TRANSCRIPT - Fetish Murders: Jerry Brudos And Christopher Farrow
*Warning: explicit sexual content unsuitable for under-18s*
[Music] This podcast contains descriptions of death and violence that some listeners may find upsetting. Hello and welcome to episode four of the Six O’clock Knock I’m Simon Ford and as ever I’m joined by former major crime detective Jacques Morrell and today we are looking at foot fetishes and fingerprints yep that's right you heard it here first foot fetishes and fingerprints now in my copy of the chambers student dictionary from the 1970s which dates me a little bit a fetish is defined only by it being an object that is regarded with irrational reverence a spiritual charm in fact it derives from the Portuguese word for magic did you know that I had no idea hmm well done the chamber student dictionary of course we now associate the word with sexuality and fetish is defined as an abnormal sexual desire linked to a particular object so the early definition related to a talisman then I guess the key words from what you've just said there are irrational and abnormal I know this is speaking from a police angle yeah that's pretty much the size of it now we'll be looking at one particular case in detail and then we're going to refer to a couple of other cases that have a foot or a shoe fetish angle to them now I don't advise anybody to go on the internet looking for this stuff because it can make for a very peculiar browsing history even in the interests of research to start with our main case is a dreadful murder from 1994 but it wasn't solved for six years when a breakthrough came from a fingerprint at the scene and in fact I must declare an interest I was a reporter at the time in West Yorkshire and I covered this case so before we look at it in detail Jacques did you have any interesting cases solved due to fingerprints yourself I remember one in particular from about 1990 and I remember it because I actually got a call from the fingerprint expert he was actually excited about it and he wanted to tell me in person I know it sounds a little bit odd but it was unusual in itself it's worth reminding really I suppose and for the listeners benefit that an automated fingerprint system was not introduced until I think the late 1990s wow late is that a computerized one yeah because that's something it's a mainstay of every detective television program isn't every who done it is the fingerprint so yeah not until the late 1990s hmm yeah the automated system wasn't till then prior I mean prior to that fingerprints were dealt with manually and in a very methodical process there was a series of documents going backwards and forwards in the internal mail first you'd receive a form from the bureau about fingerprints known as marks that related to your case you would then eliminate any people who may innocently have left their fingerprint and then you would consider any potential suspects you would submit to form asking the fingerprint officer to compare the mark with the fingerprints and it was only rare look thinking back that officers would actually visit the fingerprint bureau now I was working on a series of crimes that involved was the issuing of stolen checks it was all very organized and we were under pressure to stop it I was working in a small inner city CID office when the phone rang and it was this fingerprint officer called Bill now he'd run me to tell me that he'd identified fingerprints on some of the stolen checks he invited me over and I remember it now I was fascinated by what he said he'd been processing one of the stolen checks and he recognized a thumbprint on it he had recognized the thumbprint incredibly he knew he'd seen it before and recently and he said there was a distinctive pattern in it now bear in mind that bill and his team spent all day looking at fingerprints not only did he remember he'd seen the mark before he knew it was from a person who'd recently been detained for the first time that is astonishing amazing yeah I mean I should add that each mark is graded as to its evidential value and the best grading is we used to use the term GEFC good enough for court and that means that the fingerprint could convict a person who left it at the scene so I take it that the call from bill in the fingerprint bureau was a good enough for court yes it was uh the call from bill was a very lucky breakthrough it was a series of stolen check frauds and it was part of a racket that was causing us a real headache we were being run ragged by a spate of crimes it involved thefts of handbags and then wholesale fraud where the checks were issued to the maximum possible value oh interesting so what's going on then, Jacques right there was a stretch of road that ran along the side of a small housing estate and in the morning rush hour the traffic ground to a halt that was the time for the local youths to strike and they preyed on women in cars who more importantly were also alone now before these women realized what had happened the passenger door of their car was open and their handbag which had been on the passenger seat was now in the hands of a youth running back into the estate wow right so like a snake lying in weight under a rock and then striking out at its prey and disappearing again I’m over dramatizing that it must have been really traumatic for the victims by the time the radio one jingle had finished on the poor woman's car stereo this youth was back into the estate the whole operation was that quick because by the time these women had got to their place of work and called the police this is obviously pre mobile phones someone was touring the supermarkets in the area writing out checks like they were going out of fashion oh