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The case of Gordon Frederick Cummins has sometimes been compared to the 19th century murderer "Jack the Ripper", as like in the Ripper case, Cummins mutilated his victims.
Unlike the Army, the RAF discharged Cummins before his execution and so he is not commemorated on any RAF memorial.
Gordon Frederick Cummins
Gordron Frederick Cummins was a 28 year old Leading Aircraftman in the Royal Air Force. He was married to a theatre producer's secretary in 1936, and was known to his fellow RAF friends as 'The Count' because of his pretensions to a noble heritage.
In the course of six days in February 1942, Cummins murdered four women and in the case of three of them the bodies were mutilated after their death.
On the morning of Sunday 9 February 1942, Evelyn Hamilton's body, aged 40, was found in an air raid shelter located in Montagu Place, London W1. She had been strangled, and her handbag containing £80 had been taken. Apart from the strangulation marks, the body had not been mutilated and there were no signs of a sexual assult.
On the following day, Monday 10 February 1942, Evelyn Oatley, aged 35 years and also known as Nita Ward was found naked in her Wardour Street flat. She had been strangled. Following this, her throat had been cut and she had been sexually mutilated with a tin opener. After a post-mortem the police knew that the murderer was left-handed. Also the police found some finger prints on the tin opener.
On the next day, Tuesday 11 February 1942, a prostitute called Mrs Margaret Florence Lowe (also known as Pearl) aged 43 years, was murdered in her flat in Gosfield Street, London W1. She had been strangled with a silk stocking, and her body mutilated with a razor blade and a knife. The experience pathologist, Bernard Spilsbury, after seeing Mrs Lowe's injuries commented that they were " ... quite dreadful ..." and that the murderer was a savage sexual maniac.
On Wednesday 12 February 1942, Mrs Doris Jouannet aged 32 years (also known as Doris Robson) was murdered in a 2-room ground floor flat that she shared with her husband (a hotel manager). She had been strangled with a scarf and her naked body sexually mutilated.
Mrs Greta Hayward was attacked on Friday 14 February 1942, near London's Piccadilly Circus. Her attacker had been interrupted by the arrival of a delivery boy making his rounds. Hayward escaped her attacker, who then ran off. However, he left his service gas mask behind at the scene. The gas mask container had the number 525987 marked on the side.
Before the number was traced, the police received news of another attack. A prostitute called Mrs. Mulcahy, who was also known as Kathleen King, was attacked in her flat located near London's Paddington Rail Station. She managed to fight off her attacker, who gave her an extra £5 before fleeing the scene.
The police traced the service number found on the gas mask case, and on 16 February 1942, they arrested Gordon Cummins. When they searched his quarters, they found various items which belonged to his victims. Also his finger prints matched those on the tin opener used to mutilate his 2nd victim, and on various objects associated with his victims.
On 27 April 1942, the trial of Gordon Cummins for the murder of Evelyn Oatley began at London's Old Bailey court. The trial judge was Mr Justice Asquith, the Prosecution case was presented by Mr G.B. McClure and Cummins was defended by Mr J. Flowers. The evidence against Cummins was conclusive, and following a 1-day trial the jury took just 35 minutes to find Cummins guilty of the murder of Evelyn Oatley. He was sentenced to death by hanging.
On 25 June 1942, Cummins was executed at London's Wandsworth Prison, while an air raid was occurring.