Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Scotland Yard's Baffling Case of the Playboy Killer


Papalexis' trial at London's Old Bailey began in June 2009 for the calculated, coldblooded murder of Charalambos Christodoulides before Judge Jeremy Roberts. All of the evidence implicating Papalexis and his two accomplices was heard by the court, including testimony from Hyatt, other investigators and, of course, Rebecca DeFalco, among others. Damning details of Christodoulides being tied to a chair, beaten, tortured and strangled inside his home were given in evidence and testimony. It was perhaps DeFalco's testimony of Papalexis' purported confession that was the most damaging. At one point, Papalexis took the witness stand and told the court that much of what he had told DeFalco was merely part of an elaborate fantasy in which he had engaged during the course of their sexual relationship.

"I wanted her to feel loved and to feel that I was a super-spy and that we would have great sex and great fun together," Papalexis testified. "I have regaled her with stories which would make a screenwriter envious, but I have never mentioned anything to do with this murder. I told her about missions, explosions, car chases, gun battles in the desert, stories that you would see in a movie but nothing to do with the murder of a...gentleman in a warehouse in London."

Before he finished presenting his case against Papalexis to the court, prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw spelled out the motive for Christodoulides' murder.

"It appears that the victim was condemned to die for no better reason than he was not prepared to leave his home," Laidlaw said. "Papalexis, whilst from a wealthy family, was in a perilous financial position. It was his first major project and the venture had gone disastrously wrong. As pressure mounted, Mr. Papalexis looked at other ways of raising money to save himself."

Judge Jeremy Roberts
Judge Jeremy Roberts

Perhaps in an effort to underscore Papalexis' unsavory character, Laidlaw explained that after DeFalco resumed e-mail contact with the defendant before his arrest and told him that she had cancer, Papalexis had simply replied, "Bon voyage."

Following a lengthy trial, Papalexis was found guilty of murder in September 2009 and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. Papalexis' likely release date was shown in legal documents as September 25, 2029.

"You found yourself with a serious problem," Judge Roberts said at sentencing. "You decided to take a life of a harmless and innocent human must have realized what happened, if it became known, would have scuppered the deal. He could not be allowed to are a totally amoral person in the sense that you do not think twice in doing or saying anything which helps you achieve your own ends....This was an execution carried out for financial gain—you treat Charalambos as completely expendable."

"I hope this verdict goes some way to achieving justice for Charalambos and closure for his family," Hyatt said after the trial. "For nine years they suffered enormously knowing that no one had been held accountable for his murder. Despite their pain, they have patiently and wholeheartedly supported this investigation, behaving with great dignity throughout. I thank them for the support they have given me and the officers involved in this investigation."

In February 2010, Ylli Xhelo and Robert Baxhija were found guilty of murder in Christodoulides' death, following the inability of a jury to reach a verdict in earlier proceedings. Judge Roberts sentenced Xhelo to 17 years to life, with a likely release date of February 11, 2027. Roberts sentenced Baxhija to 15 years to life, with a likely release date of February 11, 2025.

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