John George Haigh

"The Acid Bath Murderer"

July 24 1909 - August 10 1949

- his parents were members of Plymouth Brethren, an anti-modern conservative protestant

- his father forced him to live within a 3m fence around their house to keep "outside" life away

- due to his parents' religion being forced onto him, John suffered religious nightmares frequently

(Encyclopedia of Murderers "John George Haigh")

- John received scholarships from schools and was then apprenticed at an engineer firm (Encyclopedia of Murderers "John George Haigh")

- not being able to keep a job, John bounced between sales and insurance jobs

- by 21, John was a suspect to a theft incident

- John got married to a woman which did not last long since he was jailed for fraud the same year he got married, 1934

- while in jail, John's wife had their daughter but gave her up for adoption and left John

- once released from jail, John moved to London where he then became a chauffeur to a wealthy man

- after committing an act of fraud again, he was imprisoned for 4 years

- while in jail, John connected with the other criminals and began to read books on acids which were located in the prisons library, he would then get a jar, find dead mice from the field and pour acid taken from the shop, onto the mice, to see how long it would take for them to dissolve (he then found a combination that would work on humans)

(The Acid Bath Murderer "John George Haigh")

Episodic Aggressive Behaviours

1. Victim of physical or emotional abuse or cruel parenting

- John did not have the opportunity to be a child, he would spend his time going to school then would return to his house where he is blocked from the "outside" world by his father

- John was not allowed to watch TV, read magazines or the newspaper, or listen to music because it was considered sinful in their religion

- his father punished him for "sinning," which resulted in John being scarred with a blue blemish on his forehead

2. Mask of Sanity

- John worked in places where he had to look professional all the time, making him seem unsuspicious because he was knowledgeable to get a good working job

- Jon had the ability to seem like a regular person when employed by a wealthy man in London, despite the fact that he had just been released from jail

3. Extraordinary Cruelty to Animals

- while in jail, John would find dead mice and pour acid on them to see how long it would take for their bodies to dissolve

- this was done to prepare John for what he planned to do to humans after being released

4. Severe Memory Disorders and Chronic Inability to Tell the Truth

- once John realized that saying he grew up in a bad household and that his parents shaped him into the person he was, would potentially help his case, he lied in hopes that he would not be found guilty

- John believed that if there was no body, then there was no crime to be pinned on him

5. Compulsivity

- in his recurring dream, he would always see a man collecting a cup of blood, but he would wake before seeing anyone drink it

- John believed he needed to drink his victims blood in order to live

- John enjoyed keeping detailed diary entries of his murders to help in reliving them

The Henderson's

John lured both Mr. and Mrs. Henderson away from their home, towards his, where he told them he would show them an "invention." On the arrival at John's apartment, he shot Mr. Henderson with a .38 revolver he had stolen from the Henderson's home. He then found Mrs. Henderson and advised her that her husband had fallen ill, and then he shot her too. Prior to pouring sulphuric acid onto their bodies to help the disposal process, John drank blood from both victims. Once both Mr. and Mrs. Henderson had died, John forged a letter from them and sold all of their belongings giving him access to 8,000 pounds.

(The Acid Bath Murderer "John George Haigh")

Olivia Durand-Deacon

John's last victim, Olivia Durand-Deacon, was present at a hotel in London the same time John was. Olivia planned to team-up with John on an idea she had about artificial nails. Once John agreed, he brought her down to his workshop where Olivia assumed they would get to work, but he shot her, drank her blood, and disposed of her body by pouring sulphuric acid on her. John attempted to sell the limited items he had of hers, but he did not make much profit and attempted to find a new victim.

Before John could go through with another murder, he was arrested for all 6 murders.

(The Acid Bath Murderer "John George Haigh")

Modus Operandi: Evolved from beating to death, to a single shot that killed.

Signature: Drinking all of his victims blood and making money off of their belongings.

Arrest, Trial and Sentence


John was arrested on February 26, 1949 when one of Ms. Durand-Deacon's friends noticed her missing. The friend was aware of Ms. Durand-Deacon's whereabouts the night before, therefore she knew to approach John. After questioning John and him not having any inconsistencies in his answer, one of the detectives felt uneasy about him and believed it was their job to do further research. After finding out John not only owns a factory (which was a lie), he also owned a little apartment. After searching through the apartment it was evident Ms. Durand-Deacon had been there and after finding personal items, police found out there were more victims. After a week long search of the premises, the police had enough evidence to arrest John.

(Youtube "Serial Killers - Crimes and Trials")


John went for trial on July 18, 1949. The prosecution was able to confirm John's beliefs by asking a detective what John had confessed. John believed that with no bodies he could not be convicted for committing any crime. After questioning the forensic scientist next, he was able to confirm the human body parts that remained on the premises that John owned because they would take longer to dissolve then the rest of the body. The prosecution also made it evident that John indeed had the mens rea when committing these murders because he had to prepare for the disposal of the bodies by having the acid and the drums accessible. John's own demeanor throughout the trial did not help his case because he was preoccupied with crosswords while the prosecution was presenting their case.

The defense decided to find John not guilty because he had a severe mental illness called pure paranoia. After the defense's only witness could not back up this illness, and admitted that John must have had an idea of what he was doing to some extent, the jury took only 13 minutes to reach a verdict. On July 19, 1949, the jury came to the conclusion that John Haigh was guilty.

(Youtube "Serial Killers - Crimes and Trials")


John was sentenced to hang for the murders he had committed and on August 10th at 9:00AM, John was hanged.

(Youtube "Serial Killers - Crimes and Trials")

Visionary or the Comfort-Oriented Hedonist?

It is safe to say that John George Haigh can fall into either typology. He can be considered a visionary due to the recurring dreams he had as a child. Having visions of someone killing someone else, then taking their blood but waking up before the dream ending can result in a feeling of needing to complete their dream. After seeing something so many times, it is possible that John felt it was necessary to do what was done in his dreams, but finish it off by drinking their blood.

But how can he be considered a comfort-oriented hedonist? Knowing that John has a history of fraud, we know that he would not just give up that lifestyle so easily. That is why after killing his victims, he would forge their signatures and writing to gain access to all their banking and valuables to take and make money. At the same time, it can be believed that John enjoyed his kills because of the planning that went into each murder. He had a specific way in luring his victims into privacy and he evolved from beating them to death, to something simpler, shooting them. The fact that John felt no remorse and believed that he could get away with it because there were no bodies, as well as doing crosswords during his trial shows that he did not care and felt he was better than everyone. He enjoyed his kills because he thought he could get away with it.

Not only was John a white male between the ages of 20 and 40 but he killed within his race, robbed his victims, drank their blood and tried to cover his tracks by melting each body with sulphuric acid. John George Haigh fits every aspect of a typical serial killer.

Socialization Theory and Biological Trait Theory

Socialization Theory:

Families are a child's primary institution. It is where a child learns all their values and the norms within their society. John was brought up in a home that distanced themselves from society and his parents influenced him heavily because of their belief in Plymouth Brethren. The Haigh family went to the extreme when it came to their religion and it tampered with John's thought process, forcing him to grow up distanced from other children his age.

Biological Trait Theory:

The abuse John received from his father from "sinning" and the restrictions placed on him with the outside world did not allow John to live a normal life. Since he was abused, he felt it was necessary to not just abuse people, but kill them due to his own fathers actions.