right okay so this would be the equivalent nowadays of taking somebody's card and just making a whole bunch of contactless transactions yes exactly um they were buying all the essentials as you can imagine cigarettes alcohol it was a well-organized operation and yeah we were getting run ragged and we were struggling to stop it now what was unusual in bill's fingerprint discovery was that the suspect he had identified was a man now bear in mind all these checks they all belong to women so they're looking for what a guy wearing a wig or something um makes you wonder really doesn't it um okay what was happening then the suspect was a young man who had recently been arrested and cautioned for a relatively minor offence I think it was a domestic related issue and he was coming from a completely different part of town as well his involvement just didn't fit in with the usual activity that was going off oh right so this uh chat got the dreaded Six O’clock Knock did he did and as soon as we had him in it was clear that he was a little bit out of his depth he also did the right thing he told the truth now he revealed how these crimes were being organized and more importantly by who now this young man's girlfriend had moved into the area where the racket was being organized and she'd been pressured and bullied into getting involved with this cheque fraud the chequebook that she had been given and told to use had one of those unisex names and I think thinking back I think it was Leslie or something like that oh okay or Vivian or something so that the spelling might vary between the genders but actually for somebody in a shot who's just taking a check they're not going to check that closely ah check that closely apologies correct now this young man had done the honourable thing and he got his girlfriend out of the dilemma and he went to commit the frauds himself so we were now ready to give the ringleaders the Six O’clock Knock and it had all started with that brilliant piece of work by our fingerprint expert bill otherwise we would have been struggling that is fascinating and bill recognized this by eye his life was fingerprints yeah incredible nowadays of course police forces can search a computer database to see if fingerprints match those of a known criminal they don't need bill maybe that's the code name they give the computer wouldn't it be great if they did oh no it's called the national automated fingerprints identification system or NAFIS for short and it's able to compare millions of prints from all over the UK and find a match within minutes as you explain Jacques NAFIS was gradually introduced to UK forces between 1997 and 2001 prior to that forces were only able to search their own paper records which related to criminals from their own local area that's exactly right the only other way we would have been able to identify this young man would have been if someone had told us what he'd been up to it's as simple as that then we would have asked the fingerprint bureau to do the comparison otherwise without that it was a needle in a haystack and I guess with the stolen check case there were hundreds of them and producing lots and lots of fingerprints yes you can imagine the work involved the bank would receive them through the clearing system they would retain them as a batch send them to their own fraud department and then they would be sent on to the police the police would then assess the urgency of it before submitting the cheques to a chemical treatment that reveals any fingerprint marks these would be assessed as a batch if the mark was repeated it would suggest that it was the suspects now bear in mind that most of these cheque [_] as we called them were careful not to leave their fingerprints behind so wearing gloves and what have you that kind of thing or handling them with a tissue or something okay well great interesting stuff mate um let's move on to our first case now um our first murder case which is known as the shoe fetish killing and the perpetrator of that the shoe fetish killer now this is an appalling crime that occurred in Wakefield which is in West Yorkshire northern England in March 1994 and it concerns the murder of a woman called Wendy Speakes it is indeed a truly awful crime and I should warn you that if you're of a sensitive disposition you might just want to brace yourself for this there's a useful documentary by CBS Reality that has interviews with Wendy's daughter and the senior detectives you might want to look that up and some of you will know about the Yorkshire Ripper case from the 1970s at the pressure on West Yorkshire CID to detect this one must have been enormous it took years to find the killer and as with most cases this needed a bit of luck in the end that's right I think it's worth adding as well at this point that whilst this case is only what 25 years old I suggest that there's now more ways for the police to get those important names of people to consider those people they need to eliminate from the investigation and we can we can touch on that later okay well as I said earlier I was a reporter involved in covering the early stages of this case I’d moved on before an arrest was made actually I was doing another job at the time but Wendy Speakes was 51 years old and she lived in an end terry's house on the outskirts of Wakefield she'd got two grown-up daughters and they'd moved away from home she lived alone Wendy and worked as a receptionist and she was described by everybody who knew her as pleasant friendly contented one morning Wendy didn't turn up for work now this was unusual for Wendy because she was very reliable so her colleagues tried phoning her at home there was no reply so they phoned her daughter