While some serial killers like Ted Bundy and Peter Sutcliffe seem utterly charming, others appear a little strange and creepy. Dennis Nilsen was definitely the latter. Not only was he a murderer, he was a necrophiliac. By some miracle, these victims escaped his perverted grasp...

Dennis Nilsen (PA Pics)

Dennis Nilsen (PA Photos)

While the Yorkshire Ripper was on a murderous rampage in West Yorkshire, down in London another equally deranged serial killer was at large – Dennis Nilsen. On a murder spree that lasted between 1978 and 1983, Nilsen was convicted of six counts of murder and two of attempted murder. But he’s suspected to have killed up to 15 people.

Having been both a soldier in the army and a police officer, Nilsen seemed the epitome of an upstanding, law-abiding citizenship. But he was a deeply troubled man. Nilsen was gay, something his family didn’t approve of. But it wasn’t Nilsen’s homosexuality that drove him to kill. It was his darkest, most taboo sexual desire – to have sex with a dead body.

Nilsen had been having fantasies about sex with the dead for many years, and in 1978 his demented dream came true. After meeting 14-year-old Stephen Holmes in a pub, Nilsen invited him back to his home, then strangled and drowned him. After masturbating over Holmes’ dead body, he then hid it underneath the floorboards

Ten months later, Nilsen attempted to strangle Andrew Ho, who he’d lured back to his flat with the promise of sex. Ho managed to escape, but though Nilsen was questioned by police, Ho decided not to press charges. This was a grave error, leaving Nilsen to kill again just two months later. Again he stashed the body, this time of Canadian tourist Kenneth Ockenden, 23, beneath his floorboards. But over the next month, Nilsen kept removing the corpse and seating it in armchair beside him as he watched TV and drank alcohol.

Nilsen went on to murder many more, dismembering and boiling up their body parts on his stove. But four more lucky men managed to escape. Carl Stotter was one of them…

Surviving a maniac…

Carl Stotter (Rex Features)

Carl Stotter (Rex Features)

Nilsen  invited 21-year-old drag artist Carl Stotter back to his flat where they had a drink, sex, then went to bed. But, while Carl was sleeping, Nilsen tried to strangle him with a zip that had detached from the sleeping bag they were huddled beneath.

‘When he attacked me I was jolted awake to find the zip wrapped tightly around my neck,’ Carl told the Sun newspaper in 2010. ‘I presumed I’d become tangled in my sleep but Nilsen was behind me, kneeing me in the back and telling me to keep still. At first I thought he was trying to free me, but of course I was being strangled.

‘The pain was incredible. No air was going into my lungs and all I could feel was the teeth of the zip digging into my neck as he pulled it tighter. I briefly felt blood from the wound trickling over my skin and then I passed out.’

Nilsen then tried to finish the job by drowning Carl in the bath – just like he had with his first victim, but it seems Nilsen had a change of heart. Rather than killing Carl, who by now was unconscious, Nilsen gave Carl the kiss of life. He then took Carl back into his bedroom, wrapped him in blankets in front of a heater and, two days later, Carl regained consciousness. Nilsen then let Carl go, and he went straight to hospital. There he was treated for burst blood vessels in his face, water in his lungs, and cuts to his neck. Two weeks later Carl went to the police, but they didn’t take him seriously.

‘In those less enlightened times the gay aspect meant complaints were swept under the carpet,’ Carl said.

Nilsen killed a further two men before he was finally arrested in February 1983, after Dyno-rod discovered human bones and flesh were blocking the house drains. It seems Carl Stotter had had an extremely lucky escape…