It is an extraordinary, but well-documented phenomenontwo people, who seem relatively harmless alone, team up, and the results are terrifyingly explosive. Such unfortunate unions have been behind some of the most shocking news stories of recent years. But what is it that makes couples like Myra Hindley and Ian Brady follow such a twisted path of sociopathic violence? He offers a rare, if uncomfortable, insight into the truth behind the headlines and exposes some of the most cold-blooded killers that the world has ever seen. Included are some well known cases, including the sickening murders committed by Fred and Rose West at their very own house of horror, 25 Cromwell Street. Other cases are more obscure, but equally fascinating, such as the story of Cynthia Coffman and James Gregory Marlow whose relationship led to three brutal murders. Every one of the 22 cases of shared madness is a uniquely revealing study, making this a must-read for anyone with an interest in true crime and criminal psychology.
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About the Author
Christopher Berry-Dee is also the author of Face to Face with Serial Killers, How to Make a Serial Killer, Monsters of Death Row, and Serial Killers: Up Close and Personal.
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The Stories of Couples Who Kill
By Christopher Berry-Dee
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2005 Christopher Berry-Dee
All rights reserved.
KELLY O'DONNELL AND WILLIAM GRIBBLE
The 'Jigsaw Murder'
Five female killers are incarcerated on Pennsylvania's Death Row, although their execution dates have not been set.
Brown-eyed, 1.63-metre-tall Delores Precious Rivers, 42, was convicted of the fatal stabbing in January 1988 of disabled 74-year-old Viola Burt in Burt's home in Frankford. Rivers was an in-home nurse for the ailing lady at the time. She was sentenced to death in March 1989, becoming the state's first condemned woman since the USA reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Beth Ann Markman, aged 49, was sentenced to death for the murder on 30 January 1988 of a 74-year-old man. A Cumberland County jury found William Houseman and Markman guilty of all charges in connection with the death of Leslie Rae White of East Waterford. Markman claimed that Houseman had forced her into committing murder, and then she denied all knowledge, despite the fact that the victim's DNA was found under her fingernails. The jury deliberated for two hours before convicting both defendants of first-degree murder, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse, plus additional counts of conspiracy in connection with each charge.
Donetta Marie Hill, a crack-addicted prostitute from South Philadelphia, was sentenced to death in April 1992 for the 1990 claw-hammer killings of two customers who foolishly tried to short-change her during a drugs deal. The bodies of Nghia Guy Lu, 72, and Nairobe Dupont, 21, were discovered in their homes by relatives. Hill was expected to be executed on 29 March 2004, but received a stay of execution.
Carolyn Ann King, 32, was sentenced in December 1994 for joining in the killing of florist Guy Goodman, at Palmyra, Lebanon County, in September the previous year.
And finally, the star of our show: 29-year-old Kelly O'Donnell, sentenced in July 1993 for her part in the November 1992 bludgeoning and dismemberment of Eleftherios Eleftheriou, the manager of a pizza parlour in West Kensington, Philadelphia.
On the morning of Friday, 13 November 1992 the Philadelphia police received a 911 call reporting that a shocked citizen had found human body parts in a trash dump. When they arrived at the 3900 block of North Delaware Avenue, officers were shown a bloodstained quilt and a left arm next to a trash bag. Inside another nearby trash bag they found a torso with the head missing. And in a smaller bag there was a blood-covered head with the left eye missing. A short distance away the police discovered a right arm inside another bag. Among papers strewn about the site they found a letter addressed to Agnes McClinchey of 3123 Richmond Street, Philadelphia, and this was their first major clue.
It was obvious that the deceased hadn't committed suicide. So, with little else to assist investigators, the human remains were bagged and tagged before being taken away for examination. Homicide detectives now embarked on the arduous job of attempting to solve the mystery of a very unpleasant crime. The dismembered corpse was later identified as Eleftherios Eleftheriou, and the story of how it came to be in so many pieces is a disturbing tale of violence and animal savagery.
