Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Christie

Christie's Dark Addiction

Muriel Eady
Muriel Eady

When his stint with the War Reserve Police ended, Christie got a job with a radio firm, Ultra Radio Works, in Acton. Ethel, too, had a job with an electric light company. It was not long before Christie met his second victim, Muriel Eady, 32, who worked in the assembly department. They encountered each other in the company canteen. She lived with her aunt and had a steady boyfriend. She was short and heavy, with dark brown hair. Christie often invited Muriel and her friend for tea, served by his wife. Once the foursome went to the movies together.

Christie decided to lure her into his home so he could repeat what he had done to Ruth Fuerst. "I planned it all out very carefully," he later wrote.

In October, 1944, Ethel went to Sheffield to visit relatives. The opportunity was at hand. Christie had told Muriel that, due to his first-aid background from being with the War Reserve, he had a remedy for the catarrh from which she suffered. She came over alone.

This time, he would avoid a struggle. He had prepared himself. He told Muriel that he had a special kind of inhaler that would work quite well. Into a jar he had put some inhalant, disguised with the odor of friar's balsam. He had made two holes in the top of the jar, one of which he used for a small hose that he ran to the gas supply. That tube ran into the liquid and another tube came out the other hole and did not touch the liquid, but was meant to keep the stuff from smelling like gas. According to his own account, after first giving her a cup of tea, he had Muriel sit on a kitchen chair with a scarf over her head to inhale his concoction.

As Muriel breathed in, she inhaled carbon monoxide. In less than a minute, it weakened her, which gave Christie the opportunity to strangle her with a stocking. All the while, he had sex with her. "I had intercourse with her while I strangled her." Having no air supply, she quickly expired. Christie once again experienced the peaceful thrill over the body of his victim.

He then placed her in the communal washhouse while he dug a hole for her in the garden. He buried her, fully dressed, not far from the first grave. Later, digging around in the garden, he came across a broken femur bone, so he used it to prop up the trellis.

Some authors believe that Christie was a necrophile, but others claim that all sexual activity took place before death. No one really knows, however, and he certainly kept the bodies close by.

Necrophilia — having sex with the unconscious or dead, and keeping them close — has three variants: violent, fantasy, and romantic. The violent types have an overpowering urge to be near a corpse, so they kill in order to achieve this. They may then keep a corpse around to work it over again, or go visit it where it was dumped.

Fantasy necrophiles make death a central part of their erotic imagery. They may ask a lover to "play dead" during a sexual act or take photos of that person looking dead over which they can later masturbate. Christie apparently needed them to be unconscious, in a deathlike pose, if not dead.

The romantic types feel such a strong bond with those they kill that they keep them around after death. They may not touch them again, but want them nearby. It does not matter, in this case, whether Christie had sex with a dying woman or a corpse. He kept each one close by. If someone says that he feared the consequences of his wife finding out, so that's why he killed them, such a motive applies only to the first two, for his wife was the third one to go, and the last three were prostitutes. However, with the first one, he says that he strangled her while having intercourse and that as he pulled away from her, excrement and urine came out of her.  That would indicate that she was dead before he was finished.

There can be little doubt that the dying women excited him, and perhaps it goes back to his desire to punish the girl who ridiculed him after a failed adolescent encounter. Kennedy makes the case that Christie was dominating and killing his mother and sisters as well to get them back for all the times they dominated him. In any event, killing women made him feel peaceful and powerful. The presence of the pubic hair collection indicated another type of perversion, but Christie had to be caught before anyone could make sense of it.

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