Due to the graphic nature of this killer's crimes, listener discretion is advised this episode includes discussions of murder, child abuse, assault, torture and pedophilia that some people may find offensive. We advise extreme caution for children under 13.
20 year old Robert John Moseley burst into his tiny apartment in London and slammed the door behind him. His clothes were soaked in blood and he clutched a gore covered knife.
In one hand, he stuffed his bloody clothes into a plastic bag and stashed the knife under his couch. With the evidence hidden, Robert poured himself a cup of coffee and tried to calm down.
But as he sipped his bitter coffee, Robert's hands trembled, adrenaline still coursing through his body. He couldn't help but replay the events of the previous night. He knew what he did was wrong, but he had no choice in the matter.
He could still get away with it. Maybe he could start again. He thought there was time to get his things together and leave London, but he couldn't do it.
He had to face what he'd done. It was time to go to the police and tell them that he'd murdered a man. Hi, I'm Greg Polson. This is Serial Killers, a podcast original. Every episode we dive into the minds and madness of serial killers. Today, we're exploring the life and murders of Robert John Moxley.
I'm here with my co-host, Vanessa Richardson. Hi, everyone. You can find episodes of serial killers and all other cast originals for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts to stream serial killers for free on Spotify.
Just open the app and type serial killers in the search bar.
Today, we'll cover Robert Moseley's traumatic early life and explore how the abuse he suffered in childhood led him towards murder.
Next time we'll look at Robert's brutal crimes that earned him a reputation as one of Britain's most dangerous criminals and the nickname Hannibal the Cannibal. We've got all that and more coming up. Stay with us.
Born in 1953, Robert John Mosley's earliest memories were abuse and neglect growing up in Liverpool, England. Robert had parents ill suited to raising children, and yet they had four of them.
His father, George, was a violent man who beat his children for the slightest mistake or disobedience. Meanwhile, Jean was unprepared for motherhood, often ignoring her four children and turning a blind eye to her husband's brutality.
The abuse was so bad that when Robert was only six months old, neighbors called social services. The Moslehi children were swiftly removed from their home for their own safety and placed in Nazareth House, a Catholic orphanage in Liverpool, the Nazareth House.
Nuns provided the Maudsley children with something they never had at home, a sense of stability and safety. Soon enough, the children forgot all about the abuse they suffered at the hands of their parents.
In fact, the Maudsley siblings forgot they even had parents in the first place over their six year stay. The children believe that they were orphans, just like all the other children at Nazareth in 1961.
Robert's older brother was up for adoption and the other siblings would be next in line aware of their troubled upbringing. The nuns were determined to find a loving home for the children.
Unfortunately, George and Jean Maudsley heard the news and emerged to reclaim their children. For the first time, they visited the orphanage, which greatly confused their children. Robert and his siblings no longer recognise the strangers claiming to be their parents.
George and Jean convinced authorities that they were changed people and deserved to have their children back.
So social services stopped the adoption process and returned the Moslehi children to their family home.
Unfortunately, not much had changed in those years except the size of the family. Robert, who was now nine, now, had another younger sibling and his parents would go on to have 12 children in total. But despite what they told social services, the Motley's remained neglectful and as abusive as ever.
Life in the Maudsley home was a nightmare. All of the children were crammed into a small house where they often slept on the floor. They faced regular beatings from their father, who seemed to relish the violence. He hit his children with whatever he could find sticks, canes and even the butt of an air rifle, while Jean never laid a hand on their children.
She often instigated the violence by informing her husband of any misdeeds that deserved punishment and under the Motley's roof, so much qualified as bad behaviour. And yet the children weren't raised to be law abiding.
With so many mouths to feed, the Moslems struggled to make ends meet. So the children sometimes went out into the town to steal whatever they could. If they came home empty handed, they went without. If they were caught, their father beat them.
Robbert, as one of the younger children, may have received the worst of the abuse at one point. Robert claims that George locked him in a room for six months, visiting to beat him several times a day.
As Robert grew up, the abuse only escalated in that same locked room. George is said to have sexually abused Robert. It was a trauma the boy would carry with him into adulthood and likely contributed to his later acts of violence.
Vanessa is going to take over and the psychology here and throughout the episode. Please note, Vanessa is not a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, but she has done a lot of research for this show.
