How a Brave Homeless Man Helped Capture Serial Killer Anthony Hardy
Nicknamed the Camden Ripper, this was a sadistic killer
When you are homeless, one of the challenges you face is where to find food. Many homeless will turn to dumpster diving to find a meal. So imagine the shock for this poor man who went looking through bags of rubbish for food and discovered body parts inside two of the bags.
Being homeless, he could have avoided the authorities and walked on; instead, he contacted the police. His discovery and subsequent bravery alerted London that they had a serial killer amongst them.
Nicknamed the Camden Ripper, Anthony Hardy would have continued to kill had it not been for one homeless man looking for a meal.
The early life of Anthony Hardy
Hardy was born in Burton, Staffordshire, on 31st May 1951. He was said to have had an uneventful childhood with no traumatic events. He went to the Imperial College, London, where he gained an engineering degree. With this qualification, he went on to manage a large company.
Hardy married Judith; together, they had three sons and a daughter, life was good and the couple decided to emigrate to Australia. It was this move that changed Hardy's behaviour completely.
In 1982, Hardy was arrested in Tasmania for trying to drown his wife; the charges later were dropped as Judith did not want to pursue the case. Regardless she divorced him in 1986 and he returned to England.
Hardy was diagnosed with several mental health conditions and placed in several institutions back in the UK. As his illness increased, so did his violent tendencies. During this time, he was also diagnosed with diabetes, which would play a significant part in his capture.
Due to his poor mental health, he lived in several hostels and turned to crime to fund his lifestyle in London. As a result, he was charged with theft and drunk and disorderly.
In 1998, he was arrested and accused of raping a prostitute. The charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence.
Hardy later moved into a flat in Camden, London.
Criminal damage and a body
In January 2002, a woman in the block of flats Hardy lived in had her front door damaged. She was convinced Hardy had been responsible, so she contacted the police. The police went to interview Hardy at home. They found one of the bedroom doors locked and asked Hardy to open it. He stated he didn't have the key.
When the police found the key and opened the door, they found the naked body of a woman on the bed. She had cuts and bruises over her body and was dead. Hardy was arrested for her murder. However, Hardy claimed he had no idea how the body had got into his flat as he was too drunk to remember.
The coroner carried out the autopsy and stated that thirty-eight-year-old prostitute Sally White had died from a heart attack. Hardy was released without charge.
The bodies were discovered on 30th December 2002. Despite them not having any hands or heads, the police could identify one of the victims from the breast implants she had. Soon they had the names of both victims; they were thirty-four-year-old Bridgette Maclennan and Elizabeth Valad, twenty-nine.
When the dismembered bodies were found in the bins, police started looking at what location the person who disposed of them could have come from. One block of flats came into consideration; further investigation provided Anthony Hardy's name from his previous suspicion of murder.
When they went to his flat, they discovered Hardy was nowhere to be found. An initial examination of the property did not uncover any blood evidence to link him to the murders. Still, the police were convinced that the bodies had been cut up with an electric saw seen in the flat.
Forensic scientists decided to use a relatively new procedure, luminal, to see if this would find any blood traces. The flat revealed its secrets; it was now clear that someone had been murdered in the flat. They then collected more forensic evidence to tie Hardy to the murders.
Police decided to exhume the body of White to re-examine this. It became clear that the first autopsy had been wrong; White had been murdered. The coroner responsible for the error never worked again.
Arrest and charge
The police knew that Hardy had murdered three prostitutes. Whilst looking into his background, his diagnosis of diabetes was uncovered. The police knew that Hardy would need insulin for his condition and some point in the future. So they circulated his picture to the hospitals and clinics.
On 2nd January 2003, a phone call from the University College Hospital stated that a man matching Hardy's description was there getting a prescription for insulin. The police were dispatched to arrest him.
Hardy did not come willingly and brutally fought with the police who tried to arrest him. As a result, one policeman was knocked unconscious, whilst another had his eye socket broken. Despite this, he held on until back-up arrived to arrest Hardy.
During his interview, Hardy gave a no comment interview. Despite this, the evidence was overwhelming, and he was convicted of all three murders and given three life sentences. Later, a judge changed this to a whole life order; Hardy would never be released.
The Camden Ripper
The media at the time made much of the fact he killed prostitutes like his idol Jack the Ripper. This earned him the name of the Camden Ripper. Many consider that this gave him a level of infamy that he did not deserve or warrant.
Hardy died in prison of sepsis on 20th November 2020, one week after the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, died. He was suspected in one other murder at the time, that of Zoe Parker; her dismembered body had been found in the Thames. This murder, unfortunately, will remain unsolved as he took his secrets to the grave.
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