Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast #52 - The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place - Part Five (Geraldine 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-Two: On Thursday 10th November 1949, fourteen month old Geraldine Evans went missing from 10 Rillington Place. According to her father (Timothy Evans) she had gone on holiday with her mother (Beryl) to Brighton... only this wasn't true, and Tim knew it.
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Ep52 – The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place – Part Five (Geraldine Evans)
INTRO: Guilt. A powerful emotion triggered when we believe we have compromised a law, rule or moral code of our society or own standards, and (in turn) accept responsibility for that violation. Guilt guides our actions, our beliefs and our opinions; it protects us, binds us and shapes our lives.
But just like a lie, being fuelled by the heart and not the head, guilt can be subjective. So no matter what part a person has played in that violation - with their perceived level of guilt defined by their own emotional barometer – whatever the truth, blame can be shifted, roles twisted and reality distorted, to the point where the innocent feel truly responsible, and the guilty remain blameless.
Being complicit in the failure of his wife’s abortion, her untimely death and her unlawful burial, having destroyed evidence, lied and fled, and deeply missing his baby daughter, twenty-four year old Timothy John Evans walked into Merthyr Vale police station and made a confession. But with his statement littered with lies, his own words had protected the real culprit and condemned himself to 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 five of the full, true and untold story of The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place.
SCRIPT: Today, I’m standing on Bartle Road, W11; a residential side street just off St Mark’s Road in Ladbroke Grove. To my right is a long line of modern four-storey brown-bricked terraced houses, to my left are several lock-ups under the arches of the overhead tube-line, behind is the ominous shadow of the Grenfell Tower and in front (just like it was in the 1940’s) is a garage and petrol station.
Named after the Bartle James Iron Works, originally situated at its bottom end, Bartle Road was built in 1979, after the 1970’s slum-clearances saw many derelict Victorian houses demolished. Being new, this street isn’t filled with blue plaques which espouse fascinating titbits about semi-famous people who were once residents, like at 7 Bruce Grove in Tottenham, where a plaque on the home of a famed meteorologist proudly lists him as “Luke Howard – namer of clouds”, at 48 Welbeck Street where Thomas Young is hailed simply as a “man of science”, and at 6 Wimpole Street, where noted surgeon Sir Frederick Treves lived… and yet, the plaque fails to mention that (at that time, in that house) his lodger was none-other than Joseph Carey Merrick, infamously known as The Elephant Man.
Some streets take pride in their history, where-as Bartle Road does not and for good reason. As after the last resident left in 1971 and prior to its demolition, the street on which Bartle Road now stands, was a dark and dreary dead-end called Rushton Close, which had been hastily renamed in May 1953 to disguise its infamous horrors, as this was originally Rillington Place.
And although a few remnants of Reg Christie’s beloved garden still exist at 26 & 29 St Andrew's Square, just one street behind, between 8 and 10 Bartle Road, there’s an odd break in the terraced houses. As where 10 Rillington Place once stood, sits a memorial garden; with no sign, no plaque and no shrine. As it was here, on 2nd December 1949, in the back garden of 10 Rillington Place, that the Police would discover the decomposing bodies of two females. (Interstitial)
(Echo of voices) Timothy Evans: “I want to give myself up. I have disposed of my wife”. DC Evans: “Do you realise what you are saying, sir?”, Timothy Evans “Yes, I know what I am saying. I cannot sleep and I want to get it off my chest”. (End)
On Wednesday 30th November 1949 at 6pm, barely an hour after Tim’s confession, Detective Inspector George Jennings and Detective Sergeant James Black of Notting Hill Police Station searched the second floor flat at 10 Rillington Place. As expected, it was empty; no furniture, no clothes and no people, just two suitcases, a pram and a high-chair, left in the safe-keeping of the Christie’s.
So far, everything about Tim’s confession rang true…
…and yet, if his wife had died and been disposed of the way he’d described, why had he sold everything they owned? Why had he pawned his wife’s wedding ring? And – more importantly – why had he told his family, his friends, his employer, the furniture dealer, the pawn-broker, the rag-trader and the Christie’s that Beryl had gone on holiday to her father’s in Brighton, but to the Police, he said that she was dead, and that he had disposed of her body down the drain?
