Posted by: cochinblogger | August 8, 2015

The Humor of Serial Killer Peter Nilsen

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Murder Under the Microscope, published in 1990, is a history of Scotland Yard’s forensic department and a collection of London-centric case studies that show how forensic science is applied in real life. Though the book is rather dated, being a true crime buff, I found much of interest between the covers. Here, however, I will confine myself to reporting the remarkable sense of humor displayed by the serial killer Dennis Nilsen. I’d read about him before, but no account that I’d read so far gave these examples of Nilson’s sense of humor that Phillip Paul includes in his book. If you want to read about Nilsen, start here: Dennis Nilsen.

Here is how the chapter on Dennis Nilsen ends:

From well-authenticated accounts of incidents since the start of his incarceration, it is evident that this seeming unfeeling killer is not without a sense of humour. Asked by a prison governor whether he was interested in sport, Nilsen is reported to have replied that he was — and added that, in his present circumstances, the sport that was of greatest interest to him was pole-vaulting. At the opening of an interview with a police officer, he asked what he should do with the remains of a cigarette he had been smoking. When told ‘Put it down the toilet’, he is said to have responded ‘The last time I put anything down the toilet I got into trouble’. [His habit of flushing the dissected remains of his victims down his toilet had led to the discovery of his crimes.] Hearing that a film company was considering making a movie on his activities, he wrote to Chambers [the police detective who had handled his case] asking him to use his influence with the producer, to ensure that the list of credits showed the cast in order of disappearance rather than appearance!

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