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Welcome to the Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast and audio guided walk of London's most infamous and often forgotten murder cases, all set within and beyond the West End.
EPISODE ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-TWO:
Today’s episode is about a family; cursed with a history of mental illness and hereditary blindness, it’s a strange relationship where their condition both united and divide them, but with sexual abuse added into the mix, it would lead to a brutal and horrifying murder.
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 about a family cursed with a history of mental illness and hereditary blindness. It’s a strange relationship where their condition both united and divide them, but with sexual abuse added into the mix, it would lead to a brutal and horrifying murder.
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 152: Blind Obsession.
Today I’m standing... (static and muffled street sounds) somewhere in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham in West London, possibly in a flat above Ashcroft Square in Hammersmith, W6. But none of this can be verified, as the most of the details were never published and many were redacted.
If so, we’re streets from the home of one of John Monckton’s killers, the garage where the First Date Killer pulled up with Kate Beagley’s body in the boot, the house where schoolgirl Katerina Koneva died at the hands of The Beast, and the obsessions of Winston Goulbourne - coming soon to Murder Mile.
It is often said that some stories are never meant to be told, as there are deep dark secrets that exist in a family which no-one would dare to discuss until someone steps over the line of what is right and wrong. This is a case which did not appear on the TV news and it barely made it into any papers, which is why – at times – the details may be vague and many statements cannot be independently verified.
A detailed report by the mental health trust provided a fascinating insight into the life of the young woman involved, and although she was only referred to as Ms T, we know her name was Maria Calero.
What follows is some of her story. (Interstitial)
(Static) The date was Sunday 17th June 2007. It was early morning, at roughly 3am. And as for the exact location, that was never disclosed, but it was possibly a flat somewhere off Ashcroft Square.
From an upstairs window, two unidentified boys, aged 12 and 13 attracted the attention of a passer-by having been locked inside their bedroom. With no smoke, alarms nor screams, this could have been a prank? Only the children were in a state of panic; not in fear for themselves, but for someone else.
The Police were called and concerned for the boy’s welfare, they gained entry. Physically, they were unharmed, but mentally they had been through an ordeal, having heard a man being cruelly tortured.
On the floor lay their father – Eduardo; slumped in a cold motionless puddle of his own blood, his walls and doors were spattered red as a kitchen knife and a set of scissors has ceaselessly severed his veins and arteries. As across his once-clean carpet, the sticky shadows of his bloodied hand-prints lay where the terrified man had dragged his body far from his assailants, leaving a long red trail like a dying slug.
It was a brutal murder by someone with a lot of hatred in their heart. An attack so sustained, that if it began right now (insert torture sound and use throughout) it wouldn’t end until this episode stops.
Three people were arrested for his death, his niece, his nephew and his brother. But proving who the culprit was would be problematic, as with the children locked in the bedroom, they saw very little.
One of the accused would claim “I did not take part in the murder”, the other said “I didn’t kill, because I couldn’t see”, and with all three either partially sighted or almost entirely blind, that could be true?
Only there was one who saw everything; a reliable eye-witness who could replay every second, every stab and every slash of the murder, and recount it in a court of law with irrefutable detail and accuracy.
But that is for the end... so let’s go back to where all this began.
(Rewind) Referred to in the report only as ‘Ms T’, Maria Calero was born 1986 in the South American country of Peru, with her brother Richard born one year later. The circumstances of their plight were unknown, but following a brutal conflict in their homeland - although their father Ricardo remained behind - six-year-old Maria, five-year-old Richard and their mother sought asylum in the UK in 1992.
It made sense, as their mother’s brother - uncle Eduardo - was living in a West London flat with his wife, his daughter and - soon-to-become pregnant with the first of two sons - although Maria’s mother had very little to call her own, what she did have was a close-knit family for when times got tough.
In April 1993, her mother’s mental health deteriorated as her immigration status remained uncertain, and against medical advice that she needed to be fully assessed, she discharged herself from hospital.
A few days later, this lone mother stood on London Bridge looking across the dark and muddy waters of the raging River Thames. In her arms, she held all that loved - her children. Clutching them tight and kissing their heads – seeing this drastic measure as her only way out - she hurled both children off the bridge, herself following behind, as they plunged thirty-feet to a certain death at this suicide spot.
