Everyone is someone’s child, even serial killers. But how did the relationships between the world’s most notorious serial killers and their mothers turn them into psychopathic murderers? crime + investigation delves deeper with our Murderers & Their Mothers podcasts.
Episode 1 – Daniel Bartlam: The Coronation Street Killer
The case of the Coronation Street Killer – Daniel Bartlam. At just 14 years old Bartlam savagely killed his mother with a claw hammer and then sought to cover his tracks by setting fire to her body and concocting a story that came straight from a soap opera. Daniel’s deep resentment of his mother following his parents’ divorce rapidly led to dark and menacing behaviour- watching violent films and creating scary murder stories with himself as the murderer, and shutting himself away in his room. His mother was desperate to keep the problems behind closed doors but did her love for him seal her fate? MacIntyre and criminologist Dr Elizabeth Yardley piece together the relationship between Daniel and his mother Jacqui to try and discover what turned him into a murderer.
Episode 2 – Fred and Rose West: The Killer Couple
Fred and Rosemary West raped, tortured, murdered and dismembered twelve young women including two of their daughters in one of the most shocking cases of serial killing Britain has ever seen. But why did the Wests embark on their path of depravity? Were they born to kill; or did their mothers make them into monsters? Donal Macintyre reveals that Fred and Rosemary both grew up in families where physical violence and incest were the norm. Fred West’s mother took him to bed when he just thirteen and his father introduced Fred to bestiality and rape. Rosemary West’s seriously depressed mother had electroshock therapy while pregnant with Rose and later allowed her violent husband to have sex with Rose from a young age. How much did these terrible early experiences help turn the Wests into monsters?
Episode 3 – Jed Allen: The Wolverine Killer
The case of Jed Allen, a young man who, on the surface had a happy, stable life, complete with a good job and a close group of friends. Yet in May 2015 he would kill his mother, step-father and six year old half-sister in a brutal knife attack – and then go on to hang himself. But all was not normal- Jed Allen grew up in a broken family trying to support and protect his alcoholic and drug addicted mother and his younger siblings from a young age. MacIntyre and criminologist Dr Elizabeth Yardley explore Jed’s disrupted and dysfunctional childhood years with his mother to discover the trigger that led him to commit family annihilation.
Episode 4 – Harold Shipman: The Angel Of Death
Dr Harold Shipman, was Britain’s most prolific serial killer with at least 215 known victims. Was Shipman simply addicted to murder, playing God by killing many of his elderly female patients with overdoses of morphine or did his upbringing turn him into a mass murderer? His mother was a domineering and controlling mother who worshipped the young Harold and made him believe that he was better than everyone else. When she died a painful death relieved by morphine, did this sow the seeds of Shipman’s murderous career? Join Donal and criminologist Dr Elizabeth Yardley as they examine one of the most disturbing, unique and perplexing criminal cases in British history.
Episode 5 – Dennis Nilsen: The Kindly Killer
One of Britain’s most infamous killers, Dennis Nilsen murdered 15 young men, some as young as 14, in London during the late seventies and early eighties. Nilsen held on to the corpses of his victims for weeks on end, keeping them in pristine condition and talking to them on his return home from work and sleeping beside them. His horrific crimes were only revealed when a plumbing company found human remains in his drains. But what led this seemingly normal civil servant to start killing for company? How big a role did his lonely childhood in an isolated Scottish fishing village play? And how devastating was his cold and religious mother’s inability to feel any love for him or to acknowledge his homosexuality? Join MacIntyre and distinguished criminologist Dr Elizabeth Yardley as they unpick the psychology of one of the country’s most complex killers.
Episode 6 – Joachim Knychala: Frankenstein
Joachim Knychala, the Polish serial killer who earned the ghoulish nickname ‘ Frankenstein’, attacked his victims with an axe, butchering and desecrating their bodies after death. He brutally murdered 5 women and attempted to murder another 7 over 8 grisly years. Knychala grew up in poverty, with a mother who rejected him and often had sex with boyfriends in front of him and a grandmother who meted out violent punishments on a daily basis. MacIntyre and criminologist Dr Elizabeth Yardley explore Knychala’s twisted relationship with his mother and grandmother to discover whether they were the cause of his murderous misogyny and why he was hell bent on becoming Poland’s most notorious serial killer.
Episode 7 – Robert Black: The Lone Killer
Serial child-killer Robert Black worked as a delivery driver, preying on young girls up and down the country. Black, who died in prison, would subject his victims to brutal sexual assaults before dumping their bodies miles from their homes. Black’s own childhood was fraught with violence and abandonment. His biological mother left him shortly after his birth, while his alcoholic foster mother neglected and physically abused him for years before she died when Black was just 11. Abandoned by a mother figure once again, he was cast into the care system where he was sexually abused. MacIntyre and criminologist Dr Elizabeth Yardley piece together Black’s fractured upbringing and explore whether these early psychological traumas were the triggers which transformed Black into the depraved monster he became?
Episode 8 – Leszek Pękalski : The Vampire of Bytowa
One of Poland’s most notorious serial killers, Leszek Pekalski confessed to murdering dozens of people – men, women, and children, who were mostly savagely bludgeoned to death before being raped. He revealed details of crimes and locations that police believed only the killer could have known yet due to problems with evidence collection, Pekalski was finally convicted of just one murder and is due for release in 2017. Pekalski’s mother was a violent alcoholic who drank heavily while pregnant with Pekalski and his twin sister. The children were subjected to extreme physical violence at the hands of their mother and grandmother on a daily basis, neglected and often starved. Later confined in schools for children with physical and learning disabilities he was sexually abused before developing a rampant sexual appetite which eventually led to him raping and murdering his victims. How impactful was his torturous childhood, and how central was a lack of adequate maternal figure in mapping out the murderous future he embarked upon? Join MacIntryre and criminologist Dr Elizabeth Yardley as they investigate one of the most chilling criminal cases in European history.
Episode 9 – Adam Lanza: The Sandy Hook School Shooter
In December 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother before driving to Sandy Hook Elementary School and shooting dead 20 children and six teachers in one of the bloodiest mass shootings in American history. Adam, who suffered severe and deteriorating mental health problems, spent his final months locked in his room playing violent video games and obsessing over mass killings with a cyber community of murder enthusiasts, only interacting with his mother Nancy via email. Many blame Nancy – a gun enthusiast who did nothing to remove her arsenal of weapons from the family home – for refusing to get Adam the help he so badly needed. MacIntyre and distinguished criminologist Dr Elizabeth Yardley examine this tragic case and ask how destructive this mother-son relationship ultimately was?
Episode 10 – Richard Kuklinski: The Iceman Killer
Richard Kuklisnki, known as the ‘Iceman’ for his method of freezing victims to mask the time of death, claimed to have killed up to 100 in a criminal career spanning three decades. Kuklinski worked as a hitman for the mafia whilst at the same time living a normal family existence with a wife and children who were apparently oblivious to his devious double life. Born into a household plagued by violence, Kuklinski, according to his own testimony, was beaten on a daily basis by his Irish mother and alcoholic Polish father. How much of Kuklisnki’s psychopathic personality was passed on by his parents? And how much of his traumatic upbringing was invented by Kuklinski as a way of rationalising his crimes? MacIntyre and criminologist Dr Elizabeth Yardley explore the force of destruction that was Richard Kuklinski.