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Due to the graphic nature of this killer's crimes, listener discretion is advised this episode includes discussions of murder, assault and domestic violence that some people may find offensive. We advise extreme caution for children under 13. Tracy pulled her jacket more tightly around her, shivering against the bitter December wind as she passed a pub closing its doors for the night. A crowd of laughing partygoers in Christmas sweaters spilled out onto the sidewalk. But Tracy wasn't feeling the festive spirit in the final weeks of 2006.


A shadow had fallen over Ipswich, an unassuming town on England's sleepy East Coast. Five young women had been found dead, their nude bodies dumped in remote locations around town. The work of a serial murderer who was still at large. Like all of the murdered women, 31 year old Tracy was a sex worker after the killings began. She and her colleagues were scared. They'd agreed to be more careful on the streets and not to take on any new clients.


Stick to the regulars, they decided the men they knew and trusted.


As she turned a corner heading into the heart of the red light district, Tracey noticed a familiar car, a blue Ford Mondeo, cruising slowly down the street. She didn't need to look any closer to know who the driver was.


Steve Wright was a regular in every sense of the word. He'd been a client for two years, both to Tracey and to other local sex workers as Tracey caught his eye.


He slowed his car to a stop and beckoned her over a relieved smile spread across Tracy's face as she crossed the street toward the car. She knew right. Well, for tonight, at least, she knew she would be safe.


Hi, I'm Greg Paulson.


This is Serial Killers, a Spotify original from podcast. Every episode we dive into the minds and madness of serial killers. Today, we're exploring the horrific killing spree of Steve Wright, also known as the Suffolk Strangler.


I'm here with my co-host, Vanessa Richardson.


Hi, everyone. You can find episodes of Serial Killers and all other originals from podcast for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.


In our last episode, we talked about Steve Wright's troubled upbringing, his obsession with sex workers, and how his Jekyll and Hyde personality emerged. His seemingly ordinary exterior belied a capacity for terrible violence, which escalated in 2006 when he began killing young women.


Today will track Wright's frenzied murder spree, during which he killed five sex workers before he was brought to justice. We've got all that and more coming up. Stay with us.


His town was descending into panic in the final weeks of 2006, but 48 year old Steve Wright was on top of the world. He had gotten away with murder twice on December 2nd.


A passer by found the body of Gemma Adams, the second woman he killed. His first victim, Tanya Nicole, had still not been found.


What's more, his devoted girlfriend, Pamela, suspected nothing. The Steve she knew was a shy, unremarkable man who loved golf soap operas and her homemade shepherd's pie.


But without even knowing it, Pamela was a part of his deadly nighttime routine. Pamela worked night shifts at a call center every evening, right. Came home from his own job as a forklift driver, ate dinner, then drove Pamela to work. After kissing her goodbye, he drove back into town where he picked up sex workers in the red light district.


But more recently, writes, Appetite's took a darker turn. Now, he wasn't looking for women to sleep with. He was looking for his next victim. He was meticulous. He used gloves to handle the bodies, then carefully vacuumed his car and washed his clothes right after. By the time Pamela arrived home at dawn, he was in bed, sound asleep the day Gemma's body was found