River of Blood
Thames River, London
On December 17, 2000, a man walking along the River Thames in West London noticed something unusual floating in the water. As he drew near, he realized that the object was the upper body of a woman. The rest of her body had been severed at the waist.
Police were immediately called to the scene near Church Road in Battersea and the womans remains were drawn from the river. Medical examiners later speculated that she had been in the water for a couple weeks and had likely been cut by a sharp instrument such as a sword. According to a December 29, 2000, BBC News article, the woman had two distinct characteristics, a tattoo and a twisted lateral incisor tooth that the police hoped would help identify her.
Zoe Parker’s rose tattoo
It didnt take long for the relatives of the victim to come forth after seeing pictures of the tattoo in the local newspapers. The young woman was identified as Zoe Louise Parker, 24, who worked as a prostitute in the Feltham and Hounslow area. In a January 5, 2001, BBC News article, her mother described her as a loving, caring daughter who suffered from learning disabilities. The family was devastated by the loss and appealed for any information concerning their daughter or her murder.
Police hoped to find the killer before he struck again. However, they had no strong leads in the case and no suspects. Less than two months later another horrific crime shocked the community.
In late February of that year, three 10-year-old boys fishing in the Regents Canal at Camden retrieved a bag from the murky water. Upon opening it, the boys were mortified to find human body parts. Police were contacted and a search of the area immediately commenced.
During a sweep of the canal, investigators found approximately six bags, which contained various body parts wrapped in bin liners. Bricks had been used to weigh down the bags. Not all of the womans body was accounted for. According to a March 2001 Birmingham Evening Mail article, the authorities suggested that the rest of her body was either still in the canal wrapped in bags or being kept by the killer as a trophy.
The woman was later identified as Paula Fields, 31, of Liverpool, who had lived in the Highbury Grove area for a couple years before her death. She was a mother of two who worked as a prostitute to support her 150 a day crack cocaine habit. Paula was last seen getting into a red car on December 13. The authorities speculated that a hacksaw was likely used to dismember her body.
Initially, Paulas ex-boyfriend, who had a violent criminal history, was suspected of the gruesome murder. However, there was no evidence indicating that he was involved in the crime. Police eventually let the man go and began the search anew for a suspect.
In December 2002, a series of equally horrific crimes occurred in the Camden area. Even though police initially denied any link between the new victims and Zoe and Paulas murders, it was later speculated that the same person might have been involved. The similarities between the cases were just too much to ignore. By January 2003, the police had a new suspect in custody, Anthony Hardy, 51, an unemployed mechanical engineer. His gruesome activities later earned him the nickname the Camden Ripper.
According to a November 2003 article in The Daily Mail, Anthony John Hardy was born in 1951 in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire and was the son of a coal miner. From an early age Hardy yearned to escape the lower middle-class lifestyle in which he was raised. He worked hard in school and excelled academically. Ultimately, he was accepted at Londons Imperial College to study engineering.
During the mid-1970s, Hardy met and married Judith Dwight, with whom he attended university. The couple moved to Tasmania, Australia, where they raised their two boys and two girls. However, Justin Davenport and Hugh Dougherty reported in a November 2003 article in The Evening Standard that from as early as 1982 Hardy displayed symptoms of mental illness.
The Daily Mail article claimed that during that year, Hardy tried to kill Judith by bludgeoning her over the head with a water bottle, before trying to drown her in the bath. No charges were filed against Hardy and he checked himself into a psychiatric clinic in Queensland following the incident. He remained there for several weeks before returning back to Britain.
The couple filed for divorce in 1986. Judith maintained custody of the children and like Hardy, moved back to Britain to begin a new life. Shortly after returning to his home country, Hardy began stalking Judith, which led to her filing a restraining order against him. Davenport and Dougherty claimed that he broke the restriction order and as a result he was temporarily imprisoned.
