Shadow Boxing

A blog that probes the mind's dark secrets

I Just Wanna Be a Serial Killer

London's "Gay Slayer" Killed for Attention

Colin Ireland fantasized about being a serial killer. He read about the methods of the FBI profilers and figured out what he’d need to do.

He prepared a murder kit containing handcuffs, extra clothing, rope, gloves, and plastic bags. Then between March and June 1993, Ireland went to gay clubs in London, specifically a club that had attracted gay serial killer Michael Lupo during the 1980s. There Ireland selected “easy” victims – men who were into bondage.  He figured they would willingly allow themselves to be bound for kinky sexual escapades. Then he could do whatever he liked, including kill them.

The first man he approached was West End theater director Peter Walker. Ireland bound and tortured him in his South London flat, and then suffocated him with a plastic bag. He spent time with the corpse, placing condoms in his mouth and nostrils, and posing two Teddy bears on him in an obscene position. 

Then Ireland waited for the news reports. But to his disappointment, nothing was printed, so he telephoned a newspaper anonymously to “leak” the story himself. He reportedly mentioned that the murder was the result of a New Year’s resolution.

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Two months later, Ireland suffocated Christopher Dunn by shoving material down his throat. Dunn, too, was left in a sexually provocative position, handcuffed and wearing a black leather harness. For dramatic effect, Ireland had lit a match in his pubic hair.

This crime, when discovered, was not linked to the first, which frustrated the killer. Despite his fantasy of fame, Ireland knew he was getting nowhere so he made another anonymous call. The police investigated, but Ireland had left no fingerprints and no way to trace the paraphernalia he'd used. 

After strangling Perry Bradley III, Ireland anonymously called the police. The investigative team contacted Robert Ressler, a profiler from the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, who agreed to examine the three crime scenes. Ressler speculated that this killer was seeking a thrill from media attention rather than from the murders themselves. (Ireland must have been ecstatic by a profiler's attention.)

Then a fourth victim quickly turned up. Andrew Collier was found in his apartment, with his cat, its neck broken, placed with its mouth on his genitals. This time, a fingerprint from an unknown source was lifted and preserved. The killer made several phone calls to police, claiming he was losing control. He warned them that he would kill one victim per week if they did not stop him, and expressed frustration over their inability to link the four murders. (After all, he'd been quite meticulous with his "signature.")

But Ireland was in a no-win situation. On the one hand, he hoped to commit the “perfect murder,” but on the other he longed for credit—and one ambition canceled the other.  

It seemed clear that he would eventually make a mistake.

On June 15, Ireland handcuffed and strangled a fifth victim, Emanuel Spiteri, in southeast London. He once again sent police to the victim’s home. In another phone message, he admitted that he'd read a lot of books about serial killers and knew that he could now be classified as one, so he was going to stop. 

“I will probably never reoffend again,” he declared. He seemed on the verge of not only the perfect crime but of five of them.

Scotland Yard detectives checked surveillance cameras that recoded activity on the transit platforms at Charing Cross Station. The fifth victim was there on the blurred videotapes – with another man. That person’s image was made public and other men told police they had met him in a bar.

Ireland heard this and came forward. He knew the game was up, but he still denied his involvement. However, he’d made two mistakes: letting himself be filmed with a victim and leaving a fingerprint. He finally confessed in detail. After all, he’d wanted to be known as a serial killer. Now he was one of those who'd let themselves be caught.

Ireland blamed his violence on the bullying he'd received as a child for being a “lanky little runt.” He'd been married twice, but both relationships were short-lived, and he'd developed several paranoid obsessions. He also suffered from dramatic mood swings. When he'd decided to become a serial killer, he told police, it was because he just generally disliked people and had lost control.

Ireland died in prison last February.

 

 

Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D., an expert on murder and other shadow themes, teaches forensic psychology and has published 46 books.

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