Nominated BEST TRUE-CRIME PODCAST at British Podcast Awards 2018, The Telegraph's Top Five True-Crime Podcasts, The Guardian's Podcast of the Week and iTunes Top 25. Subscribe via iTunes, Spotify, Acast, Stitcher and all podcast platforms.
Welcome to the Murder Mile UK 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.
In the evening of Thursday 12th February 1948, John George Haigh lured Rosalie Henderson (a bed-bound depressed neurotic) to her death, inside the storeroom at Leopold Road, where he had murdered her husband, just a few hours earlier. As with the other four murders, her death and disposal was pretty simple... but something would go horrible wrong.
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.
The location of the storeroom in Giles Yard, 2 Leopold Road in Crawley where Archie & Rosalie Hendeson were murdered and their bodies dissolved in acid is marked with a green dot. To use the map, click it. If you want to see the other murder maps, such as Soho, King's Cross, Paddington or the Reg Christie locations, you access them by clicking here.
Two little videos for you to enjoy with this episode; on the left is 2 Leopold Road in Crawley, the site of the storeroom where John George Haigh murdered and dissolved the bodies of Archie & Rosalie Henderson and Olivia Durrand-Deacon (now a nice house) and on the right is 16 Dawes Road in Fulham, former Doll's Hospital toy shop and home of the Henderson's.
I've also posted some photos to aid your "enjoyment" of the episode. These photos were taken by myself (copyright Murder Mile) or granted under Government License 3.0, where applicable.
CRIME SCENE PHOTOS: Top; three photos of the yard at 2 Leopold Road with the steel drums used to dissolved Rosalie & Archie in show. Middle; left is the waste ground where their "sludge" was dumped, centre is a photo of inside the storeroom (rubber apron on the wall) and right is the blood spatter up the wall. Bottom; left is the workbench where all three victims were shot, middle is an exterior shot of the storeroom, and right is the entry in Haigh's diary where he marked their deaths - "A is for Archie and R is for Rosalie".
ADDITIONAL PHOTOS: Left to Right: Archie Henderson, Rosalie Henderson, a photo of Rosalie and "Pat" their Red Setter (formerly Dorothy's dog) and the "Doll's Hospital" at 16 Dawes Road.
Left to right; Archie and Rosalie Henderson, Peggy Burlin and (Rosalie's brother) Arnold.
Credits: The Murder Mile UK 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 as used under the Creative Common Agreement 4.0.
SOURCES: This series was researched using the original declassified police files held at the National Archives, the Metropolitan Archives, the Wellcome Collection, the Crime Museum, etc.
TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE: PART FIVE OF SULPHURIC.
To Johnny, murder had become almost routine, an unemotional moment as common as withdrawing cash, only with the simple transfer between accounts sullied by that tiresome annoyance – people.
(Haigh) “I met the Henderson’s by answering an advertisement for the sale of 22 Ladbroke Square. I disposed of Dr Henderson in the storeroom at Leopold Road by shooting him in the head and put him in a tank of acid”. With the doctor dead, the assets should rightfully be his, but in his way was a wife.
Rosalie Henderson was a feisty angry neurotic; doped-up on sleeping pills, drowsy with drink and bed-bound in a Brighton hotel, who Johnny – a man her own brother had warned her against – would have to lure out on the flimsy excuse that her now-dead husband (she had threatened to divorce) was sick.
Driven at night, in a strange car, to an isolated yard, this paranoid lady with a lifelong fear of the dark would be led inside an odd little shed, illuminated by a single bulb, only to find... no Archie. Instead she would see three acid bottles, two steel drums (one empty, one full), a cracked monocle, a spatter of blood, a rubber apron, a set of gauntlets and - in Johnny’s hand - her dead husband’s revolver.
“I went back to Brighton and brought up Mrs Henderson on the pretext that her husband was ill. I shot her in the storeroom, put her in another tank and disposed of her with acid”. But was it really that simple? (BANG / SLUMP / FIZZ). Well, yes, it was. And although it irked Johnny a tad to fritter-away his busy social schedule to do a double-murder, it was (at best) only a bit of a bother and soon enough, with the dirty deed done, Archie & Rosalie Henderson would vanish completely.