Two hours after dusk, with the street full of giggling kids, gossiping neighbours and with Reg eagerly watching from the doorway; outside of the ground-floor bay-window of 10 Rillington Place, the Police pried up the cast-iron man-hole cover, and armed with flashlights, they peered inside into the sewer.
At 9pm, Detective Constable Evans commenced his interview of Timothy John Evans in Merthyr Vale police station, and having heard back from the Notting Hill police, he confronted Tim with what they had found down the drain – nothing - the body of Beryl Evans wasn’t there.
And as Tim the terrible liar indignantly replied “well I put her in there”, being incapable of sustaining the story, as his lies unravelled, the detective probed Tim further; (DC Evans) “is it a man hole?” (Tim) “I expect so”, (DC Evans) “who helped you lift it?” (Tim) “I did it myself”, but when faced with the stark reality that (DC Evans) “impossible, it took three officers to lift the cover off”, as he began to realise he was digging his own grave, for the first time in a long while, Tim began to tell the truth.
At 9:10pm, just four hours after his first confession, began the second confession of Timothy John Evans… and this - as far as we know - is the nearest we’ll ever get to the truth.
(Echo of voices) Tim: “…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”, Christie: “if only you or your wife had come to me in the first place, I could have done it without any risk… one out of every seven women die”, Tim: “…tell Mr Christie everything is okay”, Christie: “I thought you might like a cup of tea”, and “nothing to worry about dear, it’s just a whiff of gas, like going to the dentist”.
On the evening of Tuesday 8th November 1949, having finished his shift as a van-driver for Lancaster Food Products, Tim returned home to 10 Rillington Place.
As he pushed open the dark wooden door, beyond the oddly subdued greeting of Judy, at the far end of the drab grey hallway stood Reg; his bald head bowed, his hands behind his back. Eagerly Tim asked “well?”, but Reg didn’t reply. Instead, taking a lengthy breath, he sighed and softly uttered “go on upstairs Tim, I’ll follow you up”. His presence was calm yet controlling, and as they ascended the stairs in silence, the only sounds heard, were the slow creak of wood and the soft squeak of Reg’s plimsolls.
Inside, the second-floor flat was dark and empty, as behind them Reg closed the door. Nothing seemed out of place, in fact the kitchen was as Tim had left it that morning, and with the baby asleep in her cot, all that was missing was Beryl, so Tim asked again “well?” But this time, Reg’s face said it all, “it’s bad news Tim, it didn’t work”. (Tim) “Where’s Beryl?”, (Reg) “She’s lying on the bed”.
With the curtains drawn and the lights out, the bedroom was in darkness, but hearing his baby grizzling after a long nap, Geraldine’s gurgling was reassuring as he lit the gas-lamp. Bathing the pokey room in a shadowy yellow flicker, Tim turned to see the small familiar shape of his wife, in bed, a quilt from her feet to her chin. (Tim) “Beryl?” he gently cooed to his sickly wife, but she didn’t reply. Tim stroked her hand, thinking she was sleeping, but with the soft warmth of her delicate fingers replaced by five frozen and rigid digits, Tim gulped, as he now knew that Beryl was dead.
(Reg) “It was her stomach, septic poisoning we call it, from all those pills she was taking”. Seeing his dead wife through a blur of tears, Tim tried to ask why her face was bloodied, but as his lips stuttered, there was no-way that a feeble fantasist with a child-like brain could compete with a superior intellect. And as Reg reiterated “one in seven women die, I said. If only you or your wife had come to me in the first place, I could have done it without any risk”, he led Tim to the kitchen, and away from precisely positioned quilt which disguised the bruise across Beryl’s neck, and – more importantly - Reg’s guilt.
As Tim’s world collapsed, Reg stood beside him, offering his fatherly advice and a few home comforts, and as Reg brewed a tea on the hob, Tim cuddled Geraldine by the warmth of the fire.
“We have to go to the Police” Tim pleaded, but being ready with his retort, Reg replied “The police? And tell them what?” his eyes as wide as headlamps, unblinking and still. Reg knew how to bait him, it wasn’t difficult as being such a simple lad he was easily duped. And yet, without any hint of irony, Tim replied “I’ll tell them the truth” - a word which sounded strange as it spewed out of his mouth.
