August 10, 1949
Wandsworth, London, England
Serial killer and “Acid Bath Murderer” John George Haigh is executed
Haigh had been a career criminal, specializing in fraud. After many stints in prison for fraud, Haigh determined the reason he was caught often was because he left his victims alive. While serving time, he experimented with dissolving the bodies of mice in sulfuric acid, an idea he reportedly got from French murderer Georges-Alexandre Sarret.
Between September 9, 1944 and February 18, 1949, Haigh murdered at least six people, though he claimed to have killed nine. He mistakenly believed the term corpus delicti (literally: body of the crime) meant he could not be charged with murder without the presence of a body and so dissolved his victims in tubs of sulfuric acid, dumping the resulting slurry down drains or behind his property. In actuality, the term means a crime needs to be proven to have happened with sufficient evidence. As investigators searched for leads on the disappearance Haigh’s final victim, 69-year-old Olive Durand-Deacon, they found evidence linking Haigh to Durand-Deacon as well as other missing persons. Haigh later confessed the victims were murdered for their money.
To try to escape the noose, Haigh pleaded insanity, claiming to have ingested the blood of his victims and testified he had been plagued by dreams involving blood since childhood. The jury took only 15 minutes to convict Haigh. He was hanged just shy of six months after his last murder.