In his diary, Johnny marked the moment “A is for Archie and the sign of the cross. R is for Rose, I didn’t deal with her until just before midnight”. And yet, so trivial were their deaths, had it not been for that note, he’d have forgotten - “yes, I suppose it must have been on the 12th when I got rid of them”.
The killing-spree of John George Haigh, one of Britain’s most infamous serial-killers was complete. As expected, his fourth murder was perfect, his fifth was easy-peasy and with the Police unaware that anyone was missing, the rest would be textbook… but once again, having overlooked yet another small and seemingly insignificant detail, something would go horribly wrong. (Interstitial*)
The Henderson’s were gone, and bit by bit, as Johnny picked it apart, so were their assets.
(Haigh) “In the case of Dr Henderson I removed his gold cigarette case and pocket watch, and from his wife, her wedding and engagement ring”. Before their bodies were reduced to a dark smouldering goo, Johnny pawned-off a diamond and sapphire ring, a gold watch, a gold chain, a set of gold studs, a Pewter tea set and a silver cigarette case to Horace Bull, a jeweller in Horsham for £292. Johnny gave a false name and address, and all of the pieces were either sold-on, broken-up or smelted down.
Having sidled-up in a red Lagonda which burst with boxes, golf bags and suitcases all monogrammed with a large flashy ‘H’, Johnny stashed the property of “two old pals who had gone to South Africa” into the garage of Thomas Davies - some of which, “at their request”, he would dip-into and flog off.
Being post-war - with money tight, essentials rationed and the black market a bit of a grey area - the average bod didn’t give two hoots where a case full of hooky goods came from, so with a nod, a wink and no questions asked - unaware that they were destroying evidence - Thomas bought some golf clubs and glassware; Leonard & Gladys Bevan had five pairs of ladies shoes and a lamb’s wool coat; and Barbara Stephens (Allan’s daughter and Johnny’s sort-of girlfriend) got first dibs on a green linen dress, a mustard coloured blouse and a nearly-new bathing suit. And yes, some of it may have been a little scorched, but even Johnny’s overcoat had acid burns on the cuffs, so beggars can’t be choosers.
Bits and bobs he stored in his garage to sell later; a metal filing cabinet, two office chairs and an electric heater, but all the best stuff he kept for himself at the Onslow Court Hotel. Of course, it wasn’t weird at-all that he wore dead man’s suits, shirts, ties, cuffs, belts and collars; that he proudly pranced about his bedroom (all peacock-like) in the deceased’s silk robe and slippers, or that Johnny played at being doctor by coveting a few odd objects from Archie’s life; like his hip flask, briefcase, stethoscope, kidney bowls, a brass thermometer, an inkstand and two metal plates marked ‘Archibald Henderson’? No, this wasn’t strange at all, as with the couple now dead and gone, all of this stuff… was his stuff.
Okay, maybe Johnny was a tad careless to sell-off his victim’s stuff, to dress in his victim’s clothes, to drive his victim’s car, to take his victim’s dog and to sign his victim’s name on his victim’s cheques at his victim’s bank, but (as before) having laid a cunning subterfuge, Johnny had covered his tracks.
One hour after her murder, having adopted a high-pitched voice, Johnny called the Metropole Hotel, and pretending to be Rosalie he stated the couple had (Haigh/Rose) “unexpectedly been called away”, and (concerned for his wellbeing) asked the night porter to feed and walk Pat, their elderly Red Setter.
Four days later, clutching a seemingly legal-looking letter supposedly signed by the Henderson’s which gave this random stranger total authority to do as he pleased: (Haigh) “I paid their hotel bill, collected their dog and took their luggage to Dawes Road”. With their account settled in full, the animal gone, the room vacated and the luggage collected, the hotel had no reason to be concerned.
Being fond of Pat, Johnny cared for the old dog in his hotel room, where he was loved, brushed and fed on meat rations he’d bought having queued-up for hours at the butchers, he even took the almost-blind dog to an eye-specialist, but with pets being against the hotel’s rules, Pat was put into kennels.