Anthony John Hardy
Following his release, Hardy sought psychiatric help at outpatient clinics. According to Jeanette Oldhams January 2003 article in The Scotsman, he was diagnosed with, peripheral neuropathy, a disorder which is known to cause depression. He was also diagnosed with manic depression and prescribed medication to reduce symptoms.
In the early- and mid-1990s, Hardy was homeless and spent much of his time living in various hostels throughout the city. During that time, Hardy began abusing drugs and alcohol, which further exacerbated his psychological problems. He got into trouble with the law on several more occasions for aggressive behavior and theft for which he served a short stint in jail.
Davenport and Dougherty reported that in 1998 Hardy was arrested for indecent assault after a prostitute claimed he had raped her but the charges were later dropped and he was released. A January 2003 BBC News article reported that he was also investigated for three other rapes, yet, there was insufficient evidence to bring a case against him. However, he was ordered to seek psychiatric counseling, which he took advantage of at a local hospital. He was eventually discharged and referred to out patient care.
Anthony Hardy’s apartment in Camden
In 2000, Hardy moved into a one-bedroom public housing flat on Royal College Street in Camden. Oldham suggested that his new residence was located a short distance from Kings Cross, an area where prostitutes frequented. It was a location that Hardy deliberately chose for that very reason. The neighborhood would become his hunting grounds.
In January 2002, Hardy caught the attention of police once again when he was caught pouring battery acid into a neighbors mailbox. At around the same time a concerned neighbor told police that they believed something was amiss at Hardys flat. The tip led to a gruesome discovery.
When police arrived at Hardys residence, they found the bedroom door locked. When they broke it open they found the corpse of a young woman lying naked on his bed. The Daily Mail reported that there was evidence the woman suffered from cuts to her head, bite marks and bruising, indicating that she might have been murdered. However, pathologists claimed that she died of a heart attack and not foul play.
The woman was later identified as Sally Rose White, 38, a prostitute from the Kings Cross area, who was known to have an addiction to crack cocaine. The Daily Mail suggested that Sally suffered from brain damage and behavioral problems caused by a birth-related spinal cord injury. It was believed that her condition, which worsened with age and lack of treatment, coupled with her addiction to drugs resulted in her heart attack. However, her death from natural causes would later be questioned when the remains of other women were discovered in Hardys flat.
The Bin Murders
On December 30, 2002, a homeless man foraging in garbage bins for food came across a horrible discovery. Within one of the bags he found human remains, including severed sections of two legs. The homeless man took the remains with him to a nearby hospital where the police were contacted.
Upon their arrival at the crime scene, investigators immediately cordoned off the area around the bins, which was located behind a pub on Royal College Street. Officers searched the garbage container and found approximately eight more bags containing various body parts. According to a December 2002 BBC News article, the torso of a young woman was also found in a wheelie bin about 100 yards from the original discovery.
The body parts were taken to St. Pancras mortuary to be examined by pathologists. The cause of death was difficult to establish because the heads and hands of the victims were still missing. Yet, pathologists were able to determine that the remains were that of two different women, who were likely murdered sometime over the Christmas holidays. DNA tests were conducted in the hopes that it would help investigators uncover the identity of the women.
The Daily Mail suggested that a trail of blood led the police to Hardys flat located a short distance from where the bodies were discovered. They promptly obtained a warrant and searched his ground floor apartment, where they found a great deal of incriminating evidence. At the time of the search Hardy was nowhere to be found.
A November 2003 article by Jeff Edwards and Don Mackay in The Mirror, reported that investigators discovered in Hardys flat a hacksaw with human skin still attached to the blade. Moreover, an electric jigsaw power tool was found, pornographic magazines were scattered about, a womans black stiletto shoe rested on the windowsill, blood was found in the bathroom and a devils mask lay alongside a note on a table reading Sally White RIP. However, one of the most incriminating pieces of evidence found at his apartment was a womans torso wrapped in bin liners.