What makes it all the more shocking is that one of the macabre butchers was a woman, and Judge Paul Ribner did not bat an eyelid when he sentenced Kelly O'Donnell to death for murder in the first degree.
O'Donnell, a not unattractive 24-year-old with a history of drug addiction, had a 30-year-old green-eyed boyfriend called William Russell Gribble, who also had had his fair share of problems with drugs. As is usually the case with such people, they suffered from a severe shortage of money, and it was this that would be the motive for the crime.
Early in November 1992 the couple went to stay at 3123 Richmond Street. The apartment at which they stayed was the home of Gribble's mother, Agnes McClinchey, who had given them permission to use it while she was away visiting a friend called Ed Paduski. Also residing at the house at the time was James Matthews, an elderly friend of the owner.
Shortly after 10pm on Wednesday, 11 November, Kelly O'Donnell called in at a pizza shop which was managed by a man of obviously Greek origins, Eleftherios Eleftheriou, whom she knew simply as Terry. As well as running the pizza shop, the outwardly respectable Terry did some drug dealing and, as is often the case with dealers, a little money lending, usually to those who wanted to buy drugs from him. On this occasion O'Donnell took with her a leather jacket to offer as collateral against a loan that she sought from this man.
According to a witness, an employee of the pizza parlour, Terry took a large wad of money from his pocket and gave some of this to O'Donnell. The amount of money involved is uncertain. With the loan transaction completed, the two arranged to meet later that night. Around 1am Terry closed the shop, got into his car and drove to the rendezvous, from where O'Donnell took him back to the apartment on Richmond Street, arriving there at about 1.30am. What happened next is drawn from O'Donnell's confession and her evidence given at the trial, much of which conflicts with the testimony of Gribble, who seemed desperate to shoulder most of the blame.
O'Donnell said that Eleftheriou was looking out of a window when she walked up behind him and hit him over the head with a hammer. He fell to the floor and, as he lay at her feet, she continued raining hammer blows on to his skull. The reason O'Donnell gave for this murderous attack was that the man was, in her words, 'a pervert' and had previously sexually assaulted her. Whether there was any truth in this claim has never been substantiated. Nevertheless, whatever the reason for her action, she now had a very serious problem on her hands. In her boyfriend's mother's home a body was lying on the floor, a body which needed to be disposed of; and an undertaker was obviously not an option on this occasion. With no other solution springing to mind, O'Donnell said, she grimly realised that she would have to get rid of the pizza man's remains the hard way. Somehow she managed to drag the body down to the basement, and there, in the anaemic half-light, among a clutter of pipes and cables, she dismembered it.
Now faced with the question of what to do with the bits of body – truly a logistical nightmare – she came up with an answer. Dispersal of the component parts of the deceased was effected by the simple, if irreverent, expedient of placing them in black plastic waste bags. Only at this juncture, O'Donnell claimed, did she enlist the assistance of her partner, Gribble. The two of them, using the dead man's car, dumped the bags on North Delaware Avenue, where they were later discovered. Later that same day they used Eleftheriou's car and his credit card to go on a shopping spree to purchase clothing for Gribble's children.
On 13 November, the day after the murder, Agnes McClinchey returned from her visit and entered her apartment. Her home was not quite as she had left it, however, for she found blood on the front door and carpets. As if that were not enough to contend with, O'Donnell told the bewildered woman that she and Gribble had been involved in a murder. Agnes sat down in her chair and, shaking with shock, said that she had heard a radio report which indicated that a man's head had been found on North Delaware Avenue.
For a short while Agnes wandered confusedly around her home, then she overheard O'Donnell telling Gribble to burn Terry's car. This he did, and when he returned Kelly said to him, 'Thank God you didn't get caught.'
At 7.30pm that day police officers responded to a report of a car on fire on D Street. When the fire was eventually extinguished, they searched the burned-out vehicle and, not entirely to their delight, found the missing bits of the pizza man's dismembered corpse.