(Reg) “Oh Tim, who do you think the Police will suspect…?”
And it was true, as a heavy-drinker with a fiery temper, a string of bad debts and a criminal record, it was well-known from Ladbroke Grove to Merthyr Vale that Tim was a terrible liar (flashbacks - Tim) “my father’s an Italian Count”, “I need a loan as my baby’s gravely ill”, “it’s a managerial job at De Havilland” (end) and with their regular rows (flashback – Tim) “I’ll bloody do you in, I will”, witnessed by every resident in Rillington Place, (Tim) “I’ll push you through the bloody window”, the most violent having occurred just two months earlier (Tim) “I’ll smash her up and run her over in my van”, which was reported to the Police, (Reg) “… they’ll think you killed her during one of your fights?”
Tim knew he was right. (Reg) “No, it’s best we make it look like she went away… on a holiday”. And as a Catholic, although the thought of hiding Beryl’s body and depriving her of a church service, a burial and a grave made him physically sick, (Reg) “Well that’s the only thing I can do…”, Reg fired back with the clincher which would prey on the simple boy’s guilt (Reg) “…otherwise I’ll get into trouble with the Police. You wouldn’t want that, would you?” And in three short words - (Tim) “No Mr Christie” - Reg took complete control of Tim.
Instructed to look after the baby, having changed her nappy, Tim made her a cup of tea and a boiled egg. Being just fourteen months old, as Geraldine hugged her stuffed rabbit and her daddy dangled a set of Dandy Jinglers hoping to distract her, she was blissfully unaware that her mum was dead. But from the bedroom, with a dull thump, Reg dragged her dead mother’s corpse.
With each heave and pull, Reg wheezed and panted, as he struggled to haul the lifeless body into the landing. She was only seven and a half stone, but being just a little fella himself, whose back played merry-hell and whose dicky tummy often left him bog-bound, Beryl’s body was a dead-weight.
(Reg) “Here, give us a hand, lad” Reg huffed, and dutifully, Tim did. Clutching her chilly ankles, as they carried her cadaver down to the currently vacant first-floor flat of Mr Kitchener, with Reg’s arms flat over her chest, rucking her blue woollen jacket right up to her neck, the strangulation scar was hidden.
There, Beryl’s body was dumped on the hard-wooden floor; slumped in a crumpled heap like a bag of old rags. It didn’t seem real, his wife was dead and he was to blame, but this wasn’t one of Tim’s fanciful tales told to his pals over a few pints, this was reality - something Tim knew nothing about.
Through stuttering sobs, Tim stammered “so… where will you put her?” Tim didn’t want to know, but he knew he had to know, and although Reg’s reply was oddly clinical and almost inhuman, (Reg) “I’ll dispose of it down the drain”, Tim said nothing, he just nodded, knowing Reg was right.
(Reg) “You’d better go to bed now and leave the rest to me”, Reg said, and as he handed the distraught boy the wedding ring he had yanked off her stiff finger (Reg) “there you are lad, sell it”, over the next few days, in a dizzy daze of exhaustion and confusion, Tim would do whatever Reg said.
(Tim) “Mr Christie said (Reg) “the best thing you can do is to disappear, get out of London somewhere”. So I just said “Alright”.
The next day, on Wednesday 9th November, (Tim) “I got up, fed and changed the baby and put her in her cot. I saw Christie before I went to work and he told me that he would feed her during the day. I had wanted to take the baby to my mother but he said not to, as it would cause suspicion. He told me that he knew a young couple in East Acton who would look after her”.
That evening, (Tim) “Christie told me they’d be here in the morning to take the baby and said to pack-up some clothes for her, which I did”. It consisted of two large suitcases full of baby clothes, her favourite stuffed rabbit, a rag doll and a set of Dandy Jinglers, as well as a pram and a high chair which Reg promised to drop round to the couple later in the week.
Being their last night together (for a while), as Tim sobbed by the warmth of the kitchen fire, he kissed and cuddled his baby daughter - her skin was as soft as warm marshmallows, her rosy cheeks as bright as the pink woollen coat she wore and her smell was a familiar mix of milk and talc. And truly believing he was doing what was best for his baby, he hoped that (someday soon) he would see her again…
…only he wouldn’t.
