Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast - #135: Daniel Gonzales - The Lost Boy (Part One)
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EPISODE ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FIVE:
Today’s episode is the first in a four-part series on Daniel Gonzales. Dubbed the ‘Freddy Krueger killer’, his two-day killing-spree across London and the South-East of England left two injured and four dead. But why did he kill? Was he bad, or mad?
As many photos of the case are copyright protected by greedy news organisations, to view them, take a peek at my entirely legal social media accounts - Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
This is the location of Platform 4 of the southbound Northern Line tube at Tottenham Court Road tube where Daniel Gonzales was arrested. It is marked with a fuscia cross near the words 'Tottenham Court Road'. To use the map, click it. If you want to see the other murder maps, access them by clicking here.
Here's two little videos of the location of Daniel's arrest; on the left was taken recently by myself, and on the right is Platform 4 of the Northern Line at Tottenham Court Road tube - the same location - as used in the horror film An American Werewolf in London. It's odd that a horror movie fan would be arrested in such a synonymous spot.
SOURCES: This series is predominently based on the Mental Health Inquest into the treamtent and care of Daniel Gonzales, as well as various news sourcesm some included below:
UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE:
SCRIPT: Welcome to Murder Mile; a true-crime podcast and audio guided walk featuring many of London’s untold, unsolved and long-forgotten murders, all set within and beyond the West End.
Today’s episode is the first in a four-part series on Daniel Gonzales. Dubbed the ‘Freddy Krueger killer’, his two-day killing-spree across London and the South-East of England left two injured and four dead. But why did he kill? Was he bad, or mad?
Murder Mile is researched using authentic sources. It contains moments of satire, shock and grisly details. And as a dramatization of the real events, it may also feature loud and realistic sounds, so that no matter where you listen to this podcast, you’ll feel like you’re actually there.
My name is Michael, I am your tour-guide and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 135: Daniel Gonzales: The Lost Boy – Part One.
Today I’m standing in Tottenham Court Road tube station, W1; one street west of the Denmark Place Fire, one street north of the murder or suicide of Freddie Mills, one street south of the Corner House Killer and a few streets north of diminished responsibility of Joe Gynane - coming soon to Murder Mile.
Under St Giles’ Circus at the junction of Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road and New Oxford Street sits Tottenham Court Road tube station. Opened in 1900 as part of Central London Railway, TCR intersects the Central Line, Northern Line and soon Crossrail, carrying almost forty million passengers every year.
Pandemic or not, a quick trip on the London tube is a grim experience at best. With sticky seats, dirty air and long lines of muttering morons moaning about the next train being a whole minute away, the dizzying infestation of rats running along the tunnels (where they recently rediscovered the plague) is a nice distraction, but it’s no more disgusting that the lady I witnessed cutting her toenails on the train.
As with much of London’s public transport, it’s had a sad history of disasters, terrorism and accidents; experiencing everything from stabbings, to shootings, to pushers, even to assassinations.
On Friday 17th September 2004 at 12:17pm, on Platform 4 of the southbound Northern Line - where blood-hungry lycanthrope David Kesler savaged a commuter in An American Werewolf in London - 24-year-old avid horror-movie fan Daniel Gonzales would be arrested for real. Having travelled 140 miles with an eight-inch knife, a Jason Voorhees mask and a dream of being “Freddy Krueger for the day”, he had left trail of bloody bodies in his wake. And although still keen to notch-up a score of ‘ten dead’, to be hailed among the pantheon of infamous maniacs, his killing-spree came to an unremarkable end.
As always, the tabloids drooled over every lurid detail of this gory tale; about his drugs, his knives, his method and especially the blood. Fixated on the monster behind-the-mask, Daniel was branded as a maniac born out of pure evil, like Freddy Krueger himself. But what they missed was the true-story.
But the real horror was not the murders, but a mental health system in crisis; which failed his victims, his mother and this lonely little boy lost inside his own mind... repeatedly ignored until he killed.
As it was here, following the arrival of two British Transport Police officers, that Daniel’s diagnosis was first taken seriously. But still the question would remain; was he bad, or was he mad? (Interstitial)
(Daniel) “I was bored. I had a rubbish life. I wanted to know what it felt like to kill as many people as possible. I felt wicked doing it. This is something I live for. It’s a really good buzz – killing”.
On Friday 17th March 2006, at the Old Bailey, Daniel Gonzales was convicted of the attempted murders of Peter King and Koumis Constantinou, and the murders of Marie Harding, Kevin Molloy and Derek & Jean Robinson. Six strangers chosen at random, brutally butchered without an ounce of compassion.
