According to FBI profilers, most serial killers are male. However, the chronicles of true crime occasionally see a female serial killer that is as brutal, or sometimes even more so, than her male counterparts. Such is the case of Joanna Dennehy, who killed her two roommates and her landlord “just for fun.”
During a 10-day spree in March 2013, Dennehy killed the roommates and her landlord before attempting to butcher two more men she randomly encountered walking their dogs.
Dennehy says she killed because she “liked how it felt.” Over those 10 days in March, Dennehy committed what came to be known as the Peterborough Ditch Murders. After she was arrested for the murders of the first three men, she told authorities that her overall goal was to murder nine men in total. She envisioned her and her accomplice Gary Richards to be like the infamous duo Bonnie and Clyde. Although she attempted to kill two more men, she failed and fell way short of her intended number.
Police arrested Dennehy mere days after they uncovered the first body. But once she was convicted, her story gets even more bizarre after she found love multiple times with other inmates. And even though she will spend the rest of her life in prison, she still attempts to lure men to her.
While FBI profilers say it is far less likely for women than men to be serial killers, the life events that drove Dennehy to be a cold-hearted thrill-killer are not uncommon. Dennehy left home at age 16 when she ran off with her boyfriend, 21-year-old John Treanor. When Dennehy got pregnant in 1999 at 17, she was so furious over never wanting children that she attempted to sabotage her pregnancy. Dennehy began drinking, using drugs, and cutting herself.
Despite those heinous actions, she did give birth and even became pregnant a second time in 2005. Not long after that, Treanor left her, taking the two children with him and away from the toxic environment that she had created for all of them. She was cheating on him, self-harming, and appeared to be a threat to his family.
His instincts proved to be spot on, but even he didn’t know how far Dennehy would go. After he left, she moved to the city of Peterborough, where she met Gary “Stretch” Richards, who was smitten with her, despite her problems.
She also allegedly funded her addictions through sex work, which could have led her to hatred of men. It wasn’t until February of 2012, when Joanna Dennehy was 29, that her problems were brought to light.
Dennehy was arrested for theft and then admitted to a hospital for psychiatric treatment. She was diagnosed with anti-social disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It was just a little over a year after that arrest that Joanna Dennehy began her 10-day killing spree.
Ten Days of Terror – The Peterborough Ditch Murders
Dennehy began her vicious murders with 31-year-old Lukasz Slaboszewski. The two of them had met in Peterborough just days before Dennehy decided to kill him. After drinking together, she took him to another house that her landlord owned and blindfolded him.
He must have thought that the blindfold was the beginning of some kind of sex play, but instead, Joanna Dennehy stabbed him in the heart. She then stored him in a dumpster until she took her next victim.
Ten days after killing Slaboszewski, Joanna Dennehy killed one of her housemates, 56-year-old John Chapman, in the same manner. Then, hours later, she murdered their landlord, 48-year-old Kevin Lee, with whom she was having an affair. Before killing Lee, she convinced him to wear a black sequin dress.
Disposing of the bodies is where her accomplices come in. Gary “Stretch” Richards, 47, and Leslie Layton, 36, helped Dennehy transport and dump the victims in ditches, including putting Lee in a sexually explicit position to humiliate him further.
Later, Dennehy’s accomplices claimed that they didn’t want to help her but gave in to their fear, according to the BBC. Even though Richards was over seven feet tall, he still held onto this story. She must have been quite an imposing figure even though he towered over her by almost two feet.
After dumping the bodies of Dennehy’s first three targets, the trio drove around looking for more victims. On the drive, according to the BBC, Dennehy turned to Richards and said, “I want my fun. I need you to get my fun.”
They came across two men, John Rogers and Robin Bereza, who were walking their dogs. Dennehy stabbed Bereza in the shoulder and chest, and then she stabbed Rogers over 40 times. It was only by quick medical help that these two were able to be saved and later identified Dennehy as their attacker during her trial.
Joanna Dennehy later said that she only targeted men because she was a mother and didn’t want to kill other women, especially not a woman with a child. But killing men, she reasoned, could be good entertainment. Later, she told a psychiatrist that she developed a desire for more killing after Slaboszewski because she “got a taste for it.”
Flight, Arrest, and Life Imprisonment
Two days after Joanna Dennehy murdered Kevin Lee, his family reported him missing. He was discovered in the ditch that Dennehy left him in. Police identified Joanna Dennehy as a person of interest, but when they attempted to question her, she ran along with Richards.
It lasted all of two days before they tracked her down. Her arrest seemed to amuse her more than anything else. While being booked, she laughed, joked, and flirted with the male police officer who processed her, according to The Daily Mail.
While waiting for trial, the police found her diary with an escape plot that involved cutting off a guard’s finger to use his fingerprint to fool the security system. She was placed in solitary confinement for two years until after the court proceedings had concluded.
After pleading guilty to everything, Joanna Dennehy was sentenced to life in prison, and the trial judge ordered that she never be released. He said this was because of her premeditation and lack of a normal range of human emotions.
She was one of only three women in the UK ever to be given such a sentence with no chance of release.
1 thought on “Female Serial Killer Butchers Three “Just for Fun””
Why was Joanna Dennehy not given the death penalty? She will obviously always be danger for the rest of her life, even in prison!!