• Graveyard Shift

12 Facts About The Strange Life Of 'The Kindly Killer' Dennis Nilsen

Dennis Nilsen is one of the more well-known serial killers to emerge from the UK in the late 1970s and early '80s. Dubbed the Muswell Hill Murderer by the British press, Nilsen amassed over a dozen kills, his victims often homeless young men and prostitutes - easy prey for a seemingly benevolent stranger. 

Nilsen's predilection for necrophilia - coupled with his habit of keeping corpses around for weeks on end - has drawn comparisons to Jeffrey Dahmer, one of America's more deranged murderers. While Nilsen did not quite share the Milwaukee cannibal's culinary palette, he certainly engaged in enough strange corpse play to put him in that same unique echelon of killers. He was also the inspiration for the movie Cold Light of Day.

The following list explores some of the most bizarre and gruesome facts about a man sometimes called "The Kindly Killer"; the deadly dossier of a charming English stranger who just happened to keep a heap of dead bodies back at his flat.

  • He Had A Strong Penchant For Necrophilia

    Photo: Guildford Ghost / via YouTube

    After the murder was over and the body was cleaned, Nilsen would carry his departed guest to his room, where he would take several photos of the body before engaging in depraved sexual activity. 

    Treating his corpses as dolls - dressing them, talking to them, posing them - Nilsen had the ultimate submissive partner. As such, he had a hard time letting go of his dead friends, sometimes keeping them around for weeks. 

  • He Slept With The Corpses Of His Victims, Literally

    Photo: OnrsOnrsvn708 / via YouTube

    Say what you want about him being a brutal murderer, Dennis Nilsen was not the "love 'em and leave 'em" type. Though he indeed had a serious passion for necrophilia, it was not just the sexual gratification aspect he enjoyed about keeping a corpse in his bed - he also simply enjoyed the company. 

    Not only did Dennis Nilsen sleep next to the dead bodies of his victims, he watched TV with them, ate dinner in their company, and even let loose and got drunk with them.

    Bizarrely (for a serial killer anyway), the dead bodies of the men he killed also evoked a sense of remorse from Nilsen, who after his arrest remarked that when he looked at them he wished nothing more than for them to be alive again.

  • He Hid Corpses And Body Parts Around His Home

    Photo: Spicygreenginger / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Dennis Nilsen's innate separation anxiety meant that he had a difficult time parting with the dead bodies he'd grown so fond of. Not wanting potential new victims to be put off by a rotting corpse sitting on his sofa, Nilsen would often hide dead bodies under his floor boards or beneath his kitchen sink. 

    Being sent to storage, however, did not mean that Nilsen had tired of his fleshy prizes. In the case of one of his victims, a Canadian man named Kenneth Ockenden (whom Dennis would later describe as his "favorite"), his dead body was brought out from under the floorboards four times before finally being disposed of. You can imagine the romantic evenings they likely shared.

  • He Kept Corpses Around Until Air Freshener Was No Longer Cutting It

    Photo: Cold Light of Day, Creative Artist Pictures (UK)

    By the time Dennis Nilsen had acquired six corpses, his modest apartment was becoming cramped for space - bodies were literally bursting out of the floorboards and cabinets. Beyond that, flies were hatching from the decomposing human flesh and becoming a real nuisance, and that's to say nothing about what must have been an unthinkable odor. Nilsen claims that at this point he was dousing his apartment with air freshener twice a day, but while that may have been good enough for him, his neighbors began to complain.

    Pacifying nearby residents with explanations that the odor must be a structural defect, Nilsen began to devise ways to evict his pungent roommates.