like Boys Own, or fantasy sci-fi like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. But by the age of nine, Tim’s limited education would be cut short.
Whilst bathing in the River Taff, Tim impaled his big toe on a hidden shard of broken glass; a harmless boyhood injury which is easily repaired, but having bound his bloody foot in a dirty hanky, by the time Tim hobbled his way from Mount Pleasant to the doctor in the neighbouring village of Merthyr Vale, the small cut had gone septic, and would leave him with a lifetime of sickness, absence, pain and a permanent limp.
Later contracting tuberculosis, Tim spent a whole year isolated at the Moorland Clinic for Children in Hampshire, hundreds of miles away from his family. And being a small lonely boy, with a low IQ, a bad lung, a disabled foot and a deep feeling of inferiority, being blessed with a vivid imagination, Tim began to twist the truth of his humdrum life into a fantasy world where he was rich, smart and successful, but lacking the intelligence to sustain such a bold story, even Tim’s mum branded him a “terrible liar”.
By the outbreak of World War Two, eager for excitement, Tim tried to enlist in the Armed Forces, but was rejected from National Service on medical grounds. Aged 15, Tim worked as a van-boy at Merthyr Vale Colliery, and by 17, he was a driver for the Air Ministry, having settled with his family at 11 St Mark’s Road. But being regarded as unreliable, highly strung and a fiery liar with a string of bad debts, his work history was patchy, as he drifted from jobs as a coal-haulier, car cleaner and a factory worker.
Being easily-duped, in April 1946, Tim received two criminal convictions; one for driving an unlicensed car, and one for receiving stolen goods (most notably a suitcase and a rug), both resulted in fines.
And although his exasperated mother supported her unruly son with a bed, money, meals and endless love, often being unemployed and always being broke, with no hobbies nor interests to engage him; every evening, over a few pints, as he propped-up the bar at The Kensington Park Hotel, Tim would wax lyrical and regale the locals with tall-tales and fanciful fibs of how he lived the life of a gigolo, how his absent dad was an Italian Count and how his fictional brother owned a fleet of limousines.
So with her patience wearing-thin, it must seemed like a blessing for Thomasina, when (in 1947) her boy met and married a lovely girl called Beryl Thorley who later gave birth to a beautiful baby called Geraldine. This should have been the makings of him as a grown-up and a man.
But with deceit coming as second nature; having falsely claimed his daughter was gravely ill to acquire a loan, pretended he hadn’t been sacked for whole three weeks to save on marital spats and having kept-up the pretence to his wife and lodger that he was starting a new career as a manager at de Havilland Air Lines, a job which didn’t even exist, Tim was a born liar who was incapable of the truth.
By Monday 7th November 1949; with arguments being a daily event, debts stacking up and Beryl feeling pale, weak and depressed after several failed abortions, what the Evans’ needed was honesty. But Tim wasn’t the only liar and fantasist living at 10 Rillington Place. (Interstitial).
(Christie’s whisper) “The next day Beryl told my wife she was going to get a separation. My wife and I agreed that - if she needed us to - we would adopt the baby. It were then, at a later date that Beryl told me she were going to make an end of it. In short, she were going to commit suicide”.
After Beryl’s death and Tim’s arrest, Reg Christie (the ex-Special Constable, decorated war-hero and respected family man) made that statement to the Police… except none of it was true.
On Monday 31st October 1949, eight days before Beryl’s death, Raymond Phillips & Frederick Jones of Larter & Sons were contracted to repair a leaky bay-window and the roof of the communal washhouse. It was a simple job undertaken during the week days which shouldn’t have disturbed the tenants, but with Ethel stuck at home, Beryl feeling blue, Geraldine all restless and Reg off sick with fibrositus and bouts of diarrhoea, the constant banging and hammering had left 10 Rillington Place in total disarray.
As the baby wailed the whole house down with a constant cacophony of tired tears, Beryl didn’t hear his soft plimsolls as they slowly crept up the creaking stairs and lurked on the landing, then again, she never did. But as Reg’s egg-like head peeped around the open door – having an almost comical face with over-prescribed spectacles, slipping false teeth and a softly cooing voice which soothed Geraldine - clutching two steamy mugs of tea, Reg cooed “I wondered if you fancied a cuppa, dear?” He did this most days, and with Beryl being alone, she appreciated his company, his chats and his friendship.
Reg could see Beryl wasn’t her usual self. She was always such a pretty young girl, but with her flawless brow wrinkled by a deep frown, her smooth skin all sickly and pale, her luscious red lips all cracked, her baby blue eyes red-raw from crying and her supple figure hidden by a shapeless mass of crumpled clothes, what the innocent twenty-year old needed – Reg thought - was a father’s love and protection.
