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John George Haigh


Acid Bath Murderer


24 July 1909
Kill Total: 15 +

Kill date:

1944 - 1949

Kill Place:

Chelsea & Crrawley










Lewes Assizes


Mr Justice Travers Humphreys


Sir Hartley Shawcross KC


Sir David Maxwell Fyfe KC




Haigh meticulously planned each of his murders, with all three stages carefully thought out to prevent untidy, or messy finishes to his gruesome activities.

The first stage was to isolate the victim from any familiarity around them (escorting them to his "workshop", which was nothing more than an adjacent room next to a factory). In all of the cases, his victims were always led under a pretence of discovery, which was based upon his initial friendship established with each of them. Put simply, they had absolutely no reason to suspect Haigh of performing anything unusual, until it was too late.

Stage two was to render his target incapable of responding to his attack, via the use of a .38 Webley revolver. He concealed the gun upon his person once he had coaxed his intended target inside his workshop. Then Haigh would seize any opportunity to kill the victim with as little effort as possible.

Thirdly, was the disposal of the body using vats of industrial acid.

It was Haigh's mistaken belief that a corpse could be completely disposed of via the acid. Unfortunately for Haigh, certain parts of the human body are more resilient than most people think, either by their very nature (such as teeth and bone) and artificial items (such as false teeth) and are usually picked up as trace evidence by forensic experts. Haigh's false assumption that murder could not be proved without the body led to his downfall.


Though the murders were very important to Haigh, he also  needed to sustain himself financially, and would strip the body of any valuables that he could use himself, like jewellery, and ration cards which he later used for himself. These would later be found at his home, which provided further evidence against him.


Suspected of killing up to 15 people, he was eventually charged with just six murders.


9th September 1944 William McSwan, Gloucester Road, Chelsea
1945 Donald and Amy McSwan  Gloucester Road
February 1948 Dr Archibald Henderson, and his wife Rosalie, in Crawley
18th February 1949 Mrs Olive Durand-Deacon, in Crawley


2nd March, 1949 Haigh was charged with the murder of Mrs Durand-Deacon and was moved to Lewes Prison.


18th July 1949, His trial began at Lewes Assizes.

Haigh pleaded guilty due to insanity. The Judge ordered the jury not to accept the plea as Haigh had acted with 'Malice Aforethought'.

Trial finished the following afternoon. It took the jury seventeen minutes to find him guilty.

The judge sentenced Haigh to death.


10th August 1949, Haigh was hanged by Albert Pierrepoint at Wandsworth prison.



John George Haigh



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