Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Bruce George Peter Lee

A man at the Door

When news broke that Hull police had arrested a young man named Bruce Lee for the Hastie murders, local mother Ros Fenton didn't recognize the name. However, she had followed developments in the case because a year earlier, in June 1979, she too had been involved in a house fire which she believed was started deliberately.

After a neighbor had left her house and she prepared to go to bed, she saw a figure through the window of her front door, who moved away when seen. She even thought she saw someone's hand poking through the mail slot but wasn't alarmed. She thought she recognized the man as "Daft Peter," a lad who lived nearby at the time and was regarded as something of a harmless half-wit, often seen around the area acting strangely.

Mrs. Fenton went to bed, but was soon woken by people shouting 'Fire!' She immediately went into her 7-year-old daughter Samantha's bedroom to get her, but Mrs. Fenton was heavily pregnant at the time, and struggled to find away out of the blazing house. Finally the smoke took its toll and she and Samantha had to lie in the corner of the living room, hoping help would arrive in time.

Both mother and child were rescued. They survived but sustained severe burns. Mrs. Fenton also lost the baby she was carrying, and spent several months in the hospital. She was too ill to make a witness statement to police, and because no one had died, there was no inquest, and the fire was blamed on an earlier visitor to the house dropping a cigarette on the carpet. Her sighting of "Daft Peter" went unreported.

It was only when she saw a picture of "Bruce Lee" in the local paper that she realized that he and "Daft Peter" Dinsdale were actually the same person.

Police sketch of Lee
Police sketch of Lee

She called police and told them of her suspicions, and when confronted about the fire, Lee admitted that he had broken into the house and set the place alight. When asked for a motive he said, "I just did it. Someone I knew didn't like her and, well, I just did it."

When pressed further by Sagar, Lee admitted "I like fires, I do. I like fires."

He was asked if he was in fact a habitual fire-raiser, who may even have killed more people in the past through starting fires. Sagar didn't expect a confession, but after a long pause Lee responded.

"Yes, you are right. I killed a little baby once."

 

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