Following the gruesome discovery, a massive search was launched to find Hardy who had gone missing for several days. It was suspected that he fled town. However, a CCTV video surveillance camera caught him on tape on January 1 trying to fill a prescription for his diabetic medication at a London hospital. A January 2003 BBC News article claimed that Hardy shaved off his beard in an attempt to alter his appearance.
Anthony Hardy caught on hospital video
During an interview with hospital staff, officers learned that Hardy spent four hours awaiting his medication. It was speculated that he had been drinking because he smelled of alcohol. According to Oldham, Hardy became panicky and left the hospital without receiving any medication after staff tried to convince him to go to a hostel.
The BBC News article reported that a member of the public had seen Hardy with a young woman named Kelly Anne Nicol, 24, shortly after the Christmas holidays. Family members and police were concerned for her safety, fearing that she might be Hardys next victim. However, their fears were alleviated when she contacted her parents to let them know she was okay. Even though she had contact with Hardy who repeatedly tried to persuade her back to his apartment, she did not allow herself to be influenced by him. It was a move that surely saved her life.
On January 2, a local citizen contacted police after spotting Hardy at Great Ormond Street Hospital for children in central London. Police converged on the scene a short while later and found Hardy in the area where he was last witnessed. He was promptly arrested and held at a local police station. It was there that he would reveal the full extent of his crimes.
Elizabeth Valad and Brigitte MacClennan
Not long after Hardy was apprehended, investigators were able to obtain the identification of two of the victims whose remains were discovered at his home and in the trash bin. They were identified as Elizabeth Selina Valad, 29, of London and Brigitte MacClennan, 34, of Camden. The two women were found to have a lot in common.
Bob Graham suggested in a September 2003 article in The Scotsman, that Elizabeth was a rebellious woman who lived a wayward life from as early as her teens. Born in Nottingham, England, in 1972, Elizabeth was the only child of Iranian professor Hassan Valad and his British wife Jackie. The couple lived a short while in America. Yet, the marriage broke up when Jackie decided to return with Elizabeth back to Nottingham. At the time, Elizabeth was about one year old.
Jackie was quoted in Grahams article saying that her daughter was a very difficult child who mixed with the wrong people as a teenager. She further stated that Elizabeth dropped out of school and moved to London by herself at age 16. From that point there was little contact between the two.
The Daily Mail reported that at age 18, Elizabeth began a relationship with a man with whom she lived with in London. Shortly into the relationship, Elizabeth became pregnant and later gave birth to her little girl. The three lived with one another for a brief period before Elizabeth left her newly formed family in search of a different lifestyle.
It was further reported in The Daily Mail that Elizabeth worked in a massage parlor where she became involved with a married millionaire, who set her up in an expensive apartment and provided her with luxurious gifts. After some time, she moved out and started to date other people. The article stated that she began to take crack cocaine and went back to prostitution to fund her lifestyle. Her addiction eventually led to her death. Hardy was thought to have played upon his victims vulnerabilities by luring them to his flat with the promise of money or drugs.
It was Elizabeths torso that was found at Hardys residence and her legs that were discovered by the homeless person in the bin. It was difficult for investigators to identify her initially because her hands and head were never found. However, they were able to obtain a positive ID on her by processing the serial numbers found on her breast implants.
Brigitte MacClennans identity was revealed on January 6, during a brief hearing at a Hendon court where Hardy was charged with the murders. Brigitte, whose torso and other body parts were found in garbage bins, was identified through her DNA. Like Elizabeth, her head and hands were never found.
According to a Tahira Yaqoob and Michael Seamarks January 2003 article in The Daily Mail, Brigitte, a native New Zealander and mother of two boys, worked as a prostitute in Camden. The money she earned from selling her body was mostly used to finance her crack cocaine addiction. Hardy was believed to have been one of her customers, which is how she ended up in his flat. The article suggested that Brigitte was murdered on or before December 30, 2002, at around the same time Elizabeth was killed.