Having deliberated for ninety minutes, the jury dismissed any notion that his crimes were guided by a mental illness, as “being in his right mind”, he was found guilty of murder and nothing less.
Judge Ann Goddard QC would state “you have brought unspeakable misery and grief to the families of those you killed. Your actions have put fear into their lives. You killed four people, and on each occasion, you went out to kill. You armed yourself with a knife, you chose who to kill and where to kill, in places where there would be no witnesses. In my view this is a case where life should mean life".
Daniel was sentenced to six life terms, one for each victim, with it later extended to a whole life tariff. Throughout his arrest, investigation and trial, Daniel relished in his glory and showed no remorse.
He was psychopath, pure and simple, and although his history of mental illness was raised in court, there was no denying the immutable facts - Daniel had callously planned and executed every murder.
Upon his conviction, Daniel’s mother gave her condolences to those her son had murdered. But rightly, she criticised the injustice she had witnessed, time and time again, as "every time we asked for help, or Daniel did himself, we were told we would have to wait for a crisis to occur”.
A crisis did occur...
...four people had died...
...by then, it was too late.
But this wasn’t a one-off. As being bounced between doctors, dismissed as a fraud and stuck in an inexcusable vacuum of referrals, not a single department took full responsibility for Daniel’s diagnosis or treatment for almost two decades. And it all began, when he was just a boy.
(VHS rewind) 21st June 1980. Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. Daniel Julian Gonzales was born. His birth was fine, his weight was right and there were no major medical issues. As starts go, his upbringing was ordinary and uneventful, being a healthy happy boy to Lesley Savage and her husband Julian Gonzales.
Home was Southwood Avenue in the village of Knaphill in Woking; a ring of post-war homes with neat gardens, sloping drives and surrounded by country walks and golf courses. It was a nice place to live.
As many marriages do, in 1986, when Daniel was six, his parents separated and later divorced. But keen to give his life stability, they kept it amicable; Lesley remarried, Steven Harper became Danny’s step-dad and although Julian had moved to Spain, this father and son remained in close contact.
So far, unremarkable.
Problems began in nursery. Being bright, he lacked the social skills to interact. But Daniel was different, as his mother would later state “he was extremely intelligent but extremely disruptive... he could be absolutely charming but also very manipulative”, which some put down to him being an only-child.
At primary school, he excelled but becoming more insular, he regressed inside his own mind and spoke to no-one; except himself, an imaginary friend and the volatile fights he would inflict on his mum. For Lesley, the warning signs were there, “I didn’t know something was going to happen, but I was scared”.
At secondary school, his first mental-health assessment was made by an educational psychologist who diagnosed him with Dysgraphia – a learning difficulty affecting his ability to write, which didn’t explain any other symptom. Aged 15, he was expelled, but being permitted to finish his exams, he graduated with eight GCSE’s and went on to study Spanish and drama at Brooklands College, but dropped out.
(Typing) 28th November 1996. Daniel was referred to the Frimley Children’s Centre in Camberley, but he wasn’t given a psychiatric assessment at that time, instead he was seen by a social worker.
It’s easy to dismiss his doctors as incompetent, but as an inquest would later state “his illness was atypical and the lack of acute episodes or consistent symptoms made diagnosis difficult”. In his teens, he was troubled, but he wasn’t a monster; he had issues, but he could be as ordinary as any other boy.
Which is why the murder trial revolved around one important question; was he bad, or was he mad?
With no routine, Daniel’s mental health declined. (Daniel) “I haven’t had a job for four years; I haven’t had a girlfriend for ages. I couldn’t handle growing up to be a man. I just couldn’t take it any more”.
In 1997, he had two attempts at employment organised by his mum, a job in a bank and at Blockbuster Video, but the longest lasted a week as he couldn’t concentrate and often got exasperated and angry.
To fill his hours of solitude - as moody teens often do - he played football by himself, he glared at his PlayStation from dawn till dusk, and took recreational drugs like cannabis, as he said it kept him calm. But years later, as his need grew, he began to abuse skunk, LSD, ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines.
With music and movies often blamed for the downfall of youth by those who abbreviate each medium down to its basest level (beats, drugs, blood); Daniel listened Doomcore; a dark ultra-fast techno full of violent themes, sinister tones and a heart-paralysing 500 beats-per-minute, and watched slasher films like Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Hallowe’en, where a masked knife-wielding essence of evil stalks his screaming victims. But then again, who doesn’t have an unhealthy obsession?