Quick-thinking passers-by called the police, a nearby marine patrol was dispatched, and all three were rescued. The fall should have killed them and the water should have drowned them, but thankfully, their physical injuries weren’t critical. Their mother had fractured her spine, Richard suffered face and elbow abrasions, and Maria had fractured her pelvis. In time, they would all make a good recovery...
...but the psychological scars would never heel.
In February 1994, Maria’s father Ricardo came to England seeking asylum, and given the fragility of his wife’s mental state, he was assessed as the ‘protective parent’ of Maria and Richard. Earning a living as a dental assistant, he supported the family while his wife sought the help she so badly needed.
Only, she would struggle to find peace in her mind. Maria and Richard witnessed their mother’s mania on a regular basis; her outbursts, her threats and her suicide attempts. In one she sliced-up her wrists, in another she took an overdose of pills, and again, she would try to destroy those she loved most.
In 1995, when Maria was aged only 11, her mother tried to drown her in a bath. For their safety, both children were placed on the child protection register, they were put into foster care, and Maria and her brother received child therapy from a Spanish-speaking therapist. The abuse she suffered made Maria feel “unloved and vulnerable”, and she struggled to form healthy relationships with her family.
In 1998, when Maria was 12, her mother fled the family. Their relationship was torturous, so this break-up should have been a moment for Maria to rediscover herself? But having been bounced from foster homes, to temporary housing, to living with her uncle, daughter and his two sons, Maria’s early years were incredibly unstable, especially as this young girl entered her hormonally-charged puberty.
Life was hard and although times were bad...
...for all of the Calero family, it was about to get worse.
That same year, Maria’s father Ricardo was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, known as RP; a rare genetic disorder where the light-sensitive tissue in the retina aggressively degenerate, making even the simplest of tasks – whether reading, walking or recognising faces – difficult without assistance.
Within the year, her father would be completely blind... and although his vision meant the family lost their main income, this diagnosis came with a terrifying footnote - Retinitis Pigmentosa is hereditary.
Maria’s vision was fine for now... but how long would it last?
By the turn of the millennium, Maria’s homelife was a mess. Her mum was back and her father was blind, so when she wasn’t in foster care, she found sanctuary in her uncle’s flat, off Ashcroft Square.
Two years earlier, uncle Eduardo had separated from his wife, but stayed in the small flat with his two sons and their older sister. It seemed like a stable place for his niece to escape to, but depending on whose story you choose to believe, Maria and Eduardo had a very strange bond - one of love and hate.
That same year, aged 14, Maria locked herself in her uncle’s flat and refused to come out. This makes some sense as this hormonal teenager had made allegations of bullying and abuse against her mother.
Later in 2000, Maria claimed that her uncle had abused her, a social worker investigated the allegation but no action was taken, and having absconded from foster care, Maria returned to stay at his flat.
Again, that same year, she alleged that her uncle had sexually assaulted her, an accusation backed-up by parents and some of her uncle’s children. Both the Police and Child Services were involved, but no action was taken, as often she would deny the assault took place, or withdrew the allegation. And yet, it is said – that being unable to maintain a healthy relationship within her family - she continued in a “sexual relationship” with uncle Eduardo, as finding very little love elsewhere, she feared his rejection.
In February 2001, Maria’s parents alleged further ‘inappropriate behaviour’ by her uncle, a complaint was made to Child Services, but as both Maria & Eduardo denied this, again no action could be taken.
Rightfully, the Police criticised Child Services for allowing this minor to sleep-over at her uncle’s while an allegation of sexual assault was pending, but they were powerless to take action. So, with no foster carer at that time, a social worker was assigned to monitor Maria while she stayed with her uncle.
But there was only so much monitoring a social worker could do from a distance.
In July 2001, another official allegation of child sexual abuse was made against uncle Eduardo and his now 15-year-old niece. This time, by his own daughter. Having fled, she told the Police she “was afraid to go home”, having seen Maria & Eduardo on the sofa - he was shirtless and putting on his trousers.
Again, the allegations were denied by both, and being powerless to proceed, no charges were made.
Allegations and denials flew thick-and-fast, and with the system designed to protect Maria seen as helpless or hopeless, her parents took matters into their own hands. They smashed his car windows and assaulted him in the street. It did nothing and it solved nothing, except to vent their frustrations.
...only, the stresses and strains of a fractured family were piling up on top of Maria.
