A Birmingham crime expert is trying to prove some of the UK’s most notorious serial killers committed far more murders than they were convicted of, in a new TV series.
Former prison governor-turned criminologist Professor David Wilson will appear in the second series of Channel 5’s Killers Behind Bars.
Channel bosses have described him as a “real-life Cracker”, after the hit 90s TV show of the same name featuring Robbie Coltrane as criminal psychologist Fitz, who would uncover the true scale of crimes committed by some of Britain’s worst killers.
The Birmingham City University-based academic is one of the country’s foremost experts on serial killers and his work has led him to meet several murderers.
In the new episodes he will look to apply academic theory to the world of real crime committed by real serial killers.
He hopes to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the serial killers’ known crimes are simply the tip of the iceberg.
Prof Wilson will be looking into the case of Levi Bellfield, who was convicted in 2008 of killing 13-yerar-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler. And he will delve into the background of the self dubbed crossbow cannibal, Stephen Griffiths, who admitting to killing, dismembering and eating parts of three women between 2009 and 2010.
There will also be an examination of Anthony Hardy, the so-called Camden Ripper, who was handed three life sentences in 2003 for murdering three north London prostitutes and he will focus on the psychotic multiple killer and serial rapist Robert Napper who murdered Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common in 1992.
Prof Wilson said: “My hypothesis before starting out on this was that the serial killers we looked at were responsible for far more murders than the ones they have been convicted of, or admitted to.
“The programmes will use criminology theory like victim selection and modus operandi to build up very detailed portraits about the murders we already know about.
“We will then look at cold cases to see if there are any links or similarities to the cases that have still not been solved.
“I have to make it very clear from the start that I am not the police and I am not the Crown Prosecution Service.
“The idea is to use criminal theory to see how far I can take it with cold cases.”
Prof Wilson concedes that the hardest part about making the latest batch of programmes is dealing with the families of victims.
He added: “The real challenge was dealing with family members. It’s a really humbling and very difficult experience.
“It is not something I am usually involved with. But it is very moving and it makes you appreciate that these killers took away people who had loved ones and their own hopes, aspirations and dreams.”
Professor Wilson was also sure that he had investigated the worse serial killer he had ever come across in the new season.
He added: “Napper emerges as the worse serial killer that this country has ever seen.
“He is currently serving an indefinite sentence in Broadmoor, but looking at his modus operandi and going backwards to what he did to his victims was not a pleasant experience at all.
“He attacked women who were strangers and then ‘overkilled them’ by stabbing them multiple times.
“He committed the crimes in front of children and then disappeared and became an unknown.
“And in the murders after Rachel Nickell there was escalation in that he murdered both Samantha Bisset and her four-year-old daughter Jazmine.”
Professor Wilson also has a theory about why serial killers will not admit to all of their crimes even when they are sat behind bars.
He said: “In some cases the knowledge of these extra crimes is the last bit of power that they have.
“It is a control that they can keep hold of and it’s also true that they enjoy the attention.”
Professor Wilson wrote of A History of British Serial Killing, which outlined what made a serial killer and who they were most likely to target.
He was also the co-author of the book Hunting Evil: Inside the Ipswich Serial Murders that charted the killings of five prostitutes in Suffolk, in December 2006.
He previously worked at prisons including Wormwood Scrubs and Woodhill in Milton Keynes where he ran two units for some of the most violent prisoners in the country. Series two of Killers Behind Bars starts on Thursday March 14 on Channel 5 at 9pm.