CAMBRIDGESHIRE, ENGLAND — Over the course of two weeks in March 2013, 31-year-old Joanna Dennehy knifed three men she knew to death in what is best described as “hot blood.”
On the heels of that lethal spree, Dennehy and a pair of male accomplices drove 140 miles away, stopping only so Dennehy could randomly plunge her blood-blackened blade into a pair of guys who were just out walking their dogs. The second set of victims survived, but they sustained permanent injuries.
Immediately upon discovering the first bodies Dennehy left behind, police launched a nationwide manhunt. Authorities were able to track her vehicle using surveillance cameras. When Dennehy stopped at a gas station to buy cigarettes, officers closed in and got her.
Subsequent police station video of Dennehy getting booked reveals her to be laughing and upbeat. At one point, she even jokes:
“It could be worse — I could be big, fat, Black, and ugly.”
When asked by a police psychiatrist what prompted the murder spree, Dennehy replied, “I killed to see how it felt, to see if I was as cold as I thought I was… then it got more-ish.”
Joanna Dennehy grew up in what, by all accounts, was a loving home in the moderately upscale suburb of Harpenden, Hertfordshire. She played multiple sports in grade school but, as a teen, she developed anti-social tendencies. Dennehy’s downward adolescent spiral included drug and alcohol abuse, dramatically cutting her own body, and regularly tussling with the local cops.
At 15, Dennehy hooked up with 20-year-old John Treanor. The couple went on to have two daughters, with whom Treanor eventually fled due to Dennehy’s violent outbursts. He’s since remarried and still has custody of their children.
In time, doctors came to diagnose Dennehy with a number of psychopathic disorders, including paraphilia sadomasochism, wherein the subject derives sexual thrills by inflicting pain and humiliation. That particular malady seemed to play deeply into Dennehy’s eventual spree murders.
Dennehy first struck Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, a Polish immigrant. The pair met online, and Dennehy encouraged him to come see her by sending a series of sexually charged text messages.
When they finally got together, on March 19, Dennehy plunged her knife repeatedly into Slaboszewski’s heart. Afterward, Dennehy tossed his body in a wheelbarrow before dumping it in a ditch. Reportedly, she showed the cadaver to teenage girl passing by and smirked at her.Related: 9 Women Who Would Steal Your Breath … Literally and Figuratively
Ten days later, Dennehy accused John Chapman, her 56-year-old housemate, of spying on her in the bath. She stabbed him to death and photographed his body, then called a friend to belt out the chorus to the Britney Spears hit, “Oops, I Did It Again.” Chapman’s body landed in a ditch, too.
Just a few hours later, Dennehy also murdered Kevin Lee, 48, her landlord and lover. Before disposing of Lee’s body atop her previous victim, she dressed his corpse in a black dress and posed it in a sexual position.
Dreaming of making a “last run” in the manner of famed American outlaws Bonnie and Clyde Dennehy rounded up friends Gary “Stretch” Richards, 48, and Leslie Layton, 36. The two men helped Dennehy cover up evidence of the murders, then hit the road with her. Before departing, though, Dennehy told a witness:
“I’m a killer. I’ve killed three people, Gary helped dispose of them and I want to do some more. I want some fun … I want some fun now!”
Dennehy’s fun, shortly thereafter, involved her wanting to kill nine victims total, beginning with “a man with a dog.” Two men with dogs actually fell prey to Dennehy’s blade: Robin Bereza, 64, and John Rogers, 56.
Upon dognapping Rogers’ whippet following the near-fatal assault, Dennehy told her accomplices of the dog, “It’s me only friend!” The following November, Rogers died of unrelated causes.
Dennehy compounded the shock of her crimes with her behavior while being booked. Cameras captured her laughing and joking.
In addition to blurting out that she’d rather be a killer than “fat” or “Black,” Dennehy also said:
“I had a really hectic week … Attempted murder and murder is nothing. It’s like going down for a Sunday roast, easy … You are a decent copper, I’m a crap criminal. You will read about it in the newspapers shortly. You will think, ‘That’s the girl I arrested—I know her!’”
As officers lead Dennehy to a cell on the video, she breaks into a “chicken walk” and announces, “I’m the Incredible Hulk!”
Joanna Dennehy pleaded guilty to all charges. A judge ordered her to life in prison without the possibility of parole. That sentence made Dennehy only the third woman in England’s history to be ordered to die in jail. The others were serial murderers Myra Hindley and Rosemary West.
Gary “Stretch” Richards got 19 years. Leslie Layton went away for 14 years. Another, less directly involved accomplice, Robert Moore, was sentenced to three years. Such apparently was the price of participating in Joanna Dennehy’s idea of “fun.”
Watch the season premiere of Deadly Women on Investigation Discovery, Friday, September 1 at 10/9c!
Main photo: Joanna Dennehy [Cambridgeshire Police]