Under Reg’s instruction, over the next four days, Tim erased his and his family’s existence; he quit his job at Lancaster Food Products, told his mother that his wife and child had gone on holiday to Brighton, sold his furniture to Robert Hookway for £40; including a three-piece oak suite, a kitchen table, a folding chair, a six foot bed and even the lino off the floor, and having sliced-up his wife’s clothes and the quilt into strips, two anonymous bundles of assorted cloth were handed to a local rag merchant.
By 1pm, on Monday 14th November, the second-floor flat was bare and hollow. There was no hint that a family had once lived there, no clue as to where they had gone and no evidence that a murder had taken place. And with no reason to stay, Tim closed the door, never to return to 10 Rillington Place.
(Tim) “Christie asked me where I was going to go and I said I didn’t know. Then I got my suitcase I took it up to Paddington, left it at the left luggage department until half past midnight, and caught the five to one train to Cardiff. I got to Merthyr Vale about twenty to seven in the morning, went to Mount Pleasant and I’ve been there ever since”.
Being back in his home-town of Merthyr Vale; staying with his Uncle Con & Auntie Vi’s at 93 Mount Pleasant, a few doors down from where he was born, and being surrounded by the lush green valleys, the soft bleat of sheep and the soothing trickle of the River Taff, everything felt reassuring and safe.
But for the next two weeks, Tim wouldn’t sleep, as every night he silently wept; his heart breaking for each day that he didn’t see his baby daughter, his mind flashing with horrifying images of his dead wife and his soul crushed by the thought of her body dumped in a rat-infested sewer. And with Reg Christie no longer here to guide him, the feeble little lies of Timothy Evans started to unravel.
With very little making sense and Tim struggling to remember which lie he had told to who - such as; why he was in Wales, how long he was staying, why had Beryl walked out on him, why had she gone to stay with her father in Brighton, why had she left Geraldine with Thomasina and why did he have his wife’s wedding ring in his jacket pocket - with Tim growing ever more angry and evasive whenever Beryl was mentioned, Uncle Con telegrammed his mum. This was her reply.
From Thomasina Probert to Cornelius & Violet Lynch. “Dear brother & sister. Well Vi, I don’t know what lies Tim has told you down there, I know nothing about them as I have not seen him for three weeks, and I have not seen Beryl or the baby for a month. Tim came to me to tell me that Beryl and the baby had gone to Brighton to see her father for a holiday. That is all I know about them. Ask Tim what he had done with all the rented furniture in his flat. You can tell him from me, I never want to see him again as long as I live”.
Shortly before this letter arrived, Uncle Con received a telegram from Beryl’s father, in it he confirmed that he had not seen his daughter or the baby for almost a year. And in that, Tim’s lies collapsed.
On Wednesday 30th November 1949 in Merthyr Vale police station, Tim made his first statement (Tim) “I want to give myself up. I have disposed of my wife” claiming she had died having taken some tablets.
A few hours later; with the drain checked, Beryl missing and no body found, (DC Evans) “it took three officers to lift the cover off”, Tim retracted his first statement and made a second, (Tim) “the only thing that is not true is the part about meeting the man in the café and disposing of my wife’s body. All the rest is true… I said it to protect a man called Christie”.
But when interviewed, the ex-Special Constable stated “I cannot understand why Evans should make any accusations against me, as I have been really good to him in a lot of ways. It is very well known locally that he is a liar and my wife and I have expressed the opinion that we think he is a bit mental”.
On Friday 2nd December 1949, as Tim was transported to Notting Hill police station, a full search was conducted at 10 Rillington Place. And with Tim having stripped the flat bare, sold the furniture, cut-up the clothes and the quilt, told conflicting stories, sold his wife’s wedding ring and left the Christie’s with a high-chair, a pram and two suitcases full of baby clothes, to be delivered to a “nice young couple in East Acton” who neither Reg nor Ethel had ever heard of - everything looked suspicious.
And then, at 11:50am, in the recently repaired wash-house in the back-garden of 10 Rillington Place, having pulled aside a stash of wooden slats (left by the builders for the tenants to use as firewood) Detective Inspector Jennings and Detective Sergeant Black found what they thought was a large bag of old rotten laundry stuffed under the porcelain sink and wedged against the brick wall.