With the old ploy practically fool-proof, as before (Haigh) “I kept the relatives quiet by sending letters purporting to come from the Henderson’s to Rosalie’s brother Arnold and Archie’s sister Ethel”. Having stolen their passports, identity cards, driving licences and marriage certificate “I acquired the forged deeds of transfer for 16 Dawes Road” - this time with no spelling mistakes or dodgy signatures -and, once again, he collected the rent, in person, having introduced himself as the tenant’s new landlord.
Oh yes, the murders were a doddle, the subterfuge would be a done deal and soon it was time for tea, toast and scrambled egg. I mean it had all worked before so why change a winning formula? Besides, with Ethel busy moving house in Jersey and having swallowed a semi believable story that Archie & Rosalie were moving to Durban, she wouldn’t be aware that anything was amiss until a year later.
As for the disposal? Well, Johnny had got the knack now, and as the fifth person he’d liquefied in less than five years, it was all very simple, so in just forty-eight hours The Henderson’s went guts to gloop.
Step One: (Bang); a single shot, at close range, blasted in the back of the head, Rosalie dropped like a sack of spuds; the walls muffled the noise, the dark disguised the killing, the fence hid the storeroom.
Step Two: (Slide); stripped of stuff (rings, ID, keys, cash), bent double, hog-tied with twine as the limbs were still floppy, she’s slid inside a 40 gallon drum and (as a slight eight-stoner) easily propped upright.
Note to self (Phone): Find a phone-box, call Metropole Hotel (Haigh/Rose) “hullo, Rosalie here, could you take Pat for a walkies”, then lock the door, lights off, home for snooze and a hearty breakfast.
Step Three: (Pump): Apron on, gauntlets on, gas-mask on, with the carboys still and bucket be damned, stirrup-pump thirty gallons of sulphuric until the drums are four fifths full, windows open and lid on.
Step Four: (Fizz): first ten mins, acid turns black as hair, eyes and flesh are stripped; next thirty mins, acid boils as it reacts with the blood and fat; drum rattles a bit, then settles, quick stir with a rod, then a cuppa tea. After three hours; muscles, tendons and cartilage are gone, but the skeleton remains.
Second note to self: (Phone) drums are three foot high, the McSwan’s and Rosalie were five foot eight max, but Archie was six foot, so with his left foot sticking out and not dissolved (Haigh) “Hello, White & Son? I’d like to order a forth carboy of acid”, an extra cost, a slight delay, but job done, no biggie.
Step Five: (Drum) two days later, with the drums cooled, the gloop tepid and a greasy yellow sludge on top with a black smoky soup beneath, give it a quick stir, check there’s no big bits but a few small fragments is fine. Sadly with no drain at Leopold Road, both drums are dragged into the yard, the goo is tipped amongst the trash and car oil, and soaked into ground, it’s not ideal but the gloop is gone.
And as always, a quick clean-up followed, nothing major; apron up, gauntlets away, gas-mask stowed, carboys collected, ID and victim’s stuff stashed, gun and gas-mask back to hotel room, give the drums a rinse out with acid (as fat tends to cling to the sides), dump both in the yard, and after a quick wipe-down with a rag (as blood’s a dead giveaway), return the storeroom keys back to Edward. Easy-peasy.
A thorough murder investigation headed-up by Detective Chief Inspector Guy Mahon and Home Office Pathologist Dr Keith Simpson wouldn’t be conducted until more than one year later, after Johnny’s confession, but by then, very little of The McSwan’s or The Henderson’s would be found.
In the last half a decade, the basement at 79 Gloucester Road had changed hands several times, so in terms of cast-iron proof, it was useless. Any personal items belonging to these five victims could have been legally acquired at any time (which Johnny certainly had the paperwork to prove) and as a full year had passed, any evidence relating to the Henderson’s at Leopold Road was purely circumstantial.
There would be no witnesses; nobody on Leopold Road saw, heard or smelled anything strange coming from this engineer’s workshop. Between Brighton and Crawley, nobody spotted Johnny with either of the Henderson’s that day. There would be no ballistics; no bullets, no holes, no casings and although a firearms specialist recreated the shot, shielded by brick walls, it sounded like a muffled pop.