By February 2002, concerns were raised about Maria’s mental health, having been diagnosed with an “adjustment disorder with dissociative symptoms”. She had cut-off her hair, dropped-out of school and told her child therapist how “unloved” she felt, stating “even my spit isn’t worth anything”. And having become agoraphobic, she had become virtually housebound, living inside her uncle’s flat.
Two years later, Child Services had to remove Maria following allegations that her uncle had punched one of his pre-teen sons in the face. Right then, the council had proved it had the power to protect a child from abuse... but for Maria, it was too-little-too-late, as by September 2004, she had turned 18.
Officially an adult, the care order had ended with Hammersmith & Fulham Children’s Services, but she was transferred under the authority of Adult Mental Health Services, as Maria had “complex needs”.
Her mental decline was understandable given her chaotic upbringing. Nobody could hope to come out unscathed, given what she seen, what she had heard and what she experienced; truancy, depression, anxiety, isolation, infighting, with allegations of physical assaults and sexual abuse (which – although unproven – could easily be real), as well as her own mother’s attempts to kill herself and Maria; once in a bath as a child and once having thrown her off London Bridge. It’s no surprise that Maria lacked trust, she felt no love, she was full of anger, and suffered with bouts of anxiety and depression. And yet, a psychiatrist would state she had “no major mental illness” and “medication was not required”.
To those who knew her, Maria’s mental health was in a rapid decline, but this wasn’t just because of her past, as one very specific aspect of her future had been plaguing her mind for almost a decade...
...and now, her greatest fear had become a reality.
In the summer of 2006, Maria was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, the same hereditary condition which had taken her father’s sight, and given how fast her vision had degenerated, her prognosis was not good. Specialists had confirmed that - within the year – she too would be almost entirely blind.
Weighing heavy on her spiralling mental health, Maria admitted to her psychiatrist that - as the once-bright world around her became ever-darker – burning feelings of anger had begun to swell inside her, as she became more impulsive, anxious and started to experience hallucinations. In November 2006, she was prescribed the anti-depressant Sertraline, as - like her mother before her – she had expressed suicidal thoughts, as well as deep feelings of aggression towards others... especially her uncle.
...in less than one year, Maria Calero would brutally stab uncle Eduardo to death in a sustained torture in his Hammersmith flat, which would leave his two teenage sons traumatised...
...but who was the victim at this point, and why wasn’t the alleged abuse stopped?
Unable to restrain her bubbling rage, Maria had assaulted her mother and admitted to her psychiatrist her desire to stab and blind her uncle. Born on the maternal line, Eduardo was not afflicted by this family curse, but – regardless of whether her hatred for him was fuelled by the abuse she had allegedly suffered, or (if you take the other side) as he had rejected her love - Maria wished blindness upon him.
The psychologist was so concerned that he wrote to Eduardo making him aware of Maria’s desire to do-him-harm, and for him to consider this when and how he made contact with her next. And although her parents openly attacked him claiming he raped their daughter, Maria returned to his flat.
To say that their relationship was confusing would be an understatement.
Crippled with depression, anxiety and with her last vestiges of vision rapidly deteriorating to the point where even the simplest of tasks had become impossible without assistance, Maria became reclusive, a shut-in at uncle Eduardo’s flat and almost entirely reliant on him for food, clothes and prescriptions.
With her mind plagued with thoughts of self-harm and aggression, as was her prerogative, she stopped seeing her therapist, ignored the calls from her social worker and often failed to take her medication.
Having isolated herself inside her uncle’s flat, her anxieties and delusions only got worse; she would claim that voices would talk to her in the night and sometimes she saw their faces too. Whether real or imaginary, she became ever more distressed as her uncle’s sons mocked her, that her and Eduardo’s relationship had descended into frequent verbal fights, and again, she talked about “ending it all”.
And although, she had threatened to harm him...
...her words soon turned into wounds.
On the morning of Friday 15th June 2007, just two days before, Maria called her social-worker to confess “I’ve stabbed my uncle” and repeated her allegation that he had raped her seven years earlier.
In an incident which erupted when he allegedly started to wind her up by threatening to bring his own daughter from Peru - in his words - “to make your life hell”, Maria stated “I felt rage, then I stabbed him in the back with a knife”. But was this assault fuelled by anger, jealousy or rejection?
Assessed at the A&E of Charing Cross Hospital, Eduardo covered for his niece by claiming it was a work-related injury having fallen backwards onto a sharp metal tool, he was treated and discharged.