Tracey. Tracey lived in another part of the country but had a close relationship with her mum and was in regular contact with her and Tracey knew something was wrong immediately she asked her cousin who lived nearby to check on the house her cousin found the front door unlocked and this another unusual occurrence Wendy only used to leave the back door open to access the house having stepped inside she called out for Wendy no reply the cousin then saw that all of Wendy's shoes had been taken from the cupboard and strewn over the kitchen floor sensing something was wrong she came away and called the police and it was perhaps a really good job that she did a police officer found Wendy she was at the foot of her bed she was obviously dead knife wounds to her back she was clothed in what she'd worn to work the day before but her underwear had been removed she'd been raped and she'd been stabbed multiple times to the back and to the neck the fact that the first knife wound was enough to render her unconscious was in the fullness of time a small comfort to her daughter knowing that Wendy just knew nothing of the sustained assault that she underwent now West Yorkshire CID had a murder inquiry that from the outset was likely to require lots of resources they had no obvious motive other than sexual even more concerning they had no suspect there was nothing in Wendy's lifestyle that was a concern and the scene suggested she didn't know her killer the scene itself was all I had to go on it needed a systematic examination now in addition to the shoes that were strewn around the house a pair of Wendy's heeled shoes had been placed on her bedside cabinet this was odd and according to her daughter definitely not something Wendy would have done even more odd was that Wendy was wearing a pair of shoes that weren't hers a pair of tatty blue mules Wendy had also been tied up with black stockings that were not hers and the knife used to attack her had not been left at the scene the forensic examination of the scene was painstaking and took place over a couple of days eventually this small terraced house where Wendy had raised her children revealed some crucial evidence and this was found in the area of the front door which opened out onto the pavement and was visible to any passers-by there was a small smear of blood on the door frame also on the inside of the metal lever of the door handle was a fingerprint not a complete fingerprint but a partial mark of even more significance was both the blood and the fingerprint were not Wendy's and nor were they from an innocent visitor to the house the problem was that the police did not have a match and they still did not have that suspect right well within a few days a couple of key witnesses came forward there was a witness who'd been working near to Wendy's house that evening he described seeing a man speaking to a woman on the doorstep of her house and the man was later seen leaving the property the police also traced a woman living in another part of Wakefield now she'd answered a door to a man earlier on in the afternoon of Wendy's murder that man was asking directions he'd been kept on the doorstep and despite asking to use the phone at one point remember mobiles weren't as widespread as they are now the man wasn't allowed to go into the house to use the house phone now the description from both these witnesses was of a white man in his thirties about five foot six tall and balding various press appeals were made but no significant leads came from it the detectives then considered the issue with the shoes there was sufficient evidence to suggest that the killer had a shoe fetish after incapacitating Wendy gagging her and binding her wrists he must have left her on the bed and then gone downstairs and searched through her shoes selecting a pair which he then placed on view of the bed where the rape took place it also put a pair of shoes on her feet shoes that he brought with him and which the police believed were probably brought from a charity shop now there was something about women's shoes that sexually aroused this guy this was highly significant although not a crime in itself this odd fetish was important to the killer but who were these people and how many of them are there in society shoe fetishes in order to try and find out the police placed a surreptitious advert in the local paper it gave a phone number and invited people with a shoe fetish to make contact interestingly some people did although they didn't get to satisfy their fetish as they were promptly invited to the police station in order to eliminate them from the investigation yeah and again the suspect has not yet been identified with investigations of this magnitude you can imagine that there was not one day when there was no police activity to find the killer of Wendy's Speakes despite the best efforts of the police the suspect was still some way off [Music] how would they get the name of the killer who would suggest the right name surely someone must have their suspicions West Yorkshire fingerprint bureau had been tasked with conducting a review every month as I mentioned earlier prior to the introduction of the automated system NAFIS this would have been conducted manually by a fingerprint officer looking at the individual fingerprints taken from people in West Yorkshire the officer would then compare these fingerprints to the mark found on the handle of the door there will be hundreds of sets of fingerprints arriving each month so this process could be say a day's work in itself the fingerprint officer would carefully look at every document under a magnifying glass now these monthly reviews continued even with the introduction of NAFIS and because the crime