“FUNNILY enough in a dead body, there’s no blood spurts, anything like that,” former army cook Dennis Nilsen told police in North London in February 1983.
“It congeals inside and forms part of the flesh inside and becomes like anything in a butcher’s shop. There’s little or no blood.”
“You know these plastic bags you have, dustbin liners things like that. You slit one of those, you haul the body out onto the floorboards, put it on the sheet and cut it up.”
The sickening confession shocked the world when Nilsen admitted murdering at least 12 young men to police, revealing how he would hide the bodies under the floorboards in his flat and pull them up when “blinding drunk”.
“Come the summer it go hot and I knew there would be a smell problem,” he said. “So I knew I was going to have to deal with the smell problem and I thought what would cause the smell. And I came to the conclusion it was the innards, the soft parts of the body, the organs, things like that.”
He left the Army and became a police officer, then left that and found work as a security guard. In 1978, Nilsen embarked on a four-year spree around North London, seducing gay men, taking them home and then strangling his victims or drowning them in a bucket.
It was only when an engineer found a blocked drain that police entered Nilsen’s flat and found body parts stashed in cupboards. Once in police custody, the largely unsolicited confession came tumbling out, leading Nilsen to be jailed for life.
Now, his striking words will air during a 10-part CBS docudrama, Voice Of A Serial Killer, that combines reconstructed footage with real-life audio of some of the world’s most shocking confessions — some of them heard for the first time.
The second season is presented by criminology expert Professor David Wilson and forensic psychology expert Professor Michael Brookes, who analyse the gruesome tales told by some of the world’s most high-profile serial killers.
It features episodes dedicated to Aileen Wuornos, Peter Manuel, Stephen Griffiths, Robert Pickton and Gary Ridgway. The first sees Prof Holmes describe Nilsen as a “wonderful chameleon”.
“He disappeared into society — he didn’t stand out. He was probably someone who would make others probably feel at ease, usually the destitute,” he said.
The show also features the story of Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute arrested in 1990 and later executed having been found guilty of killing six men on Florida highways. Wuornos, dubbed the “damsel of death”, was sexually abused growing up and lived an itinerant lifestyle, supporting herself and her partner Tyria Moore with prostitution before becoming notorious for shooting clients and dumping their bodies.
Once in jail, detectives became convinced her relationship with Moore was key to extracting a confession, CBS claims. After listening in on the pair’s phone calls, police pressured Moore to urge Wuornos towards revealing the truth. Wuornos eventually admitted killing six men to police and despite reportedly being told of her lover’s role in helping detectives, remained loyal to Moore until the end of her life.
Further episodes show the story of serial killers Peter Manuel and Stephen Griffiths, who committed serial murders decades apart.
American-Scottish man Manuel was executed in 1958 after being convicted of killing seven people including the Smart family, who were shot dead in their home on New Year’s Day. CBS reports Manuel initially pleaded that he was insane and therefore not to blame, however recordings of his confessions reveal details only a killer would have known.
More than five decades later in 2010, PhD student Stephen Griffiths was taken into custody charged with murdering a local sex worker in his council flat. His interview with detectives shows him try to impress police with his knowledge of forensics and philosophy.