Serial Killer: Joanna Dennehy

Joanna Dennehy, 31, was a spree killer in the UK in 2013. She confessed to the murders of 3 men and the attempted murders of 2 additional men who survived her vicious attacks.

Joanna Dennehy

Joanna Christine Dennehy born 1982 in St. Albans in Hertfordshire, UK. She was one of 2 daughters born to Kathleen, who worked as a shop manager at a market, and Kelvin, who worked as a security guard. Joanna was an exceptionally bright schoolgirl. Her parents were loving and nurturing. Her childhood was idyllic. She was described as a loving and sensitive child.

The Downward Spiral of Joanna Dennehy

At 15 years old, Dennehy began dating John Treanor, 20, and her entire persona changed. She started skipping school and experimenting with drugs and alcohol and began hanging out with people who had those same interests. She ran away with Treanor and settled in Cambridgeshire, UK. Dennehy self-harmed and was known to always carry a knife in her boot. It was also during this time, Dennehy got a small tattoo of a black star on her right cheek.

Once she reached adulthood, many people described her as an extremely beautiful woman. 

Dennehy and Treanor had 2 children, while living in Cambridgeshire. In 2009, Treanor took the children and abruptly left Dennehy due to her outrageously dangerous behavior. She had already been in and out of jail for theft and illegal narcotics charges. In February 2012, Dennehy was arrested again for theft. The courts mandated her to a receive a mental health evaluation due to her angry and violent behavior. They diagnosed her with antisocial personality disorder and psychopathic personality disorder. They set up a treatment program, which she would only end up following for a brief time. Professionals would later explain that while she had both disorders, neither would cause her to behave in how she did. They stated Dennehy knew exactly what she was doing and simply didn’t care. She felt no remorse for her actions or behavior.

The Killing Spree Begins

By 2013, Dennehy was living alone in a rented room in a private residential building in Peterborough, UK. With no idea of her past, neighbors initially described her as friendly yet distant. One resident, John Chapman, was an older disabled veteran of the Falklands War. He did not share that same opinion. He had stated to several neighbors that Dennehy was cold towards him and gave him a very uneasy feeling.   

The apartment building owner Kevin Lee, 48, gave her a job collecting rent. Lee also used Dennehy when he needed to evict people because of her intimidating nature. Lee was a husband and father but became infatuated with Dennehy. They began a romantic affair. In exchange, Dennehy lived rent free in two different apartment buildings that Lee owned.

Lucasz Slaboszewski

 Lucasz Slaboszewski, 31, had moved from Poland to the UK in 2005. He had met Dennehy, and the two had become friends, although Salboszewski had hoped that they could become romantic. On Mar 19, 2013, Dennehy texted Lucasz and invited him over to her house at 11 Rollinston Guard, a neighborhood in Peterborough. The two began drinking and at one point, she talked Lucasz into letting her blindfold him. Once he was blindfolded, she grabbed a knife that she had hidden and stabbed him one time in the chest, piercing his heart and killing him instantly. Although she was petite, she managed to put him in a trash can and then showed his deceased body to a 14 year old neighborhood girl. With fear of discovery, Dennehy called her friend Gary Stretch, 47, to assist in disposing of Lucasz’s body. In prior months, Stretch, who was a large man at 7’2″, had become her unofficial “bodyguard”. Stretch was another man who had become infatuated with Dennehy. Gary Stretch, with the assistance of a friend of his, Leslie Layton, dumped Lucasz’s body in a ditch in rural Thorney Dyke, 10 east of Peterborough City Center.

John Chapman

One week later, resident John Chapman accidentally walked in on Dennehy while she was bathing in one of the unlocked shared floor bathrooms, which lead to an argument. Chapman told other residents of the encounter and argument. Once again, he explained he was afraid of Dennehy because of her aggressive bullying nature.

On Mar 29, 2013, Dennehy attacked John while he was (drunkenly) passed out in his room. She stabbed him one time in the neck, severing his carotid artery. She then stabbed him five additional times in the chest with one wound breaking his breast bone. Two stab wounds punctured his heart. As she had done with Lucasz. Dennehy called Stretch and Layton to help her dispose of Chapman’s body. The men placed him in the same ditch as they had Slaboszewski, just a week prior. A photo of John’s remains was found on Layton’s phone; it was time stamped 7:32 a.m.