Over the eight months she’d live there, Beryl & Reg had developed a good relationship. He was a very patient man, who cared and listened; and having pacified her hot-tempered husband after several of the couple’s regular rows, covered the cost of their furniture fees to keep the bailiffs at bay, snapped a much-loved family portrait of mother and baby which hung on her wall, and being medically trained, Beryl knew that Reg was experienced, trusted and (best of all) knowledgeable.
And as she opened up to him about her inner most secrets; about the arguments, the lies, the debts, her struggles with motherhood, her unexpected second pregnancy and her several failed abortions - all of which had left her sickly, thin and exhausted - with the baby’s termination being a tricky topic and Beryl & Tim often at each other’s throats, Reg agreed to speak to Tim on Beryl’s behalf. And for the first time in weeks, Beryl smiled.
(Christie’s whisper) “…it were my wide knowledge of medicine which made it possible for me to talk convincingly about sickness and disease, and she readily believed I could cure her”. (End)
That night, having finished his shift at Lancaster Food Products, as promised, Reg had a man-to-man chat with Tim in the privacy of his front-room. And being a boy whose dad had abandoned him before he was born, Tim appreciated this fatherly advice.
This was, after all, John Reginald Halliday Christie; a happily married man (Christie’s whisper) “twenty nine years to be precise” who for nine of those years had deserted his wife, a former Special Constable “commended twice” having helped arrest a man who had stolen a bicycle, and a decorated war-hero who was “awarded the British War & Victory Medal” which every serving soldier received regardless of their conduct, but then again, Tim didn’t know any of that.
So as Reg sat there, flanked by two framed medical certificates (and knowing that the barely-literate Tim wouldn’t know they were only for First Aid), as he thumbed a thick medical book (and knowing that the easily-duped Tim wouldn’t know it was only a St John’s Ambulance manual) and regaling him with tales of how his training as a doctor was “cruelly cut short by The Great War” (all of which was a lie, but then, where-as Tim lacked the intelligence to maintain a story, Reg did not), and claiming to have a wide knowledge of abortions (which – with two bodies rotting in the back garden – meant it was technically true), Reg coerced Tim into letting him perform a termination on his pretty petite wife.
All the while, laying the blame squarely on the young couple stating “if only you or your wife had come to me in the first place, I could have done it without any risk” and extending the cautious caveat that, given the risky procedure “one out of every seven women die”. Being physically tired, emotionally torn and with his brain thoroughly bamboozled, Tim said he would have to sleep on it. But being a young couple, unable to afford a new baby, they had only one option, and Christie knew that.
On the morning of Tuesday 8th November 1949, after a restless night, Beryl and Tim washed, dressed, fed Geraldine, and as Tim sat at the kitchen table, having a smoke, he exhaled deeply and said “tell Mr Christie everything is okay”. And although a great weight dropped from Beryl’s shoulders, in those six simple words, Tim had sealed the fate of their unborn baby and condemned them both to death.
And as he kissed his wife goodbye, little did he know that this was the last time he would see her alive.
After the chaos of the last eight days, with the bay-window finally fixed and the roof of the washhouse replaced, with only one plasterer remaining, normality had been restored to Rillington Place. As Ethel dozed by the toasty fire, Reg rummaged through a small brown suitcase. It didn’t contain much, just a few odd knickknacks; like a necklace, a hair-brush, a stocking, a handbag and a dog-eared photo of a young pretty girl holding a baby, and as he softly stroked her image - after eight months of patience and persistence - he imagined what it would be like to finally touch Beryl.
It was 10:30am, and with Ethel asleep, Reg returned the suitcase under the sofa, having retrieved four little items; a length of rope, a bottle of Friar’s Balsam, two rubber hoses and a square glass jar.
For the last time, Beryl placed her baby in the cot for a mid-morning nap, tucked the soft sheet up to her chin and kissed her rosy cheeks. As always, Beryl didn’t hear his soft Plimsolls creep up the creaky stairs, or feel his hot breath on her neck as he lurked on the second-floor landing, so initially she was startled. But seeing the reassuring smile and hearing the soft voice of a trusted friend, who whispered “I thought you might like a cup of tea”, seeing Reg, made Beryl’s beautiful smile return. And as they entered her flat, so they wouldn’t be disturbed, he locked the door.
Beryl stood there, all hopeful and nervous, dressed in a blue woollen jacket with black stitching, a blue and white spotted cotton blouse and a black shirt, as she trembled, her heart thumping fast and hard.
