Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Christie

Evan's Confession

Mrs. Probert decided to check on the young couple's strange disappearance. She soon discovered that Beryl had never gone to see her father. She asked Christie what he knew and he told her not to worry. Then she learned from her sister that Evans was staying there, awaiting Beryl, and she quickly determined that he was telling lies. Beryl and the baby were missing and the furniture was gone from the apartment.

Evans' aunt confronted him. Having few mental resources to cope with all of this, it was not long before he arrived at the Merthyr Tydfil police station with the odd statement, "I have disposed of my wife. I put her down the drain." 

They were not sure what to make of this. He had not actually confessed to killing anyone, but what he did say needed to be checked out.

Evans went on to explain that his wife was dead but he did not kill her. Afraid that mentioning Christie, a former police officer, would only end up incriminating him, he claimed that a stranger had given him something to help Beryl abort the baby. He had met a man, he said, who had given him some medication intended for spontaneous abortion. He allowed his wife to take the bottle from him, but he warned her not to use it. That day, however, when he returned from work, he found her dead. He attended to the baby and wondered what he should do. He was afraid that the police would think he had killed her.

The next morning he put his wife's body headfirst down the drain outside the front door. He stayed home from work, and then went in to give notice. He also made arrangements to have someone look after his child. He wanted someone to please find his wife and get this situation resolved.

While Evans waited in Wales, the Notting Hill police were notified. They went to the house to investigate. It became immediately apparent that something was amiss when it took three men to move the manhole cover. Evans could not have done this by himself as he claimed. Once they had it raised, they could see that there was no body.

Back at Merthyr Vale, Evans was told of this discovery. He was amazed, but immediately changed his statement. He would now tell the truth.

He said that there was no stranger who had given him abortion pills. Rather, it was his neighbor, Reg Christie, who had put Beryl down the drain. Evans had claimed it only to protect himself from Christie. He said that Christie had offered to help Beryl abort the child, but warned that the concoction he used was dangerous and could kill her. She wanted to try it, so when Evans left for work on November 8th, Beryl had gone to see Christie. The stuff she took had killed her. When Evans had returned home, he had found her bleeding from every orifice.

He had attended to the baby while Christie moved the corpse. Christie had returned with the story that he had left her in Mr. Kitchener's flat for the time being. He would wait until dark to put the body down one of the drains. He then told Evans that he knew of some people who would take Geraldine. Evans was to give Christie all of Geraldine's things. When Evans came home on Thursday, his child was gone. Christie had said he had taken care of everything. He told Evans to sell his furniture and leave, which he did.

As the investigation intensified, Evans added things to his story. He admitted that he had helped Christie to carry his wife down to the other flat, but only because Christie could not do it on his own. He also said he had visited Christie several weeks later to inquire after his child but was told it was too soon to see her. He asked that they contact his mother to find out the address of the couple who had taken his child. He wanted to know how she was.

The police investigated the house and garden at Ten Rillington Place, but their search was superficial. They never even saw the human thigh bone in the garden that propped up a fence, let alone did any digging. Otherwise, they might have found a few surprises. Christie's dog dug up a skull, but the police failed to notice this as well. Christie tossed the skull into a bombed out house nearby, where after it was discovered, there was endless speculation over who the unfortunate air-raid victim was.

What they did find in Evans' mostly empty apartment was puzzling. Among a pile of papers by a window, there were clippings from the newspaper of a sensational torso murder, known as the Stanley Setty case. This was odd, since Evans did not read, but the apparent plant by someone else failed to register with anyone. It just looked incriminating. There was also a stolen briefcase.

Evans was arrested for the briefcase and brought back to London for further questioning. Christie was also summoned for an interview that lasted six hours. He was savvy about what to say and the police accepted him as one of their own. Another officer questioned Mrs. Christie, who had been coached by her husband. Christie dismissed Evans' accusations as ridiculous. The man was a known liar. He then went on to recount how violent the marriage had been.

When Beryl and the baby could not be located, the police searched the house again. They then went into the back yard and tried to get into the washhouse, but the door was stuck. Mrs. Christie brought them a piece of metal to loosen it. Inside, it was dark. They noticed some wood standing against the sink. One of the officers reached behind it and felt something. They moved the wood and saw what appeared to be a package wrapped in a green tablecloth and tied up with cord. Mrs. Christie claimed she had never seen it before and did not know what it was.

They pulled the package out further and untied the cord. A pair of feet slipped out, revealing the decaying corpse of Beryl Evans.

