Fears are growing that a serial killer may be on the loose in Manchester after a psychologist suggested murder might explain the high number of men being found dead in the city’s canals. Over the last six years, a total of 61 bodies have been found in the disused Victorian waterways connecting Manchester to other Northern industrial cities.
Professor Craig Jackson, head of psychology at Birmingham City University, said the number of bodies was “alarming” and suggested they might be evidence of a serial killer. The Canal toe paths are popular ‘cottaging’ spots for gay men to solicit anonymous sex, and the practise has become so popular that a whole gay village has built up on the banks of the Rochdale Canal, running along Canal Street.
Members of the gay community regularly vandalise the Canal Street signs painting out the ‘C’ and ‘S’ so they read “Anal Treet” instead. The area became popular because the tow paths of the Canals can are often extremely dark and can be hard to police. This has made the causes of a number of the deaths to be hard to ascertain.
Chris Brahney, from Altrincham, went missing from a Stone Roses concert in Heaton Park in June 2012. He was found dead in Manchester Ship Canal ten days days later. At the inquest, deputy coroner Joanne Kearsley recorded an open verdict and admitted she simply could not say how he had ended up in the water.
An 18-year-old Manchester University student Souvik Pal was asked to leave a New Year’s Eve party in the early hours of 1st January 2013. He was later found dead in the Bridgewater Canal close to Manchester United’s ground. He was captured on CCTV leaving the club with a man who returned alone but was never traced.
Although not all of those found were thought to be gay, Professor Jackson claims it is highly unusual for men to commit suicide by jumping into canals. He says instead they are a popular choice for dumping bodies in cases of murder.
He told the Daily Star: “It is extremely unlikely that such an alarming number of bodies found in the canals is the result of accidents or suicides. Canals are not popular suicide spots, especially for men. They are, however, popular dumping sites. And water can be a sure way to erase DNA evidence.
“Suffolk strangler Steve Wright dumped some of his prostitute victims in water so any traces of him would be washed away.”
If one person were convicted of all 61 deaths ,the perpetrator would be placed 8th most prolific serial killer in history. This would put the killer just short of Abul Djabar, an Afghan who was convicted of killing 65 men and boys by strangling them with turbans while raping them.
The current holder of the 8th place is the Russian “Red Ripper”, Andrei Chikatilo, who was convicted in 1990 for killing 53 women and children. He was executed in 1994, unfortunately another man had already been put to death for his first murder by the time he was caught.
Greater Manchester Police have denied there is a serial killer, saying they investigate every case thoroughly and have ruled out murder.