Dennis Creed

Dennis Creed is a UK serial killer convicted of abducting, raping, torturing and murdering seven young women — with the “trademark” of beheading victims’ corpses before disposing of them. His life is chronicled in the 1985 book The Demon of Paradise Park, which both Strike and Robin study. At the time of Troubled Blood, Creed is imprisoned at Broadmoor mental hospital in Berkshire.

Creed enters the Troubled Blood plot because it’s assumed that Dr. Margot Bamborough was another of his victims, although it’s never been proven. J.K. Rowling mentioned real-life serial killers Jerry Brudos and Russell Williams as inspiration for the character of Creed. Also, Angus Sinclair — Scotland’s so-called worst serial killer — seems similar to Creed. Among the similarities: Both committed their first violent crimes at age 16, both drove a white works van that was used to abduct women, and each took victims with similar names — Anna Kenny (Sinclair) and Vera Kenny (Creed).

Creed was born on 19 November 1937, as the result of the rape of his mother, Agnes Waite, by her stepfather, William Awdry. Awdry threatened to kill the baby as soon as he was born and severely abused the boy as he grew up. Agnes left her stepfather’s house at age 16 — just before Dennis turned 2 — and saw her son only a couple of times thereafter, the last time when he was 5 years old. By 12, Creed was involved in voyeurism, getting satisfaction from the power it gave him. At 16, he was convicted for raping a 15-year-old schoolgirl and sentenced to two years at Feltham Borstal. Five years later, he was arrested for the rape and torture of a 22-year-old shop assistant, for which he served five years in HMP Pentonville. Over the next eight years — between 1968 and 1976 — he kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered seven women and attempted to abduct at least two others. He was finally arrested on 2 February 1976 after being identified by his landlady.

During his most active years, Creed lived in the basement rooms of Violet Cooper’s boarding house in Liverpool Road, near Paradise Park in London’s Islington area. The basement later became known as his “torture chamber.” Cooper and Creed were friendly, and she helped him get a job driving a delivery van for a dry cleaner, which he used to abduct many of his victims.

A classic sociopath, Creed’s “primary sources of enjoyment are inflicting pain and establishing dominance.” According to his doctors, he scores “very highly on the dark triad: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. [And is] devious, sadistic, unrepentant and extremely egotistical.” During the events of Troubled Blood, the 77-year-old is physically described as “a small, obese, bespectacled man … with a triple chin … [and] light gray hair.” Behind his smeared wire-rimmed glasses, his “irises [were] of such pale gray that they faded into the sclera, so that the enormous pupils seemed surrounded by whiteness.” Creepy!