Heath, Haigh & Christie: The First Great Tabloid Murderers

By Neil Root

The story of the three notorious serial killers caught and executed in the few years after the end of the Second World War precipitated a level of public and press furore never seen before, the precursor to the frenzied news coverage of serial murder we see today.

We live in a twenty-four hour television news and internet culture. Events are on air and online within hours, sometimes minutes or seconds. This is especially true when it comes to cases of murder, the dark fascination and sensational details of these extraordinary actions and sad misfortunes keep viewers and surfers gripped. This appetite has in turn encouraged the tabloid press. Pages and pages are devoted to gruesome stories, sometimes with a level of detail that is truly chilling. Murder has transfixed the popular press for centuries. But it was only in the second half of the twentieth century that murder began saturating front pages and making these monsters what we today recognise as modern celebrities. It was three serial killers, caught and executed in the few years after the end of the Second World War, who precipitated a level of furore never seen before. Neville Heath, a ‘charming’ sadist who killed two women; John George Haigh, the Acid Bath Killer who killed between six and nine men and women; and John Christie, the ineffectual necrophile, who killed between six and eight women. The modern news coverage finds its roots with these three men whom the crime historian Donald Thomas called the ‘Postwar Psychopaths’. Their crimes were the first to generate a tabloid frenzy the like of which is all around us today. It was not only the murderers who captured the public’s imagination. It was the detectives who hunted them down, the judiciary who tried them, and the man who executed them, the legendary hangman Albert Pierrepoint. This book tells the stories of these three infamous serial killers against the backdrop of the tabloid frenzy that surrounded them.

Format & Editions

Trade Paperback


August 15, 2011

Preface Publishing

RRP $34.99

Buy now

Online Retailers


Find your local Bookstore at

Also by Neil Root