Authorities say David Fuller, 67, took photos of himself sexually abusing the bodies of nearly a hundred patients over a 12-year period at several U.K.-based hospitals. He recently pleaded guilty in court to murdering two women, Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, in 1987.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has ordered an investigation into Fuller’s crimes and is calling on hospitals to increase security in morgues. The investigation will be led by Sir Jonathan Michael, a former doctor and hospital chief executive.
Javid referred to Fuller’s crimes as “horrific” during a recent press conference. He said detectives have so far identified 78 out of some 99 victims.
“My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims of these horrific acts, as well as all those working in the NHS Trust and wider health service who, like me, will be profoundly shaken by the unspeakable nature of these offences,” said Javid. “We in government are working closely with the local police force and trust to ensure the families affected get the comprehensive support they need at this time.”
The authorities say Fuller gained access to the hospital mortuaries using his role as an electrician in the National Health Service.
While on trial for murder, Fuller admitted to sexually abusing and killing the two women after previously pleading not guilty on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He also pleaded guilty to 51 other offences, including 44 charges relating to 78 identified victims in mortuaries where he was working as an electrician.
The alleged crimes took place at the now-closed Kent and Sussex Hospital and the Tunbridge Wells Hospital. The victims include three patients under the age of 18 and several over the age of 85.
Police say they initially found recordings of Fuller’s crimes while searching his home for evidence during the murder investigation, including over 4 million images depicting sexual abuse. Most came from the internet, but several showed Fuller sexually abusing bodies in hospital mortuaries. In total, they found four hard drives with five terabytes of data attached to the back of a cupboard.
“When these hard drives were examined, they were found to contain a library of unimaginable sexual depravity,” said prosecutor Duncan Atkinson.
“There were both photographs and videos which showed the defendant sexually abusing female corpses in the mortuaries of the two hospitals at which he worked, first the Kent and Sussex Hospital, where he worked full time from 1989, and then the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, to which he moved in 2010,” he said.
During the trial, Fuller also admitted to looking up his victims on Facebook, so he could go back and name the files at a later date.
“He admitted to searching for them on the internet, including on Facebook. He claimed that this would be after the offending, rather than research before offending,” Atkinson added.
Atkinson says this proves Fuller committed these crimes out of “sexual gratification” and not mental illness.
“It shows the defendant to derive sexual gratification from sexual activity with those who have died,” he said. “It therefore provides a reason for the killings, however deviant and repellent, that does not depend on an explanation of mental illness that deprived the defendant of his self-control.”
On Trial for Murder
Fuller was able to evade conviction for the two murders for nearly 33 years. He was finally arrested in December of last year after decades-old DNA evidence was found linking him to the 1987 murders.
Ms. Kennel died in her apartment on June 23, 1987. Authorities say her body showed signs of blunt force trauma to the head, asphyxiation to the neck, and sexual assault after her death. The police eventually linked Fuller to the crime after finding his DNA samples on Kennel’s duvet.
Ms. Pierce was killed five months later near the same area. Her neighbors heard screams coming from inside her apartment on the night of the attack. She was later reported missing.
She was later found naked and dead in a water-filled dyke in December 1987. Again, the police found Fuller’s cells on Pierce’s tights, making him their number-one suspect. They also found photos of Pierce at work at a nearby restaurant that Fuller had taken prior to her death.
The police say both murders show evidence of “prowler activity” with reports of a man peaking through their windows.
The families of the victims are finally getting justice for the deceased.
“For 34 years we, as a family, the police and press have been focusing on what actually happened to Wendy, wanting to know who did it and how she spent her last moments alive,” said the family of Ms. Knell. “We now know and sadly it is much worse than we could ever have imagined. Hopefully, we can now start to grieve and move past the pain, and start to remember her as the beautiful, kind, generous, caring, funny girl she was. She had a smile and a kind word for everyone.”
They went on to say: “Although the guilty plea won’t change anything deep down as the pain and loss will always be there, it’s good knowing he will not be in a position to hurt or cause any more pain. Not just for our family. But for Caroline’s family and friends who’ve been on this same journey with us over all those years and all the other families this man’s affected, we feel deep sadness for all of you.”
Home secretary, Priti Patel, said she hopes the victims’ families can “find some solace in seeing justice finally done”.