Further searching produced the baby, lying under some wood behind the door. Both had been strangled. A man's tie was still around the baby's neck.

Dr. Donald Teare, the Home Office pathologist, arrived to examine the bodies. He then took them to Kensington Mortuary.

An autopsy indicated that both had been dead about three weeks. Beryl had been bruised over the lip and right eye, as if she had been hit. She had been strangled with a cord of some kind, like a rope. There was no evidence that she had taken anything to try to abort her three-month-old fetus, but there was bruising inside her vagina. Unaccountably, the doctor neglected to take a vaginal swab to check for semen.

Christie was asked to identify the clothing taken from the two corpses. He knew Beryl's skirt and blouse, but claimed he did not know the tie that had been around Geraldine's neck. He thought he might have seen it on Evans. (Jesse indicates that it had belonged to the absent Mr. Kitchener.)

Timothy Evans with police, 1949
Timothy Evans with police, 1949

When Tim Evans was returned to London from Wales, all he was told on the way was that he was going to be questioned about a briefcase found in his apartment that belonged to someone else. When he arrived in London, however, there was no doubt in his mind that he was being arrested for murder. Photographers were standing outside the police station to take pictures. He was shown the pile of clothing taken from the bodies, with the tie on top, and was told that his wife and daughter had been found. Tears came to his eyes and he bent down and picked up the tie.

That night, the Notting Hill police took two more confessions from Evans. He first admitted that he was responsible for their deaths and added that it was a relief to get it off his chest. He said he had killed his wife because she was running up debts. They had quarreled and he had hit her. Then he had strangled her with a piece of rope. He wrapped her body in the tablecloth in which she had been found and took her to the apartment below. After that, he put it in the washhouse at midnight on November 8th. The next day he fed the baby and left her alone all day. He repeated this again the day after. Then he quit his job and came home and killed his child by strangling her with his tie. He put her into the washhouse as well.

(Kennedy points out that Evans could not have put any bodies into the washhouse on those days because the carpenters were still in and out, and would have noticed. He also claims that this confession used words beyond Evans' intellectual capability, and that if he had sold all of his furniture, he'd certainly have included the baby's pram and highchair. Instead, he gave them to Christie, an indication that he believed his daughter was being given to the couple that Christie said he knew.)

Evans then offered a longer confession, which took about 75 minutes to record and read back to him. (Evans apparently claimed that in fact he was up all night talking with the police, until five o'clock in the morning. Kennedy points out the impossibility that this lengthy statement was taken in such a short amount of time and he believes that Evans was indeed subjected to a much longer interrogation.)

Painstakingly, Evans went through as much detail as he could recall about the days leading up to the murder, including hitting Beryl in the face. After that, in a fit of temper, he strangled her. He included putting her in the washhouse and using wood to hide the body. However, he twice made the statement that he had locked the washhouse door, and this was untrue, since the carpenters had been in and out of it all week without having to get someone to unlock it. Also the wood used to hide the bodies had come from the flooring that was pulled up on November 11th — which the carpenter recalled Christie asking for. At any rate, it was not available on the 8th and 10th. He also never gave an explanation as to why he killed his baby. He also said he left the rope around Beryl's neck, although no rope was ever found. Beryl also weighed only about ten to 15 pounds less than Evans, so he could not easily, nor soundlessly, have dragged her past where the Christie's bedroom overlooked the backyard. He also said that he left his baby unattended for two long days, with no one reporting her crying.

Kennedy suggests that at the very least, the police edited the statements and possibly even guided Evans' confession. People who feel coerced or who seek relief have been known to confess to crimes they did not commit. It is not altogether unlikely, especially in light of Evan's limited intelligence.

After the arraignment, when his mother came to see him, he had changed his mind. "I didn't do it, Mam," he insisted. "Christie done it."

Nevertheless, he continued to repeat the story he had told how he had done it to Dr. Matheson in the prison. He did it voluntarily, without prompting or questioning. Evans told how he strangled his wife but stopped short of talking about her disposal, saying it distressed him. However, he did not seem distressed. The doctor felt the story was genuine. He told the story several more times during his confinement, without accusing Christie. He gave the impression that it was a relief to get it all off his chest.

He also mentioned that he and Hume — the killer of Setty — had been together at Brixton and he remarked that he had often talked about that case. Thus it could be that the clippings in his flat were indeed his and possibly someone else had read them to him. The way his wife's body had been parceled was similar to the way Hume did with Setty. At no time prior to his trial did he protest his innocence to those who guarded him.

Soon, the whole affair was finally decided in court.

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