From her bedroom, Reg pulled a thick quilt, laid it on the kitchen floor in front of the unlit fire, and with the bedside manner of a doctor, he said “let’s get you comfortable, shall we?” As his patient, she was in his hands, and so - trusting him implicitly - at his command, she slipped off her stockings, slid off her knickers and lay on the quilt, her legs parted, her genitals exposed.
Beside her, Reg popped the square glass jar, it sloshed with a white liquid which smelled like the minty balm that she would rub on her baby’s chest whenever she was ill. This was all very strange and new to Beryl, but as he attached the long rubber hose to a copper pipe at the side of the fire, she trusted him, as Reg reassured her “nothing to worry about dear, it’s just a whiff of gas, like going to the dentist”. And as he placed the shorter hose next to her nose, at his command, Beryl breathed deeply…
…and just like Muriel Eady, as her lungs filled with lethal levels of carbon monoxide, she would willingly render herself unconscious, and soon, Beryl Evans would be his; to grope, to kiss, to fondle, to fuck.
(Knocking on door) Startled by the knocking, Reg froze. (Knocking on door) With Tim out at work, the lone plasterer by the washhouse and Ethel in the front room, it could only be one other person - her friend Joan Vincent. (Knocking) “Beryl?” But – hoping she would leave - Reg remained still and silent.
(Knocking) “Beryl??” Hearing her friend’s voice, Beryl began to stir and weakly uttered a faint mumble. In panic, Reg smothered her lips with his rough hands, muffling her words. “Beryl? Are you there?”
As her legs kicked, her arms flailed and she frantically gasped for air, before she could muster enough strength to scream, Reg punched her hard in the face, knocking her out cold. “Beryl? If you don’t want to open the door, that’s fine”. And as Joan Vincent descended the creaky stairs, with both ends of his strangling rope clutched in his hands, Reg pulled tight, and the last drop of life left Beryl’s body forever.
With no privacy to do his dirty deed and no time to have his wicked way with her, as Joan chatted to Ethel just two floors below, Reg dragged Beryl’s body into the unlit bedroom, and although her mouth and nose was bloodied, slowly forming a plan, he masked the long dark bruise around her neck with the top of the quilt, and left her, in bed, just a few feet from Geraldine. (Baby crying / End)
On Wednesday 30th November 1949 at 3:10pm, a tired and dishevelled Timothy Evans walked into Merthyr Vale Police Station and confessed to disposing of his wife’s body, by stating “between about one and two in the morning I got my wife downstairs. I opened my front door at 10 Rillington Place, and pushed her body head first into the drain. After that, I got my baby looked after. I quit my job. I sold my furniture. Then I caught the train to Merthyr Vale and I’ve been here since. That’s the lot”.
But as a regular drinker, an abusive husband and a known fantasist, who even his own mother referred to as a “terrible liar”, his heartfelt confession didn’t ring true.
And having lied to Thomasina that his wife and child were on holiday to Brighton, lied to Uncle Con & Auntie Vi that he was on a business trip to Wales; lied to a furniture dealer, a pawnbroker and a rag-trader about why he was selling all of his and his wife’s possessions, having lied to The Christie’s about why they had so hastily moved out of Rillington Place and – having discovered Beryl’s body; not down the drain, but hidden in the communal washhouse, bundled in a green table cloth and tied with a length of clothesline – with the autopsy confirming that no interference had taken place which was consistent with an abortion, the Police knew that Timothy Evans had lied about his wife’s death.
As it was clear, that 20 year old Beryl Evans had died by strangulation… and so had Geraldine.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
If you enjoyed parts one to four, part five of The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place continues next Thursday. And if you’re a murky miler, stay tuned for some wibbly gob dribble after the break, but before that, here’s my recommended podcasts of the week; which are Point Blank and The Ladykillers Podcast. (PLAY PROMO)
A thank you this week to Trevor Williams, who very kindly made a much-needed donation to keep the Murder Mile True-Crime Podcast afloat, via the Murder Mile website. Thank you Trevor, you’re a super star. And a special thank you to everyone who recently left us a review on iTunes or your podcast app’, and anyone who has spread the good word about Murder Mile on social media, and in person, it really is very much appreciated. So I thank you.
Murder Mile was researched, written and performed by myself, with the main musical themes written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name.
Thank you for listening and sleep well.
Credits: The Murder Mile true-crime podcast was researched, written and recorded by Michael J Buchanan-Dunne, with the sounds recorded on location (where possible), and the music written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name. Additional music was written and performed by various artists, as used under the Creative Common Agreement 4.0. A list of tracks used and the links are listed on the relevant transcript blog here.
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 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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