scene mark was only a partial fingerprint this monthly check needed some human input the fingerprint officer needed to retrieve the crime scene mark and select 10 points or features on it for the computer to compare it to these 10 points are open to human interpretation whilst following the procedures so Jacques is there anything in the report about what part of the hand the mark on the door handle came from no that's not mentioned although the fingerprint officer would have a reasonable idea from interpreting the location of it they would have an idea which hand and which finger it came from I suppose if you imagine a an individual fingerprint as facing a photograph you're comparing it to someone who looks very similar you may select a number of features for comparison the distance from eye to eye nose to mouth earlobe to middle of jaw location of a birthmark that kind of thing just as everyone's face is different so is a fingerprint the different lines on the fingerprints are given terms linked to rivers or contours on a map terms such as delta spur island bridge valley etc it's the combination of these features in different places that make the fingerprint unique now the advantage of NAFIS was that after the manual selection of the features to compare the system would search the records quickly if it identified a possible match then the fingerprint expert would need to check it more thoroughly and this monthly search of NAFIS database continued and after about five years of this vitally important routine the day came when the fingerprint officer selected the 10 features entered them into NAFIS on this occasion the computer suggested a match [Music] the fingerprint record of a man named Christopher Farrow the fingerprint officer made a double check by looking at them again they now had a significant person of interest now Farrow had been arrested in Bradford in 1996 and a quick check on his record gave that all-important corroboration that supported those two witnesses we mentioned earlier Farrow was a white man 33 years of age around five foot six tall and balding just as the witnesses had described the man in Wakefield two years before so just let me check I’ve got this right Jacques both the murder and pharaoh's arrest took place in the same county in West Yorkshire this means that the fingerprint from the murder scene and Farrow's fingerprints were held in the same bureau but because it was a partial fingerprint the checks had to be run manually every month yeah this required an individual process each time selecting certain points or features as you call them I mean we say biometrics now wouldn't we from the mark found on the door handle it still relied on an element of luck almost for it to show up on the search and that search was manual was it that was that was somebody with a magnifying glass Sherlock Holmes style yes you you've got it right Simon and as I understand it Farrow's arrest had an element of good fortune to it as well didn't it yes you could say that uh coupled with some diligent police work now faro had been drinking in a pub in Bradford and he was boasting about the fact that he was drinking and driving now the problem for him on that day was that he happened to be boasting to an off-duty police officer and she wasn't very impressed she managed to alert her colleagues and arrange for a traffic stop of him as he drove away from the pub wow loose lip sync ships and all that so Bradford’s boasting boozer was facing his first visit to a police station then so Jacques can you give us any context with how pharaoh was identified as people are probably appreciating here the problem was that up to then there was nothing to connect pharaoh to the case in any way it needed that vital piece of information that the police would ask the public for it needed someone to suggest the name Christopher Farrow and it took a diligent fingerprint officer to suggest the name the media appeals the description by the witnesses the shoe fetish angle none of this information had prompted someone to call in with their concerns about Christopher Farrow and we can assume that there was little intelligence on this man we can assume that he'd not come to the notice of the murder investigation and it's also a shame that no one reported their concerns about pharaoh's sexual fetish or his unusual behaviour towards women and it reminds us doesn't it that even in a murder investigation of this significance the police don't always get that important phone call yeah indeed we've seen that a few times haven't we but the good news was they had a suspect in custody and after his blood sample was whisked off to the lab they soon had DNA confirmation that it was Farrow's blood that had been smeared on the doorframe of Wendy's Speakes house Bourne Lane in Wakefield yes indeed and it's perhaps worth mentioning the situation with DNA at that time Simon now in the late 1990s DNA had arrived but it was in the early stages of being used pharaoh's blood was taken as an intimate sample in relation to the offense for which he'd been arrested and this was before there was a national database and I think at the time DNA was routinely taken from convicted people in custody the law then gradually changed to allow the police to take DNA from people when they were charged and it was a few years later that the law changed again and DNA was taken on a rest so this period in the late 1990s was essentially a massive leap forward in police investigations wasn't it spot on Simon yeah an automated fingerprint system and then the irrefutable evidence of DNA was an absolute game changer without a shadow of a doubt wow okay so now it's November 2000 over six years after the murder of Wendy Speakes