(Tim flashback) “I’ll bloody do you in I will”.
Being two foot high, deep and wide, and weighing roughly seven and a half stone, as they dragged the hefty green bundle out onto the cold stone floor, the sack was dense and lumpy, with an ominous feted stench. And having snipped the length of clothesline used to keep its green tablecloth tied, as it parted aside, they spied some clothes; a blue woollen jacket, a spotted cotton blouse and a black shirt.
(Tim flashback) “I’ll push you through the bloody window”.
Inside, lay the decomposing body of Beryl Evans; bent double, her knees tucked-up to her chin, her breasts, thighs and genitals exposed. With her upper lip, chin and right eye bloodied and swollen, the pathologist concluded she had been the victim of an assault. With large fatty maggots having gnawed into her mouth and left breast, it was determined she had been dead for at least three weeks. And with a series of deep abrasions to the throat, it was irrefutable, that Beryl had been strangled.
(Tim flashback) “I’ll smash her up and run her over in my van”.
Conducted by Dr Robert Tear e, the post-mortem confirmed that (with a six and a half inch male foetus found deceased in her uterus) at the time of her death, Beryl was sixteen weeks pregnant. With no cuts or tears, it was clear that no abortion had taken place. And with deep bruising to her inner-thighs and with her parovarium ruptured, at some point before or after her death, Beryl had either been viscously kicked in the genitals, violated with a finger, or violently raped.
But behind the wooden door to the wash-house, crudely covered in timber slats and cruelly dumped on the dirty floor, Police found a second body; smaller, younger and still dressed in a pink woollen coat, a flannelette frock, a white undervest and a white cotton nappy. Her tiny lifeless body was bloated and swollen; and with her lungs collapsed, her voice-box crushed and a man’s blue tie with a red-stripe wound with sadistic tightness which imbedded an inch deep into her soft neck – just like her mum beside her - fourteen month old Geraldine Evans had been strangled to death. (End)
At 9:45pm, on Friday 2nd December 1949, in Notting Hill Police Station, twenty-four year old Timothy John Evans was shown two piles of dirty clothes by Detective Inspector Jennings; one being worn by Beryl, with the green tablecloth which bound her body; and the other, a set of pink and white baby clothes, as worn by Geraldine, and on top, was the thin striped tie which had ended her life.
Informed that both bodies were found in the wash-house at the back of 10 Rillington Place, Detective Inspector Jennings stated “I have reason to believe that you are responsible for these deaths, is that correct?” To which - being exhausted, broken and crippled with guilt - Tim simply replied “yes”.
And as an emotional and exhausted boy with a low IQ and the mental age of a child, having lost his grip on reality, that night, Tim would make his third statement to the Police, in which he confessed:
(Tim) “She was incurring one debt after another and I could not stand it no longer, so I strangled her with a piece of rope, and then took her to the washhouse after midnight. On Thursday evening I come home and I strangled my baby in our bedroom with my tie”. And having signed his name confirming that the statement was accurate and true, with a guilty sigh, Tim stated “it is a great relief to get it off my chest, I feel better already”.
On 8th December 1949, Beryl Susanna Evans was buried in a simple coffin at Gunnersbury Cemetery; it was lined with flannelette, padded with soft pillows, and between her legs, draped in a lace shroud, lay her baby daughter Geraldine. And as her husband was arrested for the murders of his wife and child, Reg Christie – the serial killer - went back to his home and his wife at 10 Rillington Place.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
If you enjoyed parts one to five of this ten part series, part six of The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place continues next Thursday. And if you’re a murky miler, stay tuned for some jolly japes, giggles and general shenanigans after the break, but before that, here’s my recommended podcasts of the week; which are Evidence Locker and Great Lakes True-Crime. (PLAY PROMO)
A big thank you to this week’s fabulous Patreon supporters whose very generous subscriptions to Murder Mile, once again, keeps the podcast chugging along, puts coal in my fire, cake in my belly and a little tipple to keep the cold out, so a big thank you to Ryan Crum, Rhian Burgess, Michael Schlepp, Hayley Grocock and Roger Remy. You are all truly amazing. And – of course – a big thank you to all of you who listen to Murder Mile. With no listeners, Murder Mile would be nothing. So 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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