The Northern part of England has seen its fair share of notable serial killers over the years. Most people will remember infamous cases like the Moors Murderers, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, who killed 5 children in and around Manchester between 1963 and 1965. And the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe who was convicted in 1981 of murdering 13 women and attacking seven more between 1975 and 1980.
But at this time there was another serial killer active in the North of England, and he killed more innocent people than the Moors Murderers and the Yorkshire Ripper put together, and he did all of this while still a child.
Peter George DINSDALE was born on the 31st July 1960 in Manchester, North West England. He didn’t have much going for him at birth; he was born to a single mother Doreen Dinsdale who worked as a prostitute. Peter was born with Congenital Spastic Hemiplegia in the right side of his body. This left him with a withered and partially paralysed right arm which he held high up across his body and a limp in his right leg. He would also later be diagnosed with epilepsy.
Within a few weeks of his birth Doreen was back working the streets of Manchester and bringing client’s home to entertain while Peter was shut away and largely ignored. Left to take care of himself as a toddler he would go around the house finishing off the dregs in beer cans. Around a year later Doreen had another baby, this time a little girl. Both children ended up being taken into care by the local authority...
Peter first entered an Orphanage when he was around 3 or 4 years old. It was immediately apparent to the staff there that he had been severely neglected. He was malnourished and small for his age; he had received so little attention that his speech was very delayed and his IQ was tested to be between 68 and 75, in the educationally subnormal range. He was noted to be exceptionally thin, with raggedy unkempt hair and haunted eyes.
The orphanage made several attempts to reunite Peter with his mother but each was unsuccessful. Doreen continued to hide Peter while she brought her clients home and her increasing reliance on alcohol only made things worse. The abandoned Peter was becoming increasingly withdrawn and it became obvious that Doreen was unable to adequately parent her children.
The detrimental effect of abuse and neglect on childhood development is now well studied and understood, but Peter grew up in the 1960’s in local authority care and abuse was not discussed or understood the way it is today.
In addition to this Peter was also coping with his physical disabilities. His developing brain may well have been affected by the lack of proper nutrition, attention and care. Life must have felt very difficult and challenging for the young Peter.
He attended a school for Handicapped children, but didn’t feel like he fit in there. While most of the children returned home to their loving families at the end of the day, Peter would only return to a children’s home where he was reportedly sexually abused by unknown males, possibly the older boys or staff members. In recent years the scandal of the widespread abuse of children in care homes across the UK has been explosive.
In addition to the sexual abuse he was also bullied by the other children for his physical appearance, who unkindly called him “Daft Peter”.
Feeling rejected and shunned by his mother and his classmates, the young Peter became increasingly withdrawn, quiet and secretive. Facing disability, abuse and poverty he must have felt powerless in the face of these insurmountable challenges.
It was around this time that Peter saw his first bonfire and it excited him more than anything else ever had in his short sad life. From this point on Peter became increasingly obsessed with fire.