Christopher Farrow pleads guilty to her rape and murder Farrow also admitted the attempted burglary of the other woman's house with intent to rape her less than an hour earlier this is the woman who told him couldn't come in and use the phone Robert Smith QC prosecuting said the footwear like the black shoe on the bedside table was intended to play some specific role for the purposes of sexual arousal as did the stockings Mr Smith added pharaoh liked to look at shoes when he was having sex the prosecutor said that pharaoh had told detectives I just saw her this is when he Speakes get off the bus and I was getting off another bus I’d been thinking how crap my life was my sex life was absolute zero I had a lot of upset and anger towards my girlfriend I decided to do something that day to someone I just wanted someone to suffer the same way as I was feeling the prosecution also included a statement from pharaoh's first wife who revealed that he used to insist that she wore stiletto shoes when she did the garden pharaoh was ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years in prison the judge added that he would recommend pharaoh remain in custody for very very many years despite this Christopher Farrow was allowed a parole board hearing in 2019 at the hearing the panel heard oral evidence from Mr Farrow's offender manager offender supervisor and two psychologists in relation to pharaoh's future risk to the public the summary states the panel listed risk factors associated with Mr Farrow including the premeditated nature of the offences relationship difficulties his lifestyle and associates alcohol misuse a lack of emotional well-being problems with his thinking and behaviour and attitudes the panel noted that there were still areas of the offence which Mr Farrow considered to either misrepresent obfuscate or deny the panel considered the release plan provided by the offender manager was not robust enough to manage Mr Farrow in the community and that he needed to progress through an open prison to help test him for future release and allow him more gradual exposure to being in the community while still having the constraints and supervision of being in prison witnesses were in a common agreement that this was a safe course of action to take the panel was not satisfied that pharaoh was suitable for release but recommended he be transferred to an open prison pharaoh is now being held indeed in an open prison and may be eligible for release again a truly awful case isn't it we go back to our regular theme don't we what causes people like Farrow to rape and kill in these circumstances and then to stop how much was his unhealthy obsession with women's shoes a factor he doesn't appear to have offended again between 94 and his arrest in 2000 but that said surely he had the potential to offend again if released and thinking about it Wendy Speakes was it was pure bad luck that faro targeted her because he just wanted to hurt somebody on that particular day and she really was in the wrong place at the wrong time how absolutely dreadful and also I suppose for everybody else in Wakefield who was walking around and Bradford and I guess Leeds as well all cities in West Yorkshire walking around and in their midst for those six years was the killer of Wendy Speakes undetected until he was finally collared and brought to book so this shoe or foot fetish aspect how prevalent is this in society well you don't have to look far to see many cases over the years these range from serial killers to what gets termed a public nuisance here's a well-recorded case in the united states Jerry Brudos was an American serial killer who committed the murders of at least four women in Oregon between 1968 and 1969 as a child his mother had wanted a girl and subjected him to emotional and physical abuse Brudos developed a fetish for women's shoes from the age of five after playing with stiletto heels at a local junkyard he reportedly attempted to steal the shoes of his first grade teacher he spent his teenage years in and out of psychotherapy and psychiatric hospitals during this time he began to stalk women knocking them down or choking them unconscious and then fleeing with their shoes at the age of 17 he abducted and beat a young woman threatening to stab her if she didn't follow his sexual demands in 1961 Brudos married a 17 year old girl and settled in a Salem suburb he asked his new bride to do housework naked apart from a pair of high heels while he took pictures it was about this time that he began complaining of migraine headaches and blackouts relieving his symptoms with night prowling raids to steal shoes and lacy undergarments Brudos would experience a transgender period where he used the female persona as a form of escape mechanism Brudos kept the shoes underwear and for a time the bodies of his victims in his garage between 1968 and 1969 Brudos bludgeoned and strangled four young women and attempted to attack to others and there's another recent case in Yorkshire again in England less serious but still worrying and disturbing it involved a young man with a foot fetish rather than a shoe fetish Luke Merry who was 25 was jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to two offences of sexual assault of a child under 13 and one of voyeurism now voyeurism is that significant did you know Simon that voyeurism is something that Peter Sutcliffe the Yorkshire Ripper was known for prior to the murders that he went on to commit was it now that is interesting and we all know how his behaviour escalated as I said earlier I spent some considerable time in West Yorkshire and the scars that the Yorkshire ripper case left took many years to heal and in some cases I don't think they