The murders of Elizabeth and Brigitte led to a reinvestigation into Sally Whites death of alleged natural causes. It was believed that Hardy might have actually murdered her and simply got away with it when the pathologist incorrectly diagnosed her cause of death as a heart attack. They just had to prove their theory. However, after a brief inquest it was determined that Sally had indeed died of natural causes related to chronic heart disease. The findings would later be disproved following surprising new evidence brought forth by Hardy.
Trials and Confessions
Central Criminal Court, The Old Bailey
Hardys murder trial began at The Old Bailey Courthouse in November 2003. During the onset of the trial, he made a startling confession. He not only pled guilty to the murders of Elizabeth and Brigitte but also that of Sally White, who was thought to have died of natural causes. He had previously denied murdering the women. A November 2003 article by Hugh Dougherty and Finian Davern in The Evening Standard, suggested that the confession discounted the conclusions of previous pathological reports into Sallys death and threw into question the credibility of the medical examiners that worked on her case.
Anthony John Hardy
During the trial it was revealed how each woman succumbed to their gruesome demise. Hardy was said to have lured all of the women to his apartment with the offer of money. He then engaged in extreme sex with the women before strangling them.
Davenport and Dougherty suggested that Hardy was a pornography-obsessed necrophiliac who achieved sexual gratification by posing the nude bodies of his victims after death and taking explicit photos of their naked corpses. In fact, it was suggested in a November 2003 BBC News article that his primary motivation for committing the murders was so that he could photograph them. It was also suggested that at the time police found Sally White, Hardy was likely in the process of preparing her body for photographs. She too would have likely ended up in the trash bin had the police not interrupted his gruesome activities.
According to Edwards and Mackay, Hardy had taken about 44 pornographic pictures of Elizabeth and Brigitte, which he allegedly sent to a friend. The pictures were later turned into the police. They claimed that one of the macabre photographs depicted Elizabeth lying posed on the bed with her facial features obscured by a devil mask and a baseball hat, both of which were later found at Hardys flat during the search.
After Hardy had finished with his victims, he used a hacksaw to dismember their bodies in his bathtub. Evidence of his victims blood was found in his bathroom. Oldham reported that when the police interviewed neighbors after the discovery of the bodies, they claimed to have heard drilling sounds at all hours of the day.
BBC News reported that the judge overhearing the case, Justice Keith, said to Hardy at the conclusion of the trial, Only you know for sure how your victims met their deaths but the unspeakable indignities to which you subjected the bodies of your last two victims in order to satisfy your depraved and perverted needs are in no doubt.
On November 25, 2003 Hardy was given three life sentences for the murders. An article in The Guardian Unlimited said that the judge would later decide whether he could ever be released on license.
Failure of the System
In January 2002, following the discovery of Sally Whites body and Hardys arrest for having poured acid into a neighbors mailbox, he was detained in the mental ward at St. Lukes Hospital in Muswell to undergo a psychological evaluation. The Daily Mail reported that while Hardy was being evaluated, he made sport of conning psychiatrists. The article quoted a friend of his who said that Hardy believed he was cleverer than they were. However, mental health experts saw through him.
Despite Hardys efforts to fool them, psychiatrists found Hardy to be a risk to the community, especially women. Edwards and Mackay quoted Dr. Alan Stuart-Reid, who warned that, His behavior is characterized by impulsiveness, lack of forethought about the consequences of his actions, seriously irresponsible behavior, inability to learn from experience and lack of concern for others feelings. Moreover, Stuart-Reid also said that there was a strong chance that if he were reintegrated back into society he would likely re-offend and cause others serious physical or psychological harm.
Despite repeated warnings from health care professionals, Hardy was released in November of that year. A panel, made up of three health managers made the decision after having found Hardy of little threat to society. Davenport and Dougherty said that their decision was allegedly based on reports by psychiatrists that he was of low to medium risk. However, Deborah Orr suggested in her November 2003 article in The Independent that the panel actually failed to read the report put forth by psychiatrists that warned against Hardys potentially violent behavior. It turned out to be a fatal error.
