Beast of Jersey
The Crimes of Edward Paisnel
Beast of Jersey
The Bailiwick of Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, and has been under British rule since the reign of William the Conqueror. The Island has since remained part of the Crown and has endured a strong British influence and a rich and colourful history, which includes the German occupation during World War II. However, by the 1950’s the Islanders experienced a new terror when women and children were being preyed upon and viciously sexually assaulted by what they described as a masked man who would vanish into the night. The newspapers referred to the unknown assailant as the Beast of Jersey, and from 1957 until 1971 he managed to elude capture and would claim numerous victims before the police were finally able to unmask him.
I think that it is just the time to tell you that you are just wasting your time, as every time I have done wat I always intended to do and remember it will not stop at this, but I will be fair to you and give you a chance. I have never had much out of this life but I intend to get everything I can now… I have always wanted to do the perfect crime. I have done this, but this time let the moon shine very britte in September because this time it must be perfect, not one but two. I am not a maniac by a long shot but I like to play with you people. You will hear from me before September and I will give you all the clues. Just to see if you can catch me.
Yours very sincerely
Wait and See
Under interrogation the man said gave evasive answers to any questions from the officers or he simply refused to answer, telling police to “prove it”. He did not explain his odd clothing, and said he had borrowed the car to avoid anyone recognising him attending the orgy. He said the nails were a defensive measure against anyone who might attack him, but refused to answer questions about the mask and wig. Officers noticed he had numerous adhesive marks on his face, indicating he had worn the mask that very same evening. The man gave his name as Edward John Louis Paisnel, a 46-year-old native Jerseyman who worked as a building contractor who was well known throughout the Island.
He was placed in a cell overnight whilst officers were sent to search his home. When they arrived they found much evidence that supported their suspicions he was the Beast. In his bedroom investigators found a secret room he kept locked which, when opened, they found contained the same musty smell as that of the raincoat. Inside were numerous items, such a camera which hung from a hook beside several photographs of various houses and old clothing, including an old fawn raincoat, a blue tracksuit and homemade wigs, hats and false eyebrows. There was also a large collection of occult paraphernalia, such as books on the occult, black magic rituals and a large curved wooden sword which hung on the wall.
It was learned that Paisnel came from an affluent family and was married with a daughter and two step-children. His wife Joan had previously managed a children’s foster home called La Preference, and they had met when Paisnel worked as a handyman there. The foster children referred to Paisnel as “Uncle Ted”, and he would often give them sweets and gifts, playing dress-up as Santa Claus to distribute presents at Christmas. Edward and Joan married in 1959, two years after he began his sexual assaults, however it was not a happy union and the couple frequently fought until the birth of their only child, and they subsequently lived together as husband and wife in name only.
After the separation, Paisnel made modifications to the family home and built an annex onto the house where the couple had intended to live, which consisted of a large sitting room and office room which Paisnel then used as his own personal accommodation. His wife later recalled that they had a normal sex-life, and believed her husband did not have a very high sex drive. She would later discover that Paisnel kept at-least one mistress. He was described by his friends and family as a kind and considerate man who was good with children. His only brush with the law had been during the German Occupation of the Island when he served a month in prison for stealing food which he intended to distribute to starving families. He was considered very much a carefree spirit and could often be found fishing or going for long walks in the countryside at night, which meant to would often keep mostly irregular hours.
Detectives compiled their evidence and Paisnel was charged with 13 counts, including rape, sodomy and indecent assault against six victims, with all but one being a minor. His trial began in November 1971 and his defence counsel were wise not to enter a plea of insanity, because of the amount of planning involved in the crimes. In an attempt to throw off suspicion from himself he affected an Irish accent and would often leave cigarette packets at the crime scenes. He believed this would lead the investigation away from him because he was a native of Jersey and a non-smoker. Paisnel photographed numerous houses, which demonstrated a certain degree of premeditation, with careful planning some years in advance.
He would target a specific house, learning the routine of the occupants and the layout of the home, knowing exactly where to go so he did not disturb the parents as he made his way to the children’s bedrooms. He kept the photographs as trophies of his crimes and it was revealed he had an obsession with black magic. Paisnel identified with the 15th Century French Lord Gilles de Rais who was found responsible for the serial murders of approximately 140 children who were horribly killed during alleged black magic rituals in an attempt to invoke a demon known as Barron. In-fact Paisnel believed himself to be a descendant of de Rais and would often mention witches covens, curses and the involvement of black magic when asked about his motivations.
Despite these findings, it is believed by some that Edward Paisnel committed many more crimes than those he was suspected and found guilty of committing. There were possibly many more crimes which went unreported to police out of fear that the man in mask would return to carry out his threats. His legacy on the Island is one of fear and terror which is remembered by his victims and the police officers who spent 14 years hunting the Beast of Jersey.