Kevin Lee

Hours after Dennehy killed Chapman, she was looking for another victim. She called her lover Kevin Lee to come over to her apartment. After enjoying time drinking alcohol and having sex, she surprised Lee by attacking him. She stabbed him repeatedly in the chest, striking both his lungs and heart. Later medical reports suggest that Lee also had defensive wounds but died very quickly. Using Lee’s car, Dennehy, Stretch and Layton drove Lee’s body to a rural area of Newborough, seven miles from the Thorney Dyke location where her two previous victims were dumped. Before they left the site, Dennehy dressed Lee in a black sequin dress and positioned his body on his stomach with his buttocks lifted up. They drove Lee’s car to another rural area of Yaxley and set it on fire. The body of Kevin Lee was found the next day by an unnamed person who had been out for a walk. Investigators began a murder investigation immediately. 

Kevin Lee

Attempted Murders

After dumping Lee’s body, Dennehy and Stretch drove to the city of Norfolk, UK. On April 2, 2013, they committed a robbery. Stretch called an old friend of his, Mark Lloyd, to help sell the stolen items. While in the car, on the way to a sale location, Lloyd listened to Dennehy confess to the three murders and how she was looking to commit more. Lloyd later testified that Dennehy had stated, “I’m a killer. I want my fun. I want to have my fun. I want to do nine.”

While driving in a Norfolk residential neighborhood, the trio encountered Robin Bereza, a 64-year-old fireman who was walking down the sidewalk. Dennehy jumped out of the car and stabbed Bereza one time in the shoulder. He would survive the random attack. Approximately ten minutes later, the trio encountered John Rogers, 56, who had been walking his dog. Dennehy stabbed Rogers over thirty times, leaving him on the sidewalk, and took his dog, stating that she wanted to “take it for a walk.” He sustained wounds to his chest, stomach, and back. Both lungs were collapsed, and his bowel was perforated and exposed. He also had defense wounds on his hands and arms, which caused irreparable nerve damage. Rogers would survive the attack.

Later that same day, Dennehy, Stretch and passenger, Lloyd, were caught due to descriptions given by the victims. After a short pursuit, they were taken into custody. Police stated they were shocked at Dennehy’s jovial behavior, which included her joking with officers and singing the song, Singing In The Rain.

The following day, April 3, 2013, the bodies of Lucasz Slaboszewski and John Chapman were discovered. Three murder victims in such a rural area prompted investigators to look for a connection between the victims.

Legal Proceedings Begin

On May 8, 2013, Joanna Dennehy was charged with the attempted murders of John Rogers and Robin Bereza. The distinguishable star tattoo on her cheek made her easily identifiable and she was linked to Kevin Lee, and was charged with his murder. Through further investigation, Dennehy was also linked to Lucasz Slaboszewski; text messages were found on her cell phone that pertained to the murder. Dennehy was linked to John Chapman because they were neighbors and Chapman had told other residents that he was afraid of her. 

On November 18, 2013, during her pre-trial hearing, Dennehy pled guilty to all the charges against her while laughing the entire time. She was quoted in court as saying, “I have pleaded guilty and that’s that”. During her sentencing at the Old Bailey, Justice Spencer stated, “Although you pleaded guilty, you’ve made it quite clear you have no remorse. You are a cruel, calculating, selfish and manipulative serial killer.”

During his court proceedings, Gary Stretch said that he did not know that she was actually going to murder anyone and that he suffered her manipulation. He received a life sentence for his involvement in the crimes. Leslie Layton was sentenced to 14 years to assist Stretch and Dennehy in disposing of Slaboszewski and Chapman. Mark Lloyd, who had been a passenger in the car, testified against Dennehy. No charges were ever filed against him.

On February 28, 2014, Joanna Dennehy was given a whole life order, which in the UK means she will never be released. In the history of the UK justice system, Dennehy was the third woman to ever receive a whole life order. Myra Hindley and Rosemary West are the only other two women to receive a whole life order. Dennehy was sent to Bronzefield prison in Surrey, UK.

The Aftermath

In August 2018, Dennehy attempted suicide by slitting her own throat in a suicide pact made with a prison fiancé, Hayley Palmer. Palmer, who was serving a 16-year sentence for robbery, had reportedly slit her wrists. Guards found the pair lying on a prison cell floor surrounded by blood. The women were rushed to the prison hospital, where they were treated and survived. Following this incident, prison officials kept the women apart due to safety concerns. Once Dennehy had recovered enough from her injuries, she was returned to her cell where she attempted suicide again. That attempt also failed.  

In 2019, Dennehy was moved to HM Low Newton, a female maximum-security prison located in Brasside, England. She remains there and continues to plan to marry Hayley Palmer, who has since been released, having satisfied her own robbery sentence.

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