Blackouts were a common trend in some cities during World War 2. It helped minimize visibility of enemy aircrafts and helped lower their accuracy. London was no exception and every citizen would do their part to help in the war time effort. Everyone that is save a few unsavory characters. On February 8th, 1942, Evelyn Hamilton found her self in an air raid shelter accompanied by a young army officer during a blackout. She was found dead the next morning. Cause of death was strangulation and her purse has also been stolen.
The very next day, February 9th, 1942, Evelyn Oatley's nude body would be discovered, again after a blackout. She too had been strangled and in an act of overkill her throat had been cut. Her body was also mutilated by a can opener. Authorities still had very little to go on, (the only thing they had was a fingerprint lifted from the can opener.
Again on the following day, February 10th, Margaret Lowe would be found in her apartment. The killer seemed to increase in depravity with each murder, similar to his previous victim she was strangled with a stocking and her body was mutilated afterwards with a variety of sharp instruments. With the killings happening so fast with such little to go on, authorities would have to act quickly or be very lucky in the hopes that they would be able to bring the killer to justice.
For the 4th consecutive night in London, the killer again struck during a blackout. This time the victim was Doris Jouannet, and like the others, she too was strangled and mutilated. Left to be found by her husband in the apartment the two shared with one another. Again it appeared little evidence was left and police had little to go on. They were in dire need of a break in the case so the community can rest a bit more, despite their being an active war going on.
For the first time since the killer started his murder spree, he took a day off. I mean that literally, he took a single day off. On the 13th of the same month Greta Hayward was intended to be the Blackout Killer’s next victim. She was attacked while opening her door by a man dressed in military garb. She noted it was the same man who tried to sweet talk her earlier. While he was attacking her a delivery boy began approaching. Due to this intrusion the attack was disrupted, the boy had startled the attacker and he ran off in a rush. Greta fled the area and was able to survive the attack.
Soon after the previous attack, the same military clad man approached Catherine Mulcahy. Again he attempted to grab and assault her, but Mulcahy was able to fight him off. After realizing how strong she was the killer fled, dropping his belt in the process. Something else he had left behind during his previous encounter with Greta was an Air Force issued gas mask. A serial number was etched into the mask. Authorities quickly put the pieces together and found the mask was checked out by a 28 year-old cadet named Gordon Frederick Cummins. Gordon’s reign of terror lasted just over a week before he was apprehended and found to be in possession of multiple items from his previous victims. His fingerprints also matched the can opener from the earlier crime.
Gordon Cummins went on trial after a few months and was quickly found guilty of all 4 murders. He was sentenced to death and on June 24th, 1942, swift justice was enacted upon Gordon who was hung for his despicable crimes.