Aged 16, he committed his first criminal offences, including shoplifting and assault, during which he bit a bus-driver’s ear. In October 1997, he was placed on a two-year Probation Order and – having said that he was hearing voices – he was sent to a drugs counsellor. But unable to diagnose his condition, they resorted to clinical default and Daniel’s symptoms were blamed on “a drug-induced psychosis”.
In April 1997, with his exasperated mother struggling to cope with a fully-grown, physically strong and wildly unpredictable son – being at her wits end and with very little help from mental health services – Lesley took a brave decision. She placed her son with Mr & Mrs Sloane; a foster family who were trained to deal with his psychotic behaviour, and later, a new carer called Steve Price, who informed every necessary department that Daniel “was at a potential high risk of violence and/or suicide”.
(Typing) February 1998. Daniel was admitted under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act to an open psychiatric unit at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, having harmed himself by punching a window. But before the assessment was even complete, he was discharged by a Mental Health Review Tribunal.
After scores of letters and calls, in which his mother repeatedly pleaded (sometimes in bold capitals) with the words “I NEED HELP!”, Lesley was dismissed, ignored and re-referred to another “specialist”.
On 22nd June 1998 - six years before his killing-spree - in a letter to the Director of Surrey Social Services Lesley wrote these prophetic words – “Does Daniel have to murder or be murdered before he can get the treatment he so badly needs?" – words she would repeat, again, and again, and again.
(VHS Fast-Forward). Wednesday 15th September 2004. Day one. Victim one. 24-year-old Daniel packed his rucksack with a set of spare clothes, a Jason Voorhees-style hockey mask and two five-inch steak knives, which he jabbed at the plastic washing-up bowl to gee himself up, muttering “come on boy”.
His motive was simple, “I wanted to kill as many people as possible, as many as ten”, and see himself in the serial killer hall of fame. “It took two days to plan”. And as the prosecutor would state “because of the callous person he is, it was his personality that led him to kill, not a cocktail of drugs and alcohol".
At 9am, Daniel left Southwood Avenue, hopped on a bus at Knaphill High Street to Woking Station, he caught a train to Portsmouth Harbour, travelled 49 miles south and got off at Hilsea. Leaving the train at about 11:20am, he walked one mile north-west to Hilsea Lines; an 19th century gun-emplacement along Portsbridge Creek - a lush woodland full of leafy canopies, dark gullies and narrow paths.
11:40am. With his heart pounding, a steak knife gripped in his sweaty palm and the four familiar voices inside his head spitting words - which he described as a drip-drip-drip “like water-torture”, each telling him to “kill, kill, kill, kill” - his dream of being “Freddy Krueger for the day” was about to become reality.
Peter & Janice King were a couple in their sixties taking their dog for a walk. But to Daniel, their names were unimportant, as all they represented were his first two notches on his serial-killer scorecard.
“Kill, kill, kill, kill”. Daniel entered the path. “Kill, kill, kill, kill”. The knife at his side. “Kill, kill, kill, kill”. And like his horror-movie heroes; (“kill, kill, kill, kill”) he stalked, he was silent and then he struck.
With the voices screaming “knife em, knife em, knife em”, Daniel lunged at Peter’s face with the five-inch blade, (“kill, kill, kill, kill”), slashing wildly as he wailed “I’m gonna kill you” at the unarmed man.
Only Daniel was not the epitome of pure evil like Hallowe’en’s Michael Myers, as his slashes were fast but badly-aimed, striking Peter’s chin but not his neck. And although almost three times his attacker’s age - seizing his chance - Peter grabbed Daniel’s hand and the two tumbled into the undergrowth, only for Daniel to drop the knife and flee, shouting “Sorry, I am a schizophrenic, I can’t help it” as he ran.
Peter King was taken to hospital, he received a several stitches and was released later that day.
The Police attended the scene, found the knife, but the fingerprints matched no-one on their system.
And as for Daniel’s fantasy of becoming a serial-killer, it came crashing down to earth, with the voices silenced and his face smacking hard on the concrete of reality. But he wouldn’t give up in his mission to “kill as many as possible... maybe ten”, as all he would need was someone more vulnerable.
(VHS Rewind). 14th September 1998. Daniel’s first crisis meeting, attended by social services, youth justice services, children’s services and the community mental health team. All agreed that Daniel was a “potential high risk of violence and/or suicide”, but a psychiatrist stated “I felt that he was probably psychotic, but I did not think he was sectionable because of his lucidity and lack of a delusions”.
Five days later, Daniel was sectioned.