An hour or so later, after much deliberation, Agnes McClinchey went to a call box and telephoned the police. Detectives met her at a nearby gas station, where she told them what she knew of the murder that had taken place in her apartment. Following their discussion with the distraught woman, law officers visited her apartment at 1.30am on 14 November, where they arrested Kelly O'Donnell and William Gribble.
With most of the body parts found, and two suspects in custody, crime scene investigators (CSI) now began a search of the apartment and cluttered basement. In the basement they found a kitchen knife, a chisel and a claw hammer, each of which revealed traces of human tissue and blood. They had the murder weapon and the tools that had been used to dismember the victim's body. Strangely, however, O'Donnell's fingerprints were not on any of the items. Finally the CSI stumbled across the two missing pieces of the human jigsaw puzzle that had until recently been Eleftherios Eleftheriou. A cop found, stuffed inside a pipe, a pencil case containing an eyeball and a penis.
Now that they could relax, secure in the knowledge that nobody was going to turn up with more bits and pieces belonging to the corpse, detectives got down to the business of interrogating the two suspects. However, while the arrests had been made pretty quickly, they found that the task of establishing the truth behind the killing proved at first to be as untidy as the distribution of the victim's body parts. O'Donnell and Gribble made statements in which each accepted personal responsibility for the murder while attempting to exculpate the other.
On the face of it, in her attempt to take all the blame, O'Donnell made a confession that seemed convincing enough. However, from an investigator's point of view, Gribble's was the more credible story.
In his sworn confession he stated that he arrived at the apartment at approximately 2am and saw Eleftheriou and O'Donnell on the couch together. James Matthews was fast asleep in bed. 'Eleftheriou was feeling all over her,' he said, 'and I then freaked.' He hit Eleftheriou once with his fist, grabbed a hammer that lay on a television and beat Eleftheriou some 10–15 times with it until he 'knew the man was dead'. Gribble claimed that O'Donnell left the apartment at some point during the attack and then he dragged Eleftheriou's body behind the property, covered him with a piece of plywood and returned to the house to decide what to do next.
A little later Gribble uncovered Eleftheriou's body, dropped it through an access hole into the basement and began to dismember it. While Gribble was carving up the body, O'Donnell said she felt unwell and they both went upstairs where she called for an ambulance that took her to hospital. Gribble said he then returned to the basement and finished dismembering Eleftheriou, including cutting off Eleftheriou's penis. He then bagged the body parts and cleaned the basement. O'Donnell came back from the hospital a few hours later and the couple slept.
According to Gribble's confession, they awoke early on the morning of Thursday, 12 November 1992 and loaded the body into Eleftheriou's car. He alone drove to North Delaware Avenue and threw half of the bags from the car into a trash dump, and then took the remainder of the bags back to the apartment.
In the end, Gribble and O'Donnell were both charged with murder, criminal conspiracy, arson and a variety of offences connected to the demise of Eleftherios Eleftheriou. The two butchers were tried together and both waived their right to trial by jury, electing instead to appear before a bench judge. The medical evidence given at the trial makes very disturbing reading.
An assistant medical examiner testified that there were numerous abrasions on the victim's head and these were consistent with blows from a hammer. This witness also testified that one person, acting alone, could not have killed and dismembered the victim's body in a manner consistent with the physical evidence.
The most horrifying aspect of the murder was revealed when, during this witness's testimony, he stated that red abrasions in the areas where the murdered man's head and right arm had been severed indicated that, at the time these parts were removed, the man's heart had still been beating. Whether or not he could feel the pain at any time is not known. The witness went on to say that one person alone would not have been able to remove both the head and right arm in the estimated 15 minutes that it took before Eleftheriou bled to death. In contrast, yellow abrasions in those areas where the remaining body parts had been severed indicated that the victim's heart had stopped beating by the time they were cut off.
The overwhelming evidence was incontestable. Kelly O'Donnell was found guilty of first-degree murder and for this was sentenced to death on 11 August 1994. Initially she was housed on Death Row at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institute in Muncy, but was later moved to the State Road Penitentiary in Philadelphia. William Russell Gribble was also found guilty and sentenced to death. Nowadays he is on Death Row at SCI-Greene at Waynesburg.
