The Beast of Jersey
A policeman modeling the mask of the Beast of Jersey.
Who was Edward Paisnel?
Between 1957 and 1971, a man named Edward Paisnel raped and sodomized more than 13 people living on the isle of Jersey. For those not aware, Jersey is part of the channel islands located between England and France.
He was the most despicable type of criminal. By day an average family man who held a job as a construction worker. Everything wasn’t roses, though, in the Paisnel household.
His wife described her husband as having “a low sex drive.” He kept all of his possessions in a special, locked section of the house that all other family members were forbidden to enter. After his arrest, police breached the locks and found several strange costumes and a Satanic shrine. The room had a pungent, musky odor—the same odor described by several of his victims.
One of Paisnel’s costumes.
Paisnel assaulted his first victim in 1957. She was a young woman minding her own business, waiting for a bus in a remote area. He came from behind and tied a rope around her neck. This noose was used to drag her off the side of the road, where he proceeded to rape her.
For the next two years, this was his modus operandi, raping women near the bus stop. However, in 1959, he apparently grew tired of this and started breaking into women’s homes. Over the next several years, he would break into the home in the middle of the night, take his victims outside, and brutally rape, sodomize and assault them. His victims included a mother-daughter pair. When he was finished with them, he returned them to their homes.
The crimes were carried out in consistently the same manner. This led police to believe it was the work of one individual. All attacks were carried out between the hours of 10:00 PM and 3:00 AM.
All victims reported their attacker as being a thin man in his 40s, about 5′6″ tall with a musty, damp smell. They also said he spoke in an affected Irish accent and talked a bit about cigarettes and lighters.
Paisnel didn’t smoke, and he wasn’t Irish. These were deliberate actions on his part designed to confuse law enforcement. In later attacks, he added his homemade rubber mask and a woman’s wig made of black hair. He also would wear a heavy coat that was studded with nails on the lapels. As you might imagine, this attire terrified his victims and kept them from getting a good look at him.
Pointing the finger
The Isle of Jersey is just 9 miles long and 5 miles wide. At the time the crimes were being committed, the population was around 30,000. It was one of those places where everybody knew everybody else. Reports of the crimes appeared in the local newspaper. They referred to their unknown criminal as “The Beast of Jersey.”
As part of their search for the beast, police requested fingerprints from every man on the Island. Each had the right to refuse, and all but thirteen complied. Edward Paisel was one of them.
That didn’t matter much at the time as the public had their eye on a man named Alphonse Le Gastelois. Locals were so certain of his guilt that they burnt his house down in anger. The suddenly homeless Gastelois left the island, but the attacks continued as always.
Gastelois: Innocent, but relocated.
Before long, it became apparent that Gastelois wasn’t the perpetrator.
How Was Edward Paisnel Caught?
The real Beast of Jersey kept up his attacks until 1971. Paisnel took breaks between his crimes several times in the years between 1957 and 1971. These served to throw police off his trail a bit.
In 1966, however, he got cocky and wrote a letter to police taunting them “just to see if you can catch me”. He followed up his letter with a brutal rape, as threatened in his correspondence.
Then, one sticky summer night in 1971, two Jersey police officers witnessed a car driving erratically. The car hopped curbs, clipped other vehicles, and drove through a hedge straight into a tomato field. The driver attempted to bail out of the vehicle before it was stopped. He attempted to run away.
The cops were faster, however, and were able to tackle and handcuff the driver. He was brought into the local police office and questioned. It was readily apparent this was no ordinary reckless driver. He wore an odd, dark outfit and emitted a strong, musty smell. The cops found a flashlight that had all of the reflective parts taped off, and they found one extremely creepy homemade mask that looked like it was straight out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
As if things weren’t strange and disturbing enough, upon questioning, Paisnel said that his clothing was so bizarre because he was on his way to an orgy. OK, whatever. The cops didn’t buy that excuse and were soon searching his home.
During their search, they quickly found his “off-limits” room. As noted earlier, it stank, was full of strange creepy clothes, and had featured a Satanic altar. This was not your typical Jersey family man.
The real face of Edward Paisnel
So what happened next?
With a mountain of evidence against him, Paisnel went to trial. It took a jury less than 40 minutes of deliberation to find him guilty of 13 counts of rape, assault, and sodomy. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Amazingly, he was considered to be a model prisoner and was released a full 10 years early—[Insert your exclamation of disbelief here].
Having balls of brass, he tried to move back to Jersey, but the locals were having none of that. He moved instead to the Isle of Wight, where he died of a heart attack in 1994, three years after his release.
He is currently serving a sentence of eternal damnation.