From 28th September 1998 to 14th April 1999, Daniel was committed to Oaktree Psychiatric Clinic, under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act, but later, Sections 35, 36, 37 and 136, having beaten himself over the head with a saucepan, with his behaviour described as “like a wild animal in a cage”.
Daniel was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, treated with anti-psychotic drugs, and opened-up about the four voices in his head; who told him what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and why. They each had a name and their own personality. There was Katrina, Misha, Melinda and Jenny Bean.
His mother had seen it herself “I knew he could see someone because he would look at them and talk. I would say ‘Daniel, what were you doing; who were you talking to?’, but he would always deny it”.
Over the last two years; Daniel had been diagnosed with four separate conditions, supervised by seven different doctors, repeatedly sectioned, discharged, referred and trialled on a cocktail of psychiatric drugs, including Chloromazine, Olanzapine, Thioridazine, Pipothiazine, Sulpiride and Procyclidine.
But finally, having been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, he was given the right medication, counselling and regular support, he was weaned off recreation drugs and was making progress.
Only, once he was discharged, that consistency ceased.
In his own words, Daniel told an inquest: “To have proper care, you need a doctor to follow your path and to cross-examine you thoroughly. If I was seeing someone two or three times a week, that’s at least something”.
But he wasn’t.
As Lesley re-iterated “Despite our pleas, Daniel was left without the support he so desperately needed. We met individual decent caring professionals who were dedicated and hard-working, but even they could not sustain any support over time, as Daniel was moved from one service to another".
As for his medication, they tempered the voices and delusions, but every drug comes with side-effects. With many anti-psychotics, these would include agitation, tremors and muscle rigidity, which some patients describe as like “living in a cocoon”, “barely a life” and to some “it’s like being in hell”.
Dismissing his medication, Daniel returned to the recreational drugs which he trusted to kept him calm – cannabis and ketamine – but didn’t imprison him inside his own body. But any withdrawal came with their own side-effects. On separate holidays in Canada and Spain, his father and mother both saw a boy in absolute mental despair - “he was completely bizarre, scary... we were frightened to death”.
Without a regular routine or consistent care, his boredom returned and he was back at square one.
In August 2007 – three years after the murders - an independent investigation concluded that Daniel “was not treated successfully, health professionals never engaged with him effectively, and it was a case of missed opportunities”. But as “his illness was atypical and lacked acute episodes or symptoms”, North West Surrey Mental Health Partnership would declare that as the murders were "not preceded by a history of violence, therefore we do not believe that his actions could have been predicted".
Which was true.
His criminal record was short and insignificant; theft, shoplifting, drug possession, non-compliance of community orders and one case of burglary. Aged 16, he had one charge of assault having bit a bus-driver’s ear during an altercation, but his report showed “no-known violence since”. He had no arrests for weapons, stalking, cruelty, arson, GHB, ABH or manslaughter – as would be expected - he had threatened others (mostly verbally) and his history of physical violence was predominantly self-harm.
On paper, this was not a serial-killer in the making...
...but the warning signs were there, and again Lesley’s prophetic words would come back to bite them; “Does Daniel have to murder or be murdered before he can get the treatment he so badly needs?"
(VHS Fast-Forward) Wednesday 15th September 2004. Day one. Victim two. As detectives swarmed Hilsea Lines to investigate the motiveless stabbing of Peter King, Daniel caught the train to Fishergate, 43 miles east along the English south coast and walked two miles north-west to Thundersbarrow Hill; a beauty spot of open fields and shrouded woods, on the edge of the Highdown residential estate.
As before, he stood, watched and waited – (Daniel) “I went to the first place I could go to kill someone” - but having been overpowered by his first victim, now he would wait for someone more vulnerable.
73-year-old pensioner Marie Harding was a lovely lady. Described as "the nicest kindest and dearest person you could imagine", she was a well-loved die-hard supporter Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club, who worked in the club’s ticket office, where “she always had a smile for everybody". She was a loving wife to husband Jim, loyal mother to Julie and a dedicated grandmother to Natalie and Daniel.
As was her routine, having visited her family on nearby Oakdene Crescent, Marie was walking home.
The day was sunny, fresh and bright. It was the kind of day you would take a stroll in the woods.
The exact time of the attack is unknown.
With his heart pounding, (“kill, kill, kill, kill”) a steak knife in his palm, (“kill, kill, kill, kill”) and the drip-drip-drip of four sinister voices splitting his head like water torture (“kill, kill, kill, kill”), as the small frail lady tottered onto the secluded path (“kill, kill, kill, kill”), donning an ominous white hockey mask just like his horror-movie hero; (“kill, kill, kill, kill”), from behind, he stalked, was silent, then he struck.