Accompanied by her care-worker, Maria re-iterated her story at Hammersmith police station and later to the Sapphire Unit in Fulham (a specialist police team who handle sexual offenses against adults and children) for further investigation and she returned home, not to her uncle’s flat but to her parent’s.
...but by the time the investigation got underway, uncle Eduardo would be dead.
On Sunday 17th June 2007, at roughly 2:30am, in (what is believed to be) a two-floor flat at the Ashcroft Square complex above the King’s Mall; stood Maria, her brother Richard and their father Ricardo.
Exactly what happened may remain as vague as their vision, as with all three virtually blind and often helpless without some assistance, the details of this night are shrouded in a thick fog of confusion and allegations. How and when they got into the flat is unknown; maybe they had a key, maybe they broke in, or maybe they were let in on the ruse of this fractured family making peace? But at some point, Eduardo’s boys were locked inside their bedroom, and the real reason for the visit would come out.
The torture of uncle Eduardo was slow and protracted. Clutching a kitchen knife and a set of scissors, Maria plunged and pierced each blade into his flesh, screaming at the top of her lungs “he raped me, he raped me” - an allegation she had both repeatedly admitted and denied over the last seven years.
Seeking revenge for a rape only he or she would know was true, over the next twenty-four minutes, she would stab and slash the uncle (she both loved and hated) a total of one hundred and eleven times. An attack so sustained, if it began at the beginning of this episode, it still wouldn’t have stopped.
In his last few moments alive, Uncle Eduardo pleaded for his life. And although his terrified sons heard every second of their father’s brutal murder, having flagged down a passer-by, the Police were alerted, the flat was sealed-off and all three members of the Calero family were arrested and charged.
The evidence was irrefutable – the blood, the knife, the scissors and the testimony of what the boys had heard – but with all three suspects either visually-impaired or blind, as one claimed “I did not take part in the murder” and the other “I didn’t kill, because I couldn’t see”, how could this be proven?
It was simple, unable to fully see what they were doing - whether to aid the attack, or as a sick souvenir of Maria’s revenge - Richard had filmed the entire murder on his mobile phone; every second, every stab and every slash of Eduardo’s demise which could be recounted in court, as an irrefutable fact. So shocking was the footage, that many jurors needed counselling over what they had seen and heard...
...but in that flat, that night, those 24 minutes of footage was the only reliable eye-witness. (END)
Eduardo Mendoza was transferred to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, but was pronounced dead on arrival, owing to blood loss and shock. Richard, Ricardo and Maria Calero were arrested on the charge of murder. With Maria sobbing as she was led away from the crime-scene “the voices made me do it”.
But if this was true, which voices made her commit murder – the angry ones, or the jealous ones?
Ricardo and Richard were held in custody to wait their appearance at West London Magistrates Court. Having been assessed at Shepherd’s Bush Police Station, suspecting that Maria was hallucinating, she was held under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act and was transferred to a mental health hospital.
So distraught was Maria’s mother upon hearing news of her brother’s murder at the hands of her own husband, son and daughter, that again Mrs Calero took her own life, only this time she did not survive.
In a month-long trial at the Old Bailey, on the 30th June 2008, 21-year-old Maria – whose fingerprints proved she was solely responsible for the attack on Eduardo - admitted to his murder and pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. She was given an indefinite prison sentence with Judge Morris insisting that she serve at a minimum of three years. Cleared of both the charges of murder and manslaughter, Richard and Ricardo wept as they were released. And as for the rape and sexual assault allegations made by Maria against Eduardo? They remain unresolved.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
As always, if you enjoy listening to the pendulous jowls of a cake-filled fat man, as he waffles on about his stupid little life in which pretty much nothing happens, except his imaginary relationship with the goddess Eva Green? Stay tuned till after the break for more info and a little quiz in Extra Mile.
If you’ve ran out of episodes of Murder Mile, just to say there are more than 50 episodes of Walk With Me – the companion piece to Murder Mile – available via Patreon, as well as location videos and exclusive photos for more than 100 episodes, as well as our regular feature Cake of the Week. Yum. You can become a Patreon subscriber for as little as $3 a month, that’s £2 in real money, and I’ll also post you a very exclusive pack of goodies and a thank you card from me. Life can’t get any better. And if you fancy a Murder Mile mug of goodies, you can order one via the Murder Mile merch shop.
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, totalling 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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