Martin Bright and Jo Revill reported in their January 2003 article in The Observer that a spokeswoman for the Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust confirmed that Hardy was under supervision throughout Christmas and even kept an appointment with his supervisory group outside the hospital on December 30, the day the vagrant first discovered the body parts behind a pub in Camden Town. Yet, even though he was under supervision it was extremely limited. According to The Daily Mail, health supervisors were actually so scared of him they refused to go to his council flat, agreeing to meet him only in cafes. Their fears should have been enough to raise the alarm bells about his behavior but nothing was done about it and Hardy remained free to roam the streets.
Following Hardys arrest, a public inquiry was held to determine why he was released when he was such an obvious threat to society. Orr claimed that there was increasing pressure to dismiss the panel of three health managers from their duties. However, some argued that the panel should not have been faulted for falling victim to Hardys manipulative psychotic behavior and that the blame rests solely on the offender. Regardless, the fact remains that had Hardy been kept in the hospital, Elizabeth and Brigitte would likely be alive today.
To date, it is unknown if Hardy was responsible for the murders of Zoe Parker and Paula Fields. However, police continue to believe that the cases are likely connected. Moreover, it is believed that Hardy was also responsible for up to five or six other area murders that bore marked similarities to the ones for which he was convicted. Yet, there is not enough evidence available that directly implicates him in the murders.
In actuality, there were few women who crossed Hardys path during the peak of his murder spree and lived to tell about it. The only two exceptions that police were aware of were that of Kelly Anne Nicol and Frances Mayhew, 25. The stories they recounted lent some insight into how Hardy may have lured some of his victims to their deaths.
In December 2002, prior to the bodies being found in the garbage bins, Frances received a phone call from Hardy claiming that he had her handbag, which she allegedly lost. He gave her his address and told her that if she wanted it she could come by his flat and collect the bag. Neil Sears said in his December 2003 article in The Daily Mail, that Mayhew felt uncomfortable about going to a strangers house to retrieve her bag and contacted police for advice about what she should do.
Frances was assured that there was no danger in going alone to the mans house but it would be in her best interest if she informed someone of where she was. Still feeling nervous about going to Hardys house by herself, she asked if her landlady would accompany her. It was a decision that probably saved her life.
When they arrived at Hardys residence, Frances landlady waited in the car while she went to fetch her handbag. When Hardy answered the door, his unusual demeanor and the bazaar décor of his house immediately formed a negative impression on her. The Daily Mail quoted Frances, saying that her first impressions were of an unattractive man in an awful tracksuit trousers far too low down his waist. Moreover, she noticed that the walls in his house were decorated with numerous black crosses and odd pictures of human anatomy.
According to BBC News, Hardy tired to entice her in but she refused. In fact, he told Frances that if she didnt come into the house he wouldnt give her the bag. Frightened by Hardys strange behavior, Frances told him to keep it and walked back to her car. Irritated at her refusal to come into the house, Hardy threw her purse at her. BBC News reported that after three days she received letters and Christmas cards from him, which prompted her to call the police.
Shortly thereafter, Frances went away for the holidays. Upon her return she learned of the murders he committed. The article further quoted her saying that had he been at all violent and tried to drag me into the flat or something, the likelihood of me being in small pieces right now is very high.
Kelly Anne Nicol, witness
Kelley Nicol was another potential victim that narrowly escaped Hardys murderous wrath in December 2002. According to Lynn McPhersons November 2003 article in the Sunday Mail, Hardy repeatedly tried to persuade Nicol to come into his flat. However her instinct warned her to not do it. Had Kelly not followed it, she would likely have fallen victim to Hardy. The fact is, no one really knows why Hardy did the things he did. He still has many secrets left to reveal.