“I put my hand on her mouth and stabbed” as his cold blade slit through her back. “She was screaming” and as her bleeding body dropped like a dead-weight onto the leafy path, “I slit her throat”. Silencing her, as he stole £20 from her purse. His callous logic? “It was a dead person, why not take her money”.
Only Marie wasn’t dead, but dying. Paralysed, bleeding and gasping for breath, she felt a numbness as a chill enveloped her and her cooling blood drained into the newly-sodden soil. And there, as this terrified woman lay – helpless, alone but barely alive - seeing her cowardly assailant flee into the dim distance, as the good life she had lived slowly ebbed away. (Fade to silence, voices replaced by birds).
At 4:20pm, a dog-walker found the body of Marie Harding. But to Daniel, her name meant nothing, she was just a number. His first notch on the scoreboard and his place in serial-killer infamy. (End)
Thousands of football fans paid tribute to Marie with a minute’s silence at their next game. Her family were devastated, her town was is disbelief and the police were at a loss. With no witnesses, no weapon and very little forensics, all they had was a senseless killing by an unknown assailant, similar to the attack on Peter King, for which they had no suspect who matched the fingerprints or description.
There is no denying, Daniel Gonzales did commit this murder. At his trial, evidence included CCTV footage of his journeys, the tickets and travel cards he purchased, his hockey mask was spattered with Marie’s DNA, he made a full confession, and a key piece of evidence used to convict him was his diary.
On the train journey home, he wrote “I will be a serial killer. I mean it. I promise. I will be a serial killer”. Writing of her last moments, “I got that old bitch proper, bloodbath, pouring out of her throat, boy, McFlurry! I got to say this, it felt really, really, really good. One of the best things I’ve done in my life”.
Three hours later, Daniel was back home in Knaphill, sitting in his bedroom, as seen by his mother at 7.15pm. It was as if nothing had happened and therefore, nobody was none the wiser.
At his trial for the murder of Marie Harding and three others, the judge would ask “was he mad, or bad?” And having been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, surely that answered the question?
But was Daniel Gonzales really a paranoid schizophrenic, or (as some professionals suspected) was this wannabe spree-killer manipulating his symptoms and failures in the system to avoid prison?
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
That was part one of four of Daniel Gonzales – The Lost Boy.
As always, if you enjoyed that episode, stay tuned after the break for some cake, a cuppa, some waffle, and lots of extra details about this case. But before that, a true-crime promo. Oooh.
A big thank you to my new Patreon supporters, who are; Absinthe, Lynda Fyfe, Claire Gibson, Menna Lukey, Sarah Pightling, Amanda Simms, Queen Jay, Anne-Marie Griffin, Rikke Vej (Rick-eh Viy) and Mark Dunstan. I thank you, the coots thank you and even the greedy swans thank you.
Plus a thank you to everyone who shares a link to Murder Mile on social media. It’s not easy being an tiny little handmade independent podcast trying to compete with the big corporate giants who spend millions of advertising, so every personal recommendation is very much appreciated.
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.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER
The Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast has been researched using the original declassified police investigation files, court records, press reports and as many authentic sources as possible, which are freely available in the public domain, including eye-witness testimony, confessions, autopsy reports, first-hand accounts and independent investigation, where possible. But these documents are only as accurate as those recounting them and recording them, and are always incomplete or full of opinion rather than fact, therefore mistakes and misrepresentations can be made. As stated at the beginning of each episode (and as is clear by the way it is presented) Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast is a 'dramatisation' of the events and not a documentary, therefore a certain amount of dramatic licence, selective characterisation and story-telling (within logical reason and based on extensive research) has been taken to create a fuller picture. It is not a full and complete representation of the case, the people or the investigation, and therefore should not be taken as such. It is also often (for the sake of clarity, speed and the drama) presented from a single person's perspective, usually (but not exclusively) the victim's, and therefore it will contain a certain level of bias and opinion to get across this single perspective, which may not be the overall opinion of those involved or associated. Murder Mile is just one possible retelling of each case. Murder Mile does not set out to cause any harm or distress to those involved, and those who listen to the podcast or read the transcripts provided should be aware that by accessing anything created by Murder Mile (or any source related to any each) that they may discover some details about a person, an incident or the police investigation itself, that they were unaware of.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER
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", one of The Telegraph's top five true-crime podcasts and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totaling 50 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
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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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