Dennis Nilsen

by Tanner Hyatt

Early Life

Dennis Nilsen was born November 23, 1945 in Fraserburgh, Scotland. His parents' marriage ended in divorce and as a result, he lived with his mom, siblings, and grandfather, whom he adored. Nilsen claimed that his beloved grandfather's unexpected death that he witnessed when he was just six years old, and the traumatizing viewing of his corpse at the funeral, led to his later behavioral psychopathology. Soon after, his mother went on to remarry and have four more children, leaving him fairly left out and lonely. Aware of his homosexual attractions, he had no sexual encounters as an adolescent, and at 16 he enlisted in the army. He became a cook, serving as a butcher in the Army Catering Corps, learning the skills that served him so well during his five-year killing spree.

Nelsin's Killings

He left the army in 1972 he took up police training, where he discovered a fascination with morgue visits and cut open bodies. His first visit from the police came in 1973, when a man named David Painter claimed that Nilsen had taken pictures of him while he was asleep. Nilsen was brought in for questioning about the incident, but was released without charge because there was no evidence. He met his first in a bar on December 29, 1978, and invited him home, but the next morning he first strangled him with a tie before drowning him in a bucket of water. He took the corpse to his bathroom to wash it and then placed it back in his bed, later remarking that he found the corpse beautiful. He then spent the night sleeping next to the dead man and then finally hid the corpse under his floorboards for seven months before burning the remains. Nilsen's second brush with the police came in October 1979, when a college student accused him of trying to strangle him during a bondage, but despite the student's claims, no charges were pressed against Nilsen. He encountered his second victim, Kenneth Ockendon, at a bar on December 3, 1979. He brought him to his apartment and strangled Ockenden to death with an electrical cable and slept with it. He took photos, engaged in sex, and finally deposited the corpse under the floorboards, sometimes removing it to engage in conversation with it.

By the time of his seventh kill, he was forced to stuff the bodies under the kitchen sink because he was running out of space around the apartment and in the floor. When neighbors complained about the smell, he convinced them that it was from structural problems with the building. To get rid of the corpses, he would dismember them with a large kitchen knife and boiled the skulls to remove the flesh. He buried limbs in the garden and in the shed and stuffed torsos into suitcases until he could burn the remains.

He continued to lure men into his apartment in order to kill them. He would boil the heads, feet, and hands, then dissected the bodies into small pieces that could be flushed down the toilet. Then Nilsen was met on the evening of February 9 by police, who informed him that they wished to question him about the human remains that had been discovered in the drains. On entering the apartment, they noticed the foul odor, and asked Nilsen what it was. He then calmly confessed that what they were looking for was stored in bags around the apartment, which included two dismembered heads and other larger body parts.