Being a dirty oily storeroom, the investigators were unable to pull a single fingerprint from any surface. His clean-up was slap-dash, but using a wet rag he wiped away any trace of the Henderson’s blood. Of their personal possessions; the cracked monocle was proven to be Archie’s, as were the gas-mask, the revolver and the hat-box marked with a monogrammed ‘H’, as well as his and his wife’s ID’s, licences, marriage certificate and passports, all which were legally acquired and none of which was a body. And although forensics found a beech-wood rod with one end disintegrated, two rusted steel drums, a stained apron and gauntlets, and a series of zig-zag marks in the soil as two heavy drums were dragged from the storeroom to an ominous pool of yellowy-green grease, this suggested was that something had been dissolved in acid, but that wasn’t unusual for an inventor who experimented in plastics.
The Police would find no hard evidence that the Henderson’s were at 2 Leopold Road, and as you can’t fingerprint sludge, Johnny was right, (Haigh) “Corpus Delicti - with no body, there can be no crime”.
Only having overlooked another small detail, once again, the killer risked capture. (Interstitial*)
(Haigh) “I found The Henderson’s interesting and amusing, we went about a good deal together, they talked a lot about themselves, and from many conversations I learned a great deal about them”.
To Johnny, whereas Archie was the prize, Rosalie was a mere formality who could be rubbed-out as easily as he could erase her name, and as he listened to her life-story, some bits he stored, but most bits he binned.
Rosalie Mercy Burlin, known as Rose, was born on 11th September 1907, as the eldest of two siblings, with a younger brother Arnold - (Haigh: “urgh, boring-boring-boring”) – to Edith, an English housewife - (Haigh: “argh, snooze”) - and Adolph, a naturalised German dentist – (Haigh: “Ah! A dentist? Bingo!”).
Described as a neurotic paranoid hypochondriac, Rose’s nervousness began when her uncaring nanny thought the best way to keep a chatty child quiet was to tell the tot terrifying tales and lock her in a pitch black room; a childhood trauma which resulted in years of therapy, terror and tranquilisers - (Haigh: “a dull little detail there, but… like Archie’s bad back and poor eyesight… possibly useful?”).
Educated at Pendleton High School, Rose trained as a typist at the Pittman College and began a short career as a secretary - (Haigh/flips pages: “secretary, secretary, short-hand typist, modelled once but mostly unemployed. Oh, so she’s got no money, her dad’s a financial risk, her mum’s just a wife and her brother runs a crappy seaside hotel in Blackpool, so basically, they’re all worth nothing. Damn it!”
(Haigh) “Right! Rosalie; thirty-seven years old, five foot seven and eight stone; slim, weak, wet; with drawn on eye brows, chronic nerves and a painted smile. In short; sad, false and pointless. Typical! In 1931 she married Rudolph Erren – ah, an engineer, an inventor and founder of the Erren Motor Company. Hmm. Oh, start of the war, he’s suspected of being a Nazi; arrested, interred, divorced and later deported back to Germany. Shame. Meanwhile…”
(Haigh) “Rudolph & Rosalie live opposite Archie & Dorothy, which we know. Archie & Rosalie have an affair, which we know. Rosalie taunts Dorothy with this knowledge, which we didn’t know, nasty bitch. Rosalie shacks-up with Archie (an abusive alcoholic womaniser). Archie gets Rosalie pregnant? Ah-ha! Illegally aborts the baby? Ah-ha! In Dorothy’s sitting-room? Ah-ha! Dorothy leaves Archie and three days later she dies suspiciously. Hmm, I may have to consider blackmail? This follows eight years of lies, drink, affairs, blah-blah-blah, and haemorrhaging cash (oh I know that feeling) The Henderson’s sell-off their very expensive and tastefully decorated twenty-bedroomed house at 22 Ladbroke Square in the exclusive suburb of Holland Park, which is where they met me… and – even though, for any pedants, this last bit was touch of dramatic licence rather than an actual quote - the rest we know”.
