What motivated John George Haigh to murder at least six people, then dissolve their corpses in concentrated sulphuric acid? How did this intelligent, well-educated man from a loving, strongly religious family of Plymouth Brethren become a fraudster, a thief, then a serial killer? In the latest of his best-selling studies of criminal history, Jonathan Oates reinvestigates this sensational case of the late 1940s. He delves into Haigh's Yorkshire background, his reputation as a loner, a bully and a forger during his years at Wakefield Grammar School, and his growing appetite for the good life which his modest employment in insurance and advertising could not sustain. Then came his move to London and a rapid, apparently remorseless descent into the depths of crime, from deceit and theft to cold-blooded killing. As he follows the course of Haigh's crimes in graphic, forensic detail, Jonathan Oates gives a fascinating inside view of Haigh's attempt to carry through a series of perfect murders. For Haigh intended not only cut off his victims' lives but, by destroying their bodies with acid, literally to remove all traces that they had ever existed.
Dr Jonathan Oates is the Ealing Borough Archivist and Local History Librarian, and he has written and lectured on aspects of London's local history and criminal past, in particular on the Christie case. His books include several volumes in the Foul Deeds series and a trilogy on unsolved London murders. He is also an authority on the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745 and published Sweet William or The Butcher? The Duke of Cumberland and the '45. His most recent books are Tracing Your London Ancestors, Tracing Your Ancestors From 1066 to 1837 and John Christie of Rillington Place: Biography of a Serial Killer.