In the 2007 study, Early Physical Abuse and later Violent Delinquency, the authors found that the psychological trauma caused by childhood abuse can last for years after researchers also found that a child who suffers physical abuse before age five is more likely to respond to others actions with aggressive and violent responses and more likely to engage in later criminal behaviour.
For now, he endured the abuse, internalizing his emotions.
Letting them build Robert's childhood was a nightmare from which he never seemed able to wake up. But he didn't have to suffer a Georgias hand much longer. Within a year of being returned to his parents, 10 year old Robert was again removed by social services.
His parents didn't fight the decision. For the next six years, Robert was in foster care. It seemed that after he left the orphanage, Robert never really found a place where he was safe and cared for, let alone loved.
In 1969, 16 year old Robert ran away from the foster care system and set off for London. He likely hoped that the big city would offer him a fresh start away from the darkness of his past.
If that's what he searched for, he didn't find it. London wasn't the safe haven the troubled teen needed. Instead, the city he came to was a rough, cold place rife with drugs and crime.
Barely a young man, Robert was completely unprepared to take care of himself, and he fell into drug addiction. He couldn't hold down a job. So to pay for his drug habit, he turned to sex work, offering his services to men he met in local bars.
Throughout the next few years, Robert's life was filled with violence and hardship, though that was hardly different from what he already knew. At one point, he was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance. We don't know exactly what happened, but it was likely all too familiar for Robert. Once again, he experienced humiliating violence at the hands of someone he knew, with little else going for him and continuing trauma.
Robert's addiction only grew stronger during his four years in London, Robert struggled not only with addiction but also emerging violent thoughts and impulses. He began to hear voices whispering troubling ideas to him from the darker corners of his mind to subdue these thoughts, Robert self medicated with drugs and alcohol, feeding the vicious addiction cycle when it all got to be too much.
Robert tried to take his own life. It seems he attempted suicide at least two times around this time. He went to a psychiatric hospital where he complained to doctors about the voices in his head. By now, the voices were commanding him to kill his parents, despite what the voices demanded.
Robert knew he couldn't kill his parents, but he wanted to hurt someone, anyone far from feeling sorry for himself. He wanted revenge for the suffering he endured in his childhood.
It was only a matter of time before that desire for justice forced him to take violent action. Someone had to pay. Up next, Robert Mosley takes revenge. Hi, it's Greg Park.
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The only thing the doctor ordered is murder. Follow medical murders free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Now back to the story, by 1973, 20 year old Robert John Maudsley had already lived an incredibly troubled life after running from his abusive childhood. He arrived in London hoping for a fresh start. Unfortunately, he fell into addiction, was the victim of sexual assault and attempted suicide.
He spent time in psychiatric hospitals, but nothing ever lasted. It's possible he lost interest in seeking treatment or that the system deemed him not worth helping a lost cause. It seemed that not even the murderous voices in his head troubled authorities enough to offer Robert the help he needed.
Although he was never publicly diagnosed with a mental illness. Robert's admission that he heard voices instructing him to kill, along with his repeated attempts to take his own life, suggest that he may have lived with schizoaffective disorder.
According to the DSM, five people with schizoaffective disorder suffer psychosis, delusions and hallucinations in addition to the symptoms of a mood disorder such as mania or depression, according to doctors Tom Joshua IPY and Abdolreza Sarda, body schizoaffective disorder can have devastating effects if left untreated, including isolation and inability to take care of oneself and suicidal thoughts and actions.
Robert exhibited many of these traits where he spent time at the hospital following his suicide attempts. But again, it seems he received neither an official diagnosis or the help he needed.
Instead, he returned to the streets and fell back into the cycle of drug addiction, abuse and self-harm.
It's hard to say what might have happened to Robert had he not met John Farrell. But one night in the fall of 1973, he was approached on a quiet London street by a man in his 30s.
John Farrell was a construction worker who lived in Wood Green, a suburban area on the outskirts of London. Farrell told Robert he was recently divorced and looking for a companion for the evening, but Farrell wasn't looking to pay. Instead, he wanted to pursue a casual relationship with Robert. It was likely an unusual proposition for the 20 year old for whom love and sex were not related.
