Gordon Cummins, the "Blackout Ripper"
Gordon Cummins- the Blackout Ripper of London
In 1942 following increased enemy bombing attacks the blackout was strictly enforced. Heavy curtains were pulled over windows and lights were dimmed so that they could not be spotted from the air by German bombers. Even cars and buses would move around with dimmed lights for there was not too much traffic on the roads owing to petrol rationing.
In February when London was engulfed in one of its darkest murkiest times four murders took place in one week in London. This was in contrast to the crime statistics which showed that murders fell during wartime.
A BRUTAL BLOODY WEEK
On Sunday 9th February Evelyn Hamilton a teacher ,was found in an air raid shelter having been strangled. Her handbag, believed to have contained £80 had been stolen. There were no signs that she had been sexually attacked. The next day, Monday 10th February Evelyn Oatley an ex dancer was found at home, on her bed, with her throat cut and she had been sexually assaulted by using a tin opener. On Tuesday 11th February Margaret Lowe was found strangled with a silk stocking and sexually mutilated by a razor blade whilst the next day Doris Jouannet was found having been strangled and mutilated. On Friday 14th February Mrs Greta Hayward was attacked near Piccadilly circus but the attack was disturbed by a delivery boy. The man ran off but in his hurry dropped his gas mask and case which by law all citizens were supposed to carry. On the case was stencilled the No525987 which would allow the authorities to trace who had dropped it. However his night was not yet over. Denied his first choice he cruised Piccadilly until he found a prostitute Kathleen King whom he accompanied back to her home and tried to throttle- she managed to fight off his attempts to kill her and he left, throwing her a £5 note as he went, but leaving his trouser belt behind.
From the information contained in the gas mask case the police were able to identify the man as Gordon Cummins a 28 year old Leading Aircraftsman, who had neither a criminal record nor a history of violence , although he did have pretentions that he was the illegitimate child of the aristocracy, his colleagues would call him “The Count”. On 16th February the police were at Cummins billet and arrested him. At the billet they found possessions of several of the women he had murdered.. The police had taken fingerprints from the mirror in Margaret Lowe’s room and the tin opener found near Evelyn Oatley. Prints were taken from Cummins and when they were compared to those found at the scene of Evelyn Oatley’s murder clearly showed that he was the killer.
TRIAL AND SENTENCE
Cummins trial started at the Old Bailey on 27th April 1942. He was charged with the murder of Evelyn Oatley as the police had the prints as evidence against him. The evidence was overwhelming and the trial took just one day, with the jury being out for 35 minutes only. The trial judge, Mr Justice Asquith sentenced Cummins to death by hanging.
Gordon Cummins received the death sentence and was hung in 1942 at Wandsworth Prison during an air raid. Police at Scotland Yard later claimed that they believed that he had killed two women in 1941