John George Haigh (July 24, 1909 — August 10, 1949), the “Acid Bath Murderer”, was a serial killer in England during the 1940s. He was convicted of the murders of six people, although he claimed to have killed a total of nine, dissolving their bodies in sulphuric acid before forging papers in order to sell their possessions and collect substantial sums of money. He acted under the mistaken belief that police needed a body before they could bring a charge of murder. As a consequence, he was convicted through forensic evidence and executed on August 10, 1949.
After hiring rooms in Glouster Road, London, he bumped into an old wealthy boss William McSwann in the Goat pub in Kensington. McSwann introduced Haigh to his parents, Donald and Amy, who mentioned that they had invested in property. On 6 September, 1944, McSwann disappeared. Haigh later said he hit him over the head after luring him into a basement at 79 Gloucester Road, London SW7. He then put McSwann’s body into a 40-gallon drum and tipped sulphuric acid on to it. Two days later he returned to find the body had become sludge, which he poured down a manhole.
He told McSwann’s parents their son had fled to Scotland to avoid being called up for military service. Haigh then took over McSwann’s and when Don and Amy become curious about why their son had not returned after the war was coming to an end, he murdered them too. On July 2, 1945, he lured them to Gloucester Road and disposed of them.
Detectives soon discovered Haigh’s record of theft and fraud and searched the workshop. Police not only found Haigh’s attaché case containing a dry cleaner’s receipt for Mrs Durand-Deacon’s coat, but also papers referring to the Hendersons and McSwanns. Further investigation of the sludge at the workshop by the pathologist Keith Simpson revealed three human gallstones.
It was reported that Haigh, in the condemned cell at Wandsworth Prison, asked one of his jailers, Jack Morwood, whether it would be possible to have a trial run of his hanging so everything would run smoothly. It is likely his request went no further, or, if it did, the request was denied. Whatever the case, Haigh was led to the gallows by Chief Executioner Albert Pierrepoint on August 10, 1949.
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