Gordon Cummins was a murderer in Britain during the Second World War. He is known as the Blackout Ripper. He is much less well known than Jack the Ripper probably because he was easily caught and promptly hanged.
Cummins killed 4 women and attempted to kill 2 others. Cummins also mutilated 3 of his victims after death.
Gordon Cummins was born in 1914. He later claimed he was the illegitimate son of a nobleman. When Cummins joined the RAF, his fellow airmen called him ‘the Duke’ because of his claims. Gordon Cummins married in 1936.
On Saturday 8 February 1942, Aircraftsman Gordon Cummins went for a night out in London. He met 37 year old Evelyn Oatley, a former dancer. She took him back to her flat in Wardour Street. Her body was not found until Monday 10 February. Cummins strangled the woman then cut her throat. Her lower body was also cut open with a tin opener. Fingerprints were found on the tin opener but Gordon Cummins did not have a criminal record, so his prints were not on file.
Meanwhile on Sunday 9 February 1942 Cummins robbed and strangled a woman named Margaret Hamilton in Montague Square.
On Tuesday 11 February, Gordon Cummins killed another woman. The victim was 43 year old Margaret Lowe. Margaret was found in her flat in Gosfield Street. He strangled the unfortunate woman with a silk stocking. Cummins then cut her body. The pathologist Bernard Spilsbury described the mutilation as ‘quite dreadful’.
On 12 February, Gordon Cummins committed another murder. The victim was 32 year old Mrs Doris Jouannet in her flat in Sussex Gardens. Cummins strangled the woman then mutilated her dead body. On Friday 14 February 1942, Gordon Cummins met a woman named Greta Haywood. She was luckier than the other woman. She tried to leave Cummins, but he went after her and attacked her. Cummins tried to strangle the woman in a doorway. (At that time the streets of London were completely dark. There were no street lights and householders covered up their windows to avoid letting any light shine out). However in the darkness, a passerby heard the struggle and went to investigate. Cummins ran off, but he left his gas mask case. (All servicemen carried a gas mask case). On it was a number 525987 enabling the police to trace its owner.
The same night, 14 February, Gordon Cummins met another woman named Catherine Mulcahy and went to her flat. Cummins attacked the woman but fortunately she managed to fight him off. Cummins then left. Gordon Cummins was arrested on 16 February 1942. His fingerprints matched those on the tin opener and items belonging to victims were found in his possession. So on 27 April 1942, Gordon Cummins was tried for the murder of Evelyn Oatley. (It was common practice in England at that time for a person who had murdered several people to be charged with only one murder).
Gordon Cummins was hanged on 25 June 1942 in Wandsworth Prison during an air raid.