Only he didn’t.
Johnny only cared about one thing, money. As for people? His only concern was what they were worth so anyone whose money wasn’t worth stealing he disregarded as irrelevant; a mistake he had made before with The McSwan’s and now with Rose Henderson. Every rose has its thorn…
…and his name was Arnold Burlin.
On 3rd September 1947, being broke and keen to weasel his way into the life of a man he thought was a wealthy mark, (Haigh) “I met the Henderson’s by answering an advertisement offering for sale of 22 Ladbroke Square”; a house they had purchased for £4600, would sell for £8700 (to cover their debts), and yet, much to the befuddlement of Rose’s younger brother, Johnny declared “that’s too cheap, but if you accept £10,500, that’s a deal”.
As a no-nonsense Blackpool hotelier, attuned to spotting an unsavoury-sort too poor to stump-up a pound to pay his bill, Arnold later said of Johnny “of the scores of stupid people I’ve met, I’ve just been introduced to the greatest of them all”, later advising Rosalie “when you meet a man who talks like that, you should run for your life”, and although she kept a bit of a distance, Archie did not.
The last time Arnold saw his sister was on 1st February 1948 in their flat above the ‘Doll’s Hospital’ toy-shop at 16 Dawes Road, as being asset-rich but cash-poor, having loaned the Henderson’s £160 to furnish it, Archie repaid it, that day, by cheque. The last time Arnold spoke to his sister, was by phone, a few days before her death; she was unwell, bed-bound but fine.
(BANG/SLUMP/FIZZ). (Haigh) “I kept the relatives quiet by sending letters purporting to come from the Henderson’s”. And a skilled forger who over the previous months had mastered their handwriting, spelling, style and tone, once again, his cunning subterfuge began.
On Saturday 14th February, on headed paper swiped from the Metropole Hotel, Johnny penned a letter from Archie to Daisy Rowntree, manageress of the ‘Doll’s Hospital’ toy-shop. It read; (Haigh/Archie) “Dear Daisy. Mrs Henderson & I are going away for two or three months, first to Scotland and later abroad. In my absence Mr Haigh will look after my affairs. I am closing the shop. Mr Haigh will keep you for a few days to enable him to take stock. Mrs Henderson and I send you kind regards and hope to see you again when we return. Yours sincerely Archibald Henderson”.
Received on Tuesday 17th, Daisy was shocked, as in short she’d been sacked; no thank you, no warning, no reason and no goodbye, just gone - an uncharacteristically callous dismissal from a man he liked.
That same day, Arnold dropped-in, as the cheque had bounced. Shocked at Daisy’s distress and the fact that his sister’s affairs were being handled by a stranger, he told Daisy to (Arnold) “do nothing till I speak to them”. (Phone) Unable to contact the Henderson’s, he traced Johnny to the Onslow Court Hotel; (Arnold) “Here, Haigh, what’s all this about then?” Caught off-guard by the nosey Northern blighter, Johnny reassured this nobody he had nothing to be concerned about, the Henderson’s merely owed him a rather sizable debt, and he had all the paperwork to prove it, don’t you know? But being immune to Johnny’s charms and seeing the little louse as “a bit too smooth”, Arnold was suspicious.
It was odd, usually Johnny’s letters worked like a treat, but then again, the reclusive McSwan’s weren’t like the recalcitrant Arnold Burlin, so if he wanted proof, he would get proof, in the form of a forged contract from Archie to Johnny, backdated eight days before their deaths and signed by the dead. For Johnny, this wasn’t an issue, but a golden opportunity to fleece the deceased.
(Typewriter / Archie / Haigh) “To J G Haigh. I acknowledge receipt of two thousand five hundred pounds on part loan for three months. For repayment I hereby assign to you: the stock at 16 Dawes Road, a Standard Saloon, a blue lacquered bedroom suite and other items on inventory to come. This leaves a value of £1500 outstanding and should I require the loan after the 3rd May 1948, I will assign to you the freehold of 16 Dawes Road. Signed Archibald Henderson, witnessed by Rose Henderson”.
