Levi Bellfield is one of the most dangerous serial killers to have ever stalked Britain. No one knows when he began hating women, particularly blonde women. Or when he started preying at them: stalking lone females, tracking them down, sexual abusing and slaughtering them. But as time went by, Bellfield’s hatred intensified, and his killing escalated. His reign of terror finally ended with his arrest in November 2004, but he’d left a trail of victims behind him, including a tragic mystery that would take nearly 10 years to solve.
Who was Levi Bellfield?
Levi Bellfield was born in Isleworth, south west London, in May 1968. He had a gypsy background, saw himself as a Jack the Lad type, and often had a string of lovers. Yet he could be violent and controlling toward his partners, and was said to have an unhealthy interest in sex. By the time he was arrested it is thought he had at least 11 children from five women.
Still, Bellfield, a 6ft 1in, 20-stone former bodybuilder and bouncer, would seek out younger and younger women. The wheel-clamper would drive around in a succession of old cars or vans, often adapted with blacked out windows, chatting to girls at bus stops. He’d seek out vulnerable women, tempt them into the back seat with drink or drugs. According to DCI Colin Sutton, who led the police investigation, Bellfield had a ‘massive ego to feed’. ‘He thinks he’s God’s gift to everyone,’ he added.
So when a girl turned down Levi Bellfield, or slighted him in some way, he exploded with violence. Eventually, his hatred turned him into a murderer. He’d stalk lone, blonde women late at night, often on buses, wait for them to disembark, park up his vehicle, and chase them down. He’d then whack them over the back of the head with a hammer or bat – whatever he had to hand – leaving them dead, or dying.
One of those girls was Marsha McDonnell, 19. In February 2003, she was bludgeoned over the head with a blunt instrument in Hampton, London, moments after she got off a night bus. She died two days later.
Then, in May 2004, Kate Sheedy, then 18, was mowed down crossing the road, after getting off night bus in Isleworth. The driver then reversed back over her. She miraculously survived.
But it was only when Amélie Delagrange, 22, was murdered, in August 2004, the cases were linked. Amélie, a French student visiting the UK, had been hit over the head with a blunt object as she crossed Twickenham Green, after taking the bus home. She was found in a pool of blood.
Detectives finally tracked Bellfield down after his van was spotted on CCTV footage from a bus that drove by the spot in Twickenham where Amélie Delagrange was found. He was arrested in November 2004, but police didn’t have enough evidence to charge him until March 2006. In February 2008, after a four-month trial at the Old Bailey, Levi Bellfield was convicted of two counts of murder and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy. He was jailed for life, and the judge recommended he never be released.
A mystery solved?
After the trial, it emerged police suspected Bellfield had also murdered schoolgirl Amanda Dowler, known as Milly. Milly had gone missing as she walked home from Walton-on-Thames train station in March 2002. Her remains were found six months later, 25 miles away in Yately Heath Woods. Despite a massive murder hunt, her killer wasn’t found, and the abduction and killing of Milly Dowler became one of the UK’s most high profile unsolved murders. But, as Bellfield was held on murder charges, detectives began to find links to Milly’s disappearance.
At the time Bellfield had been staying at his girlfriend’s flat in Walton-on-Thames – just 70 yards away from where Milly vanished. A red Daewoo Nexia had been captured in the area on CCTV the day Milly was snatched – Bellfield’s girlfriend had one, which he would use. And that night, when his girlfriend returned to the flat, the car was gone, and Bellfield claimed it had been ‘stolen’ from a pub car park. He’d also burned the bedsheets, claiming the dog fouled them.
In March 2010, Bellfield was charged with Milly’s murder. He was convicted and handed another whole life term in June 2011.
But it wasn’t until May 2015 Bellfield admitted killing Milly, giving police harrowing details of how he repeatedly raped, tortured, and strangled the schoolgirl. Her parents bravely decided to release details so the public would know his ‘true heinousness’.
The Milly Dowler case was also at the centre of the phone hacking scandal when it emerged an investigator working for the now defunct News of the World hacked into voicemails on Milly’s mobile phone.