will ever heal well in the Luke Merry case it was described how Merry had touched the girls as they watched the film Dumbo with their parents at the cinema one of the girls told her mother that she felt a hairy arm against the back of her calf and feared she was going to be pulled under the seat the second girl jumped onto her chair after feeling a hand against her leg the mother looked under the seat saw a flashing light and a bony hand Merry was found on the floor when the lights were turned on by cinema staff this is terrorism take your kids to the cinema and you've got this guy crawling around under the seats blimey he admitted the offences but claimed he believed that he'd been touching adults Merry told officers he'd been on the floor looking for his earpiece and then became aroused because the earpieces do that to some people don't they at the time of the offenses Merry was the subject of a community order for outraging public decency and he was arrested for committing a sex act while under a computer desk at a college campus in Nottingham the court heard Merry had been assessed by a psychosexual therapist who described him as being truthful about having a foot fetish his defence lawyer said that Merry committed the offence due to his foot fetish and not because he was sexually attracted to children the lawyer said it's not children it's feet that's small comfort isn't it for the kids and their parents you know the problem for me in these cases is that when does an abnormal sexual desire become a danger to the public these people have become addicted to their irrational and abnormal sexual desires a bit like a drug addiction I suppose drugs exaggerate the emotions and senses of an individual and many people use drugs but manage to stay within the parameters of acceptable behaviour it's those that are unable to manage their habit that become a danger to themselves or others how much should these fetishes be accepted and by that acceptance actually supported and encouraged maybe the police only get to see things when they go tragically wrong when a person's behaviour moves on to crime the Wakefield case shows how a person's abnormal sexual urges can lead to murder in the Wakefield case detectives were unable to identify pharaoh as a person of interest why was this so difficult why did no one suggest his name would it be easier now would Farrow be identifiable from other sources of information such as social media well there is a popular website called meetup which allows people to meet up for all kind of social or professional reasons quick check of the website shows that it has over 90 000 people signed up for fetish groups and over 100 actual fetish groups so people are generally quite open about their fetish and do like to meet like-minded individuals and I guess there's nothing illegal about that is there there's also some discussion in the academic world about fetishes in the magazine psychology today an article considered fetishes and here's part of it the discussion in question concern whether or not it is possible to eradicate a fetish most respondents were in agreement that as with a sexual orientation eradicating a sexual fetish is not only impossible but particularly in fetishes that cause no harm can even be unethical the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy also reported on and I quote again my clinical observation is that fetishism usually presents in males and has typically begun by adolescence yet despite this there is limited literature and much misunderstanding one paper declares that a boy was unable to admit his interest in behaviour was unacceptable and shameful I find this phrase shameful in itself says the author they go on it's also worth noting that psychiatrists had the option of defining homosexuality as a mental disorder up until 1986. by this reckoning it will be a long time before sexual fetishes are accepted as lifestyle choices rather than quote unacceptable and shameful close quotes sexual perversions okay we can see from those articles that this area is a minefield in itself even for the psychotherapists fetishes have always been prevalent in human society regardless of the culture and type of society and this is true I’m sure in oppressive regimes as much as in liberal societies but this lifestyle choice it's an interesting term I just hope that in a more open society before people like Christopher Farrow go on to murder that they will be offered some help to control and manage their behaviour I live in hope that these fetish groups will help people to stop their urges from going out of control but as a former police officer and coming from a police perspective I feel it's not so much how we can prevent these crimes but how quickly we can identify those offenders when they occur if the opinion of psychologists is divided we've got a long way to go I would say that if Christopher Farrow had committed this crime today that you wouldn't have had to wait those six years for that Six O’clock Knock that is very reassuring Jacques very reassuring indeed you know going back to the definition you gave at the start Simon the word fetish deriving from the word for magic at a time when people worshipped objects the talisman we've moved on from those days surely haven't we well you'd like to think so but it depends on your talisman doesn't it we hope you enjoyed this episode of the six o'clock lock oh and don't forget to keep in touch by following us on social media we'd love to hear your feedback so until next time from me Simon Ford Jacques morrell and our super producer Paul Bradshaw it's goodbye the Six O’clock Knock is presented by Simon Ford and Jacques 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