Would Arnold buy it? He didn’t know. So…
…as a second layer of lies to bed-in his bullshit, Johnny penned a letter from Rose to himself dotting it with hints as to why they unexpectedly departed, written on Metropole Hotel note-paper with Brighton crossed-out and Edinburgh scrawled beneath, which is quicker than travelling to Scotland.
It read (Rose/Haigh): “Dear Mr Haigh. To let you know that we are alright, as you must be wondering when you were going to hear from us. Archie is quite different now and (you won’t believe it) he is laying off the bottle! He has at last come to his senses and realises that I could not carry on as we were doing. We are going to Aberdeen tomorrow for a day or two and shall be calling at my brother Arnold’s on our way back. Archie won’t get in touch with him because he sent him a bad cheque. It was good of you to help him, I do appreciate it and hope you are having luck with the stock at Dawes Road. I shall look forward to seeing you again before we go to South Africa. I hope Pat is not giving you any trouble. Please give my kind regards to Daisy. Yours sincerely. R Henderson”. Not subtle, but effective.
Sadly, as Pat’s blindness was incurable, being placed in kennels, although he was genuinely concerned about the dog’s welfare, it resulted in the only two occasions when anyone recalled Johnny becoming upset; once when Pat was put to sleep, and later when a tabloid falsely accused him of animal cruelty.
But Johnny’s soft and sensitive side didn’t cut the mustard with Arnold…
On Monday 23rd February 1948, determined to get to the bottom of this, Arnold asked to meet Johnny at 16 Dawes Road, in the sitting-room of which he spotted the Henderson’s suitcases and passports. Eek! Fearing his ruse had been rumbled, Johnny spun a semi-believable story about drink and debts, locked the flat, and unsure if he had pacified Arnold, he fired off another letter, this time from Rose.
Typed, signed and dated Friday 27th February with a Birmingham postmark, it read (Haigh/Rose) “Mr dear Arnold. We’ve never had such a long silence, you must wonder what happened? Unfortunately Archie found out that I was leaving him. We had a perfect bust-up at Brighton and he threatened to commit suicide if I left him…” followed by some family bumph and bluster… “I thought we might be along to see you this weekend but we must keep on the move for a little while yet, probably three more weeks. We are keeping away from Archie’s usual haunts. Archie is as good as gold and is very seldom drinking. I only hope Johnny Haigh is doing alright because he has been a brick to me during the last few months. Hope you are all well. Don’t worry. Give my love to mummy. Rose”.
Did it work? Did it not work? He didn’t know. So, to be sure, he fired off a few postcards.
27th February, Birmingham, Archie to Arnold and Johnny – “Am doing very well, that is Rose is, and we shall be returning at the end of March. Archie”, which made sense, as Archie was a man of few words.
5th March, Rugby postmark, Rose to Daisy – “Hope you are alright and getting on well with Mr Haigh. We are very well and having a busy time. See you at the end of March. Kind regards. Rose”.
5th March, Rugby, Rose to Arnold – “Hope my letter put your mind at rest. I expect the details would amuse you at least. Arch is still very good and the Brighton episode was a blessing in disguise. Love to Mumsy and all. Shall see you on our way back. Rose”. Only this time, Johnny had misspelled Mumsie.
And again, 5th March, Rugby, in a postcard written by Johnny, as Rose, and sent to himself - “To let you know we are still well and very busy. Hope you are alright. Kind regards. Rose”. And although Arnold couldn’t help but be drawn-in by the catalogue of convincing correspondence, he couldn’t explain the passports, the suitcases and why Rose’s personal address-book was found in Johnny’s car.
On Friday 19th March, having not spoken to Rose in person for more than a month, Arnold contacted a friend at the Stockport Police who agreed to look into the possible disappearance of the Hendersons.