So he jumped at the opportunity for a relationship such as it was with the older, wealthier man. It was a chance to get off the street, at least temporarily, and enjoy some amount of support, either financial or emotional. Before long, their meetings were a regular occurrence, one of the more stable pieces of Robert's life.
Each time they met, Farrell met Robert in the city, then went together to his house and would greet Robert would usually use drugs during their nights together.
Habit Farrell tolerated on one visit after they'd been seeing each other for about six months. Farrell announced that he had a surprise for Robert. As usual, Robert was under the influence of some substance or another and barely paying attention.
But still, Farrell was insistent he wanted to let Robert in on a secret what he hoped would spice up their relationship. Excited, Farrell pulled out a stack of photographs from his dresser and presented them to his young companion in his drugged out state.
Robert struggled to understand what he was seeing. Wanting a reaction, Farrell prodded Robert to look closer. So he did. His eyes focused on the photos and suddenly, with horror, he realised what he was looking at pictures of young children being sexually abused. In an instant, all of his childhood memories came flooding back.
The children in Farrell's photographs reminded him of his own trauma of being locked up, beaten and raped by his father. His mind raced, his thoughts jumbled and foggy.
Farrell grinned, perhaps interpreting the silence as admiration. He bragged about what he'd done to the boys in the pictures. He asked Robert if he liked what he saw. Robert did not. The images disgusted him. What's more, he felt betrayed by someone he thought he could trust. Farrell had turned out to be just another abuser like his parents, and that enraged him. Roberts stood up trying to process his anger through the drug induced haze. He couldn't look at the pictures or Farrell any longer.
Confused and annoyed by Robert's reaction, Farrell asked again what he thought of the pictures. Finally, Farrell got to the point. He said he wanted Robert to do what the kids in the pictures were doing. Robert was horrified by the suggestion, and things began to move quickly.
The voices in his head screamed, amplifying every aggressive and vicious emotion he felt. They wanted him to take revenge. They wanted him to kill Roberts stood and paced around the room as the voices in his head demanded justice for the children in those photos and for himself, his parents weren't there, so he couldn't make them pay for what they'd done to him.
But he could take revenge on the child abuser standing in front of him. He would get vengeance for the boys. In the photographs, Robert Maudsley decided that John Farrell deserved to die.
His eyes darted around the room until he found a suitable weapon. We can't be sure what Robert picked up, but it was likely a length of fabric or rope when he saw it. The sinister voices spurred him on, telling him what to do next.
He grabbed the rope and tackled Farrell onto the bed. At first, the older man seemed to think he was playing around, so he didn't resist as Robert wrapped the noose around his neck. Then Roberts started to pull. By the time Farrell realized what was actually happening, it was too late.
Robert didn't let go until Farrell was still. Whether he was unconscious or dead made no difference. Robert would make sure he couldn't hurt anyone ever again.
He pulled out a pocket knife and stabbed Ferrell multiple times, but he wasn't satisfied there needed to be more suffering. So he found a hammer and smashed in the man's skull to finish the job standing by the body.
Robert thought about what he should do next. He could return to the London streets and carry on as if nothing happened, or he could flee the city and find a safer home elsewhere. Try to start again. He couldn't make up his mind.
But when the adrenaline wore off, when the drugs left his system, Robert was horrified by what he'd done. He realized that he'd lost control, that he was dangerous. Like his abusers, he deserved to face the consequences of his actions. He decided not to run. Instead, he would turn himself in thinking about it.
Robert hoped the police would agree that the murder was a service to the community. After all, he'd killed a pedophile. So when he spoke to Wood Green police, he told them that he'd just killed a man and that he desperately needed help. But there was little help police could give him. They took Robert to an interrogation room where he laid out the events of the previous night. Meanwhile, officers went to John Farrell's home where they found his body exactly as Robert described after Robert's arrest.
The court consulted with psychiatrists to determine whether he was fit to stand trial for murder in an attempt to better understand him. The court likely heard the full story of Roberts life, the physical and sexual abuse, the foster homes, his drug addiction, the suicide attempts and the voices in his head.
But Robert didn't expect to escape the consequences of his actions. In fact, he wanted to go to jail. Perhaps he thought prison was a place he would finally be taken care of, protected, but the court didn't send him to prison. Instead, the judge declared that the 21 year old was unfit to stand trial. So in 1974, Robert was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital for the criminally insane. And unfortunately, that was the last thing Robert needed.
