Scotland’s Serial Killer Dennis Nilsen: The Body Collector

Scotland Serial Killer: Dennis Nilsen

After being born in Scotland in late 1945, Dennis Nilsen found himself surrounded by siblings he was jealous of for getting the attention of his mother and grandparents that Nilsen himself wanted. His father was disinterested at best in forming a nuclear family and Nilsen’s parents divorced. When he began puberty, Nilsen realized he was a homosexual. He was attracted to men who resembled his sister and this led him to attempt to sexually touch his sister in a bid to see if his feelings for men was just his unnatural attraction to his sister coming out in a strange form.  After that he stayed away from pursuing men for the time being, other than once caressing his sleeping brother. His brother awoke and freaked out. From then on the brothers were in constant conflict, with Dennis being mocked in public by his sibling for his sexual leanings.

Nilsen eventually joined the military. There he kept his homosexuality private, even going so far as never showering with other men, lest he get an erection. Nilsen later admitted his solo showering allowed him to masturbate at will as well. His military career would go on for eleven years.

Nilsen took to heavy drinking to try and open up more socially. This led to an incident where Nilsen and another man drank themselves into unconsciousness. When Nilsen awoke, he found himself sexually aroused by his  friend lying still. This gave Nilsen thoughts of being in total control and eventually as time went by the fantasies turned to thoughts of having dominant sex with a submissive or even dead male partner. As a means to experience this Nilsen would pretend to be far more drunk that he really was, in hopes that the men around him would take advantage of him. The fantasy was never fulfilled by a real man, so Nilsen would stare at his own naked body in a mirror as he lay motionless, except for a hand he was masturbating with.

During a visit home, his brother outed Nilsen to his parents, and this caused Nilsen to basically cut his family out of his life. In 1975 a 20-year-old man named David Gallichan met Nilsen outside of a bar. They became fast friends and soon moved in together in a flat with a garden outside of it. Gallichan wasn’t sexually interested in Nilsen, but the pair had sex infrequently as Nilsen played the role of money earner and Gallichan the willing slacker. Eventually this arraignment grew old and they ended up sleeping in separate beds and bringing home others for sex. The pair split for good in May of 1977. This led to Nilsen taking on random sex partners for the next year and a half.

It was during this period that Nilsen began to lure men to his home with promises of booze or a free meal, only to strangle them till they died. During a five-year span, his victim list contained at least twelve people, mostly the homeless or homosexual, and a few straight men he found in bars or other public places. Nilsen would choke the men unconscious, then finish the job by sticking their heads in a bathtub, sink or water bucket until they passed away. At that point he would wash the corpse, dress them back up and keep them as playthings for weeks afterward. Some corpses were kept for as long as eight months. The bodies were sexually molested and used as a tool for masturbation. They were also placed on chairs to watch TV with Nilsen, and brought to the bathroom to bathe with the disturbed man.  The bodies became a problem as they would rot and draw flies over the course of time. When the smell became too great, the bodies were taken to the garden and burned.

Nilsen was nearly caught in October of 1979 when his would be victim, Andrew Ho, escaped during Nilsen’s attempt to strangle him. The police were alerted, but Ho didn’t press charges. In 1982, Nilsen moved to a new apartment in a converted attic, and lost his means to dispose of body parts. This led to a stoppage in his crimes for a while, but the urge was too great to ignore forever, and in May of 1982 another young man was choked unconscious by Nilsen while visiting after a night of drinking. The man had his head shoved underwater and was near death. Nilsen revived this victim and cared for him for two days before dropping him off at a train station.

Other men were not so lucky, and their bodies were used and eventually dissected and spread around the house in hiding spots. After chopping up the bodies, Nilsen attempted to flush the meat and small bones down his toilet. In an incredible twist, Nilsen would write to the local housing agency and complain that his drains were blocked and he and the other tenants were not happy about the inconvenience. This led to a plumber coming in February of 1983. He found the fleshy mush stuck in the drains, along with some bones. The discovery led to the plumber seeking help from his boss and this caused the project to be delayed overnight. Nilsen actually met with the plumbers before they left for the evening and told them the mush appeared to be caused from somebody flushing “Kentucky Fried Chicken” down their commode.

When the plumbers returned the next morning, they found the drain cleared. Some bone and flesh residue remained evident in a pipe that led to Nilsen’s apartment however and the police were called in to investigate. A test confirmed the bones to be from a human. Nilsen would be charged with six murder counts and one attempted murder charge. With survivors testifying against him and victim’s bones linking the dead to Nilsen, he was easily found guilty. A life sentence was handed down to him, with a twenty-five year wait before a parole hearing could be considered. This was eventually amended into a life sentence without parole. Nilsen remains a prisoner to this day.

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Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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