Alarmed at this news, and panicked, the very next day, Arnold received a telegram, it simply read “Going to Scotland tonight, contact you Tuesday or Wednesday. Rose”. It was short, but as a stalling tactic, it gave Johnny time, as two days later, three letters arrived at three different addresses. (Typing)
21st March, Glasgow, Rose to Arnold and Mumsie, this time spelled correctly. (Rose/Haigh) “This is very confidential so you’ll have to discuss its main points with Mr Haigh and McNab Taylor (a firm of solicitors Johnny had appointed). I write to you in a hurry because our boat to South Africa leaves on Tuesday…”, and in a fifteen page letter in which he hammered home the need for everyone to lie low and stay schtum, the key points were there; “write to us courtesy of the General Post Office in Durban until we know our address”, letters of which would sit for month gathering dust in a box, “Archie has made over the property to Haigh and sent it to McNab Taylor for completion”, meaning Johnny owned 16 Dawes Road, and all the while reassuring what remained of Rose’s family, “I hope you won’t feel too sore but it’s the only thing we could do if Archie wasn’t to go bankrupt. I don’t want you to worry about me. With my very warmest love to you all. Yours. Rose”.
That day, a second letter was sent to McNab Taylor, the solicitors and the third was sent from Rose to himself, thanking Johnny (Rose) “I’m glad to say we’ve done it. With much thanks to your assistance which other friends seemed to lack the courage to do. Yours very sincerely Rose Henderson”.
And before Arnold could even reply…
…legally, the Henderson’s assets were stripped, Johnny was back in the black, Arnold was none the wiser and there was nothing anyone could do, or prove. And as Arnold’s detective friend in the Stockport Police found nothing suspicious, the Henderson’s were never reported missing. Everyone who knew them believed they had started a new life nine thousand miles away… when in truth, they were both little more than a black sludge slowly sinking into the dirty soil at Leopold Road. (End)
To little Johnny Haigh, murder had become routine. Yes, it sometimes got quite exciting when things went awry, as sticky beaks were stuck where they didn’t belong and the simple transfer of funds between two accounts were sullied by that tiresome annoyance – people. But people are people.
Once again, Johnny had failed to learn from his fatal mistakes, as having overlooked a seemingly small detail, something had gone horribly wrong… but with a simple snip, the Rose was clipped, its thorn was blunted and – whether by pluck or luck – Johnny had pulled-off another perfect murder.
To pacify Arnold was simple, as his trouble began with a bounced cheque by Archie, Johnny just wrote him a new one and once the cash had cleared, Arnold returned to Blackpool and Johnny never saw him again. And soon enough, although puzzling, Archibald & Rosalie Henderson would be forgotten.
It took a single second to kill the Henderson’s, just two days to dissolve their corpses and after only eight weeks, Johnny had full control of their entire estate; from their home, shop and stock, to their shares, savings and their life insurance. Ah yes, the good life had returned; and as a respected middle-class gentleman with a business to run, good suits to wear and three sports cars to drive, Johnny’s toughest decision was between taking tea or tiffin with the rich widows at the Onslow Court Hotel.
Annoyingly, as a notoriously irrational and irresponsible gambler, of the £20,000 Archie had been left in his dead wife’s will, having sold 22 Ladbroke Square to cover his mounting debts, although Johnny had spent literally months perfectly preparing the untimely demise of his old pals – The Henderson, their deaths only netted him a piffling £7700. I know! I mean, yes, that’s just over quarter of a million pounds today, but it wasn’t the three quarter of a million pounds he’d been hoping for, but hey-ho.
Still, with more than enough money to last a lifetime, this time at least, the killing spree of John George Haigh, one of Britain’s most infamous serial-killers would finally come to an end…
…or would it? (Interstitial*)
OUTRO: Friends. Thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile. That was the penulti8mate part of Sulphuric; the true story of John George Haigh, with the final part of six continuing next week.
A big thank you to those lovely people who very kindly showered me with gifts on my previous Murder Mile Walk, it was unexpected and lovely; they were Emma Thorpe, Jonny Rex, Jessica from Asian Madness Podcast and the lady with the large black suitcase who very kindly gave me some yummy spiced Christmas biscuits, it happened so fast I never got your name, but thank you. And also a hello to Hamish, my boat neighbour and listener to Murder Mile. Ssshh! Only you know what my boat looks like, so that’ll have to remain our little secret.
Murder Mile was researched, written & 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.
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", 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
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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