The Broadmoor, a psychiatric hospital in Berkshire, was an intimidating structure with imposing brick architecture and barbed wire fencing. It looked less like a hospital and more like a maximum security prison. The courts and local villages treated it as such, and the staff weren't much better.
Broadmoor patients were subjected to dehumanizing treatment from being kept in arm and leg shackles to physical abuse from the nursing staff. The hospital itself was extremely overcrowded and unsanitary, only increasing the anguish felt by the patients, though it wasn't common knowledge at the time. Allegations have since emerged about decades of sexual abuse by Broadmoor staff and leadership.
Clearly, this was not a place where Robert Maudsley would find the help he needed. But either no one realized that or perhaps they didn't care. Just like in childhood, he was placed into an oppressive environment from which he couldn't escape. His internalized anger festered and his aggression grew.
Robert watched as a number of high profile patients flowed in and out of Broadmoor, including infamous serial killers and gangsters. Robert mostly kept to himself.
Then, in 1977, when he was 24, Robert met David Francis, a 26 year old child molester. Once he knew would. Frances's crimes were the voices in Roberts head returned, they compelled him to take action, Francis deserved to die. They urged, and Robert was the one to do it. By then, Robert had been at Broadmoor for nearly three years, the longest time he'd spent confined in one place since the orphanage. He knew the ins and outs of the hospital and he began planning a way to kill Francis, but he needed help.
Luckily, he'd made friends with fellow patient, 33 year old David Cheesman facing a life sentence at Broadmoor. Cheesman was desperate to escape the nightmarish conditions, and he figured killing was an excellent way to do it. He hoped that after committing murder, authorities would send him to a real prison. Together, Robert and Cheesman perfected their plan. They fashioned makeshift knives out of plastic spoons and brainstormed ways to be alone with David Francis for as long as they wanted.
You see, Robert didn't just want to murder Francis. He wanted to make it a spectacle no one would ever forget. Up next, Robert Maudsley becomes one of England's most infamous criminals. Now back to the story.
By 1977, 24 year old Robert John Maudsley had spent three years locked away in the Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital for the murder of John Farrell under the oppressive and dehumanizing conditions at Broadmoor.
Robert grew even more troubled and aggressive. He needed to unleash his rage. It just required the right spark to set him off. He found that spark in fellow patient David Francis, a paedophile.
According to neuroscience researchers Nathaniel E. Anderson and Kent DayQuil, reactive aggression, combined with impulsivity and a lack of behavioural control, is a distinguishing trait of psychopaths. Psychopaths exhibit intense aggression, which often leads to violence, reflecting a failure to control their impulses or understand the consequences of their behaviour. However, as Anderson and Kyle also note, impulsive aggression can be found in people with post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse issues or various other mental illnesses. Though Robert never received a diagnosis designating him as a psychopath, he exhibited some psychopathic tendencies.
His pent up anger and childhood trauma were so consuming that he couldn't stop himself from taking his aggression out on whoever angered him, and nothing angered him like a pedophile.
On the morning of February 26th, 1977, Broadmoor patients were allowed out of their cells for a game of soccer in the yard.
After the game, Robert and fellow patient David Cheesman approached Francis as the three men headed back to their cells before Francis realized what was happening. Robert and Cheesman grabbed him, put a knife to his throat and threw him into an empty storage room.
Nurses rushed over, but Robert held them back, brandishing his makeshift blade when the nurses retreated. Robert followed Cheesman into the storage room and slammed the door shut.
Cheesman barricaded the door as Robert bound Francis to a chair with a cord taken from a record player with Francis restrained Robert and Cheesman talk to the nurses through the door.
They demanded to see a psychiatrist or one of their fellow patients, perhaps hoping to take another hostage, concerned about what the men would do if another person entered the room.
The nurses denied the request, but that didn't matter to Robert. He had who he really wanted. He turned his attention to Francis, deciding what to do first. Through the window in the door, the nurses watched helplessly as Robert began kicking Francis's stomach.
But the disturbing show was cut short. Cheesman blocked the window as the abuse continued. Frantic, the nurses tried to break down the reinforced door, but stopped when Cheeseman threatened to kill Francis if they continued.
