Scotland Yard's Baffling Case of the Playboy Killer
Charalambos Christodoulides, 57 and originally from Cyprus, was a quiet, reserved man who enjoyed donning Savile Row suits or other designer clothes and accessories for visits to west London's Piccadilly area, where he would sit alone in fast-food restaurants until the early hours of the morning, usually talking to no one while he read books and studied racing forms before making his way by bus back to his small flat in a warehouse on Bannister Road in Kilburn, in northwest London. The warehouse was owned by Michael Lanitis, who was married to Christodoulides' sister, Annina, and who had purchased it in 1978. Lanitis set up a couple of flats inside it and operated a successful wholesale food, beer and wine company from there. For a time it seemed like Lanitis and Christodoulides had an enviable arrangement, living and working in the same building. Christodoulides had worked for his brother-in-law, despite having earned a degree in economics, until an injury by a barrel forced him onto disability. Some believed the accident had been the primary reason that he had become withdrawn and began living an isolated, frugal lifestyle.
Lanitis closed the warehouse in 1993, and he, Annina, and their son moved into a new home four years later. Although they offered Christodoulides a room in their new home, he declined, preferring to remain behind, continuing to live in the small flat above the warehouse.
"He preferred to stay there because he knew the area and the bus stop was outside," Annina said. "He took the bus to go to the West End. As long as he was happy, I was happy, too...He wasn't the kind to make friends. He was living his life like he wanted to live."
In 1999, Lanitis put the warehouse up for sale, leaving Christodoulides with the sudden prospect of having to find a new place to live when it sold.
Christodoulides lived an uncomplicated life in part because he did not have much money. Nonetheless, he seemed to be happy doing the simple things that he liked, such as routinely placing small bets of just a few pounds with the local bookmakers on the horses, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. He would speak to his sister by telephone nearly every day, and she would often show up at the warehouse to bring him food and to help him clean his flat. He also went to Michael and Annina's home for lunch nearly every Sunday, yet another simple pleasure that had become a routine. For the most part, his family had little reason to worry about him, until he failed to show up for one of their regular lunches on Sunday, March 12, 2000. Initially, family members reasoned that something must have come up that prevented him from keeping the date and temporarily put their concern aside. Annina, who was about 50 at the time, often referred to her brother as "Bambi" due to his gentle nature and kind spirit.
"He was quiet, charming, loveable and caused no problems," Annina said.