Anthony John Hardy: The Camden Ripper
River of Blood
On December 17, 2000, a man walking along the River Thames in West London noticed something unusual floating in the water. As he drew near, he realized that the object was the upper body of a woman. The rest of her body had been severed at the waist.
Police were immediately called to the scene near Church Road in Battersea and the womans remains were drawn from the river. Medical examiners later speculated that she had been in the water for a couple weeks and had likely been cut by a sharp instrument such as a sword. According to a December 29, 2000, BBC News article, the woman had two distinct characteristics, a tattoo and a twisted lateral incisor tooth that the police hoped would help identify her.
It didnt take long for the relatives of the victim to come forth after seeing pictures of the tattoo in the local newspapers. The young woman was identified as Zoe Louise Parker, 24, who worked as a prostitute in the Feltham and Hounslow area. In a January 5, 2001, BBC News article, her mother described her as a loving, caring daughter who suffered from learning disabilities. The family was devastated by the loss and appealed for any information concerning their daughter or her murder.
Police hoped to find the killer before he struck again. However, they had no strong leads in the case and no suspects. Less than two months later another horrific crime shocked the community.
In late February of that year, three 10-year-old boys fishing in the Regents Canal at Camden retrieved a bag from the murky water. Upon opening it, the boys were mortified to find human body parts. Police were contacted and a search of the area immediately commenced.
During a sweep of the canal, investigators found approximately six bags, which contained various body parts wrapped in bin liners. Bricks had been used to weigh down the bags. Not all of the womans body was accounted for. According to a March 2001 Birmingham Evening Mail article, the authorities suggested that the rest of her body was either still in the canal wrapped in bags or being kept by the killer as a trophy.
The woman was later identified as Paula Fields, 31, of Liverpool, who had lived in the Highbury Grove area for a couple years before her death. She was a mother of two who worked as a prostitute to support her 150 a day crack cocaine habit. Paula was last seen getting into a red car on December 13. The authorities speculated that a hacksaw was likely used to dismember her body.
Initially, Paulas ex-boyfriend, who had a violent criminal history, was suspected of the gruesome murder. However, there was no evidence indicating that he was involved in the crime. Police eventually let the man go and began the search anew for a suspect.
In December 2002, a series of equally horrific crimes occurred in the Camden area. Even though police initially denied any link between the new victims and Zoe and Paulas murders, it was later speculated that the same person might have been involved. The similarities between the cases were just too much to ignore. By January 2003, the police had a new suspect in custody, Anthony Hardy, 51, an unemployed mechanical engineer. His gruesome activities later earned him the nickname the Camden Ripper.