The staff and patients in the hospital endured Francis's agonizing screams as Robert and Cheesman tortured him. There was nothing anyone could do.
Just like his father had done to him, Robert tortured Francis inside a locked room. He did everything to Francis he wanted to do to his parents. He stabbed him, kicked him and smashed his head against the wall.
The torture continued for the rest of the day. After nine excruciating hours, Francis shouted at Robert, Why don't you kill me?
Surveying his work, Robert decided he finally was satisfied. He strangled Francis to death and the hospital was quiet.
Once more in the ringing silence, Robert and Cheesman unblocked the window and held up David Francis's body for the staff to see. Then they unlocked the door.
Guards rushed inside to subdue Robert and Cheesman while the nurses examined Francis's body. They'd only been able to imagine what was happening inside the small room. But now the full extent of the horror was revealed.
Francis's skull had been cracked open, revealing his brain underneath. There seemed to be a large chunk of it missing and a spoon wedged inside. The nurses recoiled in revulsion, believing Robert had eaten the missing piece. The truth was that Robert likely didn't eat any part of Francis. The spoon lodged in his skull was one of Robert's makeshift knives, which he stabbed into his victims ear.
But by the time the autopsy report made that clear, the story had already spread. The public was outraged and fascinated by the details of Francis's death and his supposed brain eating murderer.
Robert quickly gained infamy through. Out England, not as a murderer of pedophiles, as he saw himself, but as a deranged cannibal, Robert Maudsley and David Cheesman were charged with the murder of David Francis.
It's unclear why, but this time, court psychiatrist determined that Robert was fit to stand trial.
Both men pleaded guilty and they made their motives clear. They said they killed Francis in revenge for the sexual assaults he had committed. They wish to be sent to a conventional prison away from the inhumane treatment and the doctors they hated.
According to one account of the trial, Robert stood up and loudly declared that if he were sent back to Broadmoor, he would kill again.
Whether that threat swayed the court or not. Robert and Cheesman got what they wanted. They were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. They would serve their terms. At Wakefield Prison in northern England.
Robert had finally escaped Broadmoor, but as he'd learned already, a change of scenery didn't mean that his life was going to get any easier.
Wakefield Prison, a maximum security facility meant only for the most dangerous prisoners, had an even worse reputation than Broadmoor thanks to its vicious inmate population. The prison had a colorful nickname, Monster Mansion, despite Wakefield's countless dangerous criminals.
All eyes were on the now infamous Robert Maudsley as he arrived.
Stories about Robert's latest murder had spread even to Wakefield, specifically the rumours that he'd eaten his victims brain guards and inmates alike taunted Robert, calling him Spoon's cannibal and brain eater.
Among Robert's tormentors were numerous sex offenders and pedophiles, some of the worst in the country.
Suddenly, Robert was surrounded by exactly the kind of people that set the voices in his head to talking.
Robert made clear to authorities his compulsion to kill sex offenders and said that he posed a major threat to other prisoners, but his warnings, such as it was, fell on deaf ears. So Robert decided he would strike back in the only way he knew how to murder.
Given the population of Wakefield, finding a suitable target wouldn't be a problem. There were plenty of prisoners who made Roberts violent impulses flare up, but he knew that this time it wouldn't be enough to simply murder another inmate.
He had to go big. He had to shock the system.
So in the summer of 1978, Robert Maudsley stepped out of his prison cell with a plan. He was going to kill as many people as he could. Thanks again for tuning into serial killers.
We'll be back next time with part two of Robert John Moxley story. We'll cover Motley's crimes inside Wakefield Prison and his life afterwards as Britain's most dangerous inmate.
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Have a killer week. Serial Killers was created by Max Cutler and is a podcast studio's original executive producers include Max and Ron Cutler, Sound Design by Mike Ramos with production assistants by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Joshua Kern.
This episode of Serial Killers was written by Ryan Lee with writing assistants by Abigail Canon and stars Greg Polson and Vanessa Richardson.
Hi, listeners, remember to check out the new precast original series, Medical murders every Wednesday beat the worst to the medical community has to offer men and women who took an oath to save lives, but instead use their expertise to develop more sinister specialties, follow medical murders free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.