First Kill, Last Kill: Introduction (02:44)
This program will explore how serial killers evolved from their first kill to their last kill. In the summer of 1986, a heat wave caused people to leave their windows open in the neighborhood of Stockwell. Over 17 weeks, Kenneth Erskine strangled 7 people in their beds, preying on a vulnerable group because of a sexual obsession. (Credits)
Born July, 1963 (02:26)
Erskine's parents divorced when he was 12 and he entered a reform school to deal with his anti-social behavior. Bryan Jackson says Erskine set fire to the school and pushed another student off a moving bus. After his mother caught him trying to force his younger brother to smoke marijuana, she kicked him out; addicted to drugs, Erskine squatted throughout the area, but police never located his primary residence.
Police arrested Erskine inside the Royal Dental Hospital. After his fifth arrest for burglary within a year, the government incarcerated him at Feltham Young Offenders Institution. James Doel remembers how they would play chess and Erskine would paint daily.
Erskine's Paintings (03:19)
Doel describes how Erskine would laugh quietly while he painted graphic images— all the paintings depicted mutilated senior citizens, some being sexually assaulted. Feltham released him in 1980 and he returned to a life of crime. After police arrested him for the murders, he explained how a woman's voice haunted him.
Exhibiting Symptoms of Schizophrenia (02:35)
As a child, Erskine stabbed a teacher, strangled a guinea pig, and attempted to hang his brother. By his early 20s, he exhibited symptoms of both Schizophrenia and gerontophilia. Nancy Emms, a 78-year-old retired schoolteacher, suffered from dementia.
The First Murder (02:14)
On April 8th, Erskine strangled Emms with his right hand while covering her mouth with his left— after she died, he sexually assaulted her. He established a ritual by staging the crime scene, making it look as if she died of natural causes, and showing affection for his victim. Nancy's doctor signed the death certificate, believing she died in her sleep.
Suspicions Arise (02:30)
When home help realized that Emm's television was missing, police grew suspicious and ordered an autopsy. Wilson describes how Erskine became addicted to killing and started planning a second murder. Serial killers tend to be geographically stable.
June 9th, 1986 (03:40)
Erskine needed more excitement and spent two months fantasizing about how he would murder next. Janet Cockett, the second victim, was not sexually assaulted, but her nightgown was torn from her body. He left his hand print and turned the family photographs away from the crime scene.
June 27, 1986 (02:00)
Fred Prentiss managed to hit an alarm by his bedside to deter Erskine from strangling him. Police were concerned Prentiss would not live until the trial. Erskine killed two people the following night.
Hard to Catch (02:11)
Serial killers frequently stalk strangers to find victims— as a serial killer's fantasies escalate, the rituals evolve. Erskine targeted elderly men and woman, would sexually assault them, and rearrange the crime scene afterward. Dr. Gisli Gudjonsson describes that intervals between murders shorten as fantasies develop.
June 28th, 1986 (02:33)
The staff of Somerville House discovered Valentine Gleim and Zbigniew Strabawa dead in adjoining rooms. Erskine stayed at the old people's home to wash and shave before departing. Police pooled resources and started staking out assisted living homes.
July 8th, 1986 (03:02)
When Erskine murdered William Carmen, he turned away the family photographs and left a vest with the same tears in it as Cockett's dressing gown. The Stockwell Strangler shoved paper and cloth down William Downe's throat to escalate the affixation. Police discovered a palm print left at the scene.
Last Murder (03:00)
Scotland Yard set up a fingerprint team to look for a match. Florence Tisdall needed a walker to move around her apartment. Erskine sexually assaulted her and murdered her.
An Hour After Last Murder (02:38)
A witness saw Erskine vomiting nearby— Terry Bristow recalls finding Tisdall's body the following day. Erskine redressed her in a nightgown after killing and sexually assaulting her. Police matched the palm prints Erskine left at the murder scene.
Manhunt Begins (02:34)
Police contacted the benefits office to see if Erskine was claiming benefits— detectives arrested him after he arrived to receive his unemployment check. During the trial, Erskine masturbated when police testified about his crimes. Gudjonsson describes why the psychiatric evaluation proved inconclusive.
Kill, Kill, Kill (04:22)
Police conducted a line-up for Prentiss and the witness, both identified Erskine. During the trial, Erskine denied any wrongdoing, appeared disinterested, and would laugh out loud on occasion. Found guilty on all charges, the judge sentenced him to seven life terms, but that was overturned in 2009 and he was moved to Broadmoor hospital.
Credits: First Kill, Last Kill (00:34)
Credits: First Kill, Last Kill
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