Despite the watertight nature of the case against her, Kelly O'Donnell's story does contain a degree of mystery and some questions remain unanswered, not the least of which concerns her true level of involvement. With both her and Gribble making contradictory statements, the issue was clouded from the start. In his testimony, the medical examiner stated emphatically that one person acting alone could not have carried out both the removal of the body to the basement and the subsequent dismemberment. This implicates both parties at a stage immediately after the murder itself, but it doesn't provide an answer to the question of who performed the killing. In the event, with the court unable to decide between Gribble and O'Donnell, the two were deemed to be involved to an equal degree in a premeditated plan to lure the victim to the apartment to rob and murder him by smashing his skull with a hammer.
There was also compelling evidence of the killing indeed having been premeditated. The motive was more than likely the large roll of cash that the victim was carrying. Testimony from Agnes McClinchey revealed that the tools that had been used as murder and dismemberment weapons were normally kept in the basement and, since the hammer was already in the living room when the attack took place, this supported the prosecution's assertion that it had been placed in the living room in anticipation of the attack on the victim.
The truth of what happened in the Philadelphia apartment building in the early hours of 12 November 1992 may never emerge. There is, however, one certainty: neither Kelly O'Donnell nor William Gribble suffered a miscarriage of justice. They were both as guilty as sin.
Gribble still sits on Death Row and welcomes pen friends. His interests include motorcycles, fishing, boating, all outdoor activities and, like most men, sport. He says, his tongue in his cheek, 'Being on Death Row has limited my laughter, so I'd like to correspond with someone who has a good sense of humour. I'll respond as soon as I receive your letter and I'll try to make you smile.' His address is: William Gribble, CC-7649 Progress Drive, Waynesburg, PA 15370, USA. But, if you are going to drop him a line, you'd better send a letter soon. His execution was scheduled for 28 January 1999 but he received a stay, though for how long, no one knows.
Excerpted from Shared Madness by Christopher Berry-Dee. Copyright © 2005 Christopher Berry-Dee. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1 Kelly O'Donnell and William Gribble: The 'Jigsaw Murder',
2 Marc Dutroux and Michelle Martin: The Devils of the Dungeon,
3 Frederick and Rose West: The Dread Secrets of 25 Cromwell Street,
4 Christine and Lea Papin: The Lambs Who Became Wolves,
5 Debra Brown and Alton Coleman: The Midwest Monsters,
6 Lynda Lyon Block and George Sibley Jr: Husband and Wife on the Run with Guns,
7 Lois Nadean Smith: Mean Nadean,
8 Lawrence Sigmund Bittaker and Ray Lewis Norris: A Strictly Male Folie a Deux,
9 Renuka Kiran Shinde and Seema Mohan Gavit: The Mumbai Child Killings,
10 Christa Gail Pike and Tadaryl Darnell Shipp: The Devil's Daughter,
11 Susan Minter and Michael White: Accomplices,
12 Cynthia Coffman and James Gregory Marlow: Death Row Couple,
13 Karla Faye Tucker and Danny Garrett: The Houston Pickaxe Murders,
19 14 Frank Anderson and Kimberly Lane: A Kid's Crush,
15 Edith Thompson and Freddie Bywaters: A Double Hanging,
16 Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez: The Lonely Hearts Killers,
17 Myra Hindley and Ian Brady: The Moors Murderers,
18 Charlene and Gerald Armond Gallego: A Bit of Rough,
19 Ruth Snyder and Henry Judd Gray: The Best-Laid Plans ...,
20 Reiko Yamaguchi and Kazuo Hokao: One Hundred and Thirty-Five Million Yen,
21 Kenneth Bianchi, Angelo Buono and Veronica Wallace Compton: An In-depth Study of Two Cases of Heterosexual Folie a Deux,
22 Carol Bundy, Jack Murray and Douglas Clark: A Triple Shared Madness,