Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

British Maniac Patrick Mackay

A Time to Kill

Isabella Griffiths
Isabella Griffiths

That month, Mackay was following his usual course of breaking and entering when he went into a home in the Chelsea area of London. There he encountered 84-year-old Isabella Griffiths. The accounts differ here. Clark and Penycate say that she was walking down the street, carrying bags of groceries, and when Mackay helped her, she invited him in and they struck up a friendship; Lane and Gregg indicate that she was at home when he broke in and give no indication that she knew him previously. By one account, anyway, Ms. Griffiths apparently was familiar with him when Mackay eventually chose her home as a point of robbery.

Just before the incident, he had tried committing suicide but was picked up by the police. A psychiatrist spoke with him and concluded that he was not mentally ill, despite his extensive record of psychiatric observation. He believed that Mackay had a personality disorder and ordered him to a ward for observation. Mackay seemed to adjust quickly, so longer detention was not deemed necessary. He was released from the hospital on February 14, and he was now more dangerous than he'd ever been.

He went directly to the home of Isabella Griffiths, who told him she did not need any assistance that day. He pushed his way in anyway and in a matter of moments had strangled her. There was no apparent reason for it, other than the fact that he was angry that she had not invited him inside when he arrived.

Knife used to kill Mrs. Griffiths
Knife used to kill Mrs. Griffiths

He dragged her body into the kitchen, wandered around for a bit, and then decided to take out his wrath for imagined insults by mutilating her corpse. He found a 12-inch kitchen knife and stabbed her in the stomach, leaving the knife in her. Feeling better, he grabbed some food and drink, and listened to the radio in her front room. The place was his now, for the time being. He intended to enjoy it.

Then, oddly, he considered killing himself (or so he later said). He removed the knife from the body and looked at it. Then he changed his mind. In a strange mood now, he arranged the corpse for greater "comfort," closing the eyes and covering it. Then he placed dishes into the sink, along with some shoes, and turned on the water. Stealing only a cigarette lighter, he took the knife, left the house, and tossed the weapon into some bushes along the way.

Ms. Griffiths' body lay on the floor for nearly two weeks before someone found her. Oddly, the police thought she had died from natural causes, even though she had clearly been covered by someone else. Then police discovered the stab wound, and the case was turned over to homicide detectives, the Murder Squad. They appealed to the public for information, but few people knew the victim and there were no clues at the scene, so the case went unsolved.

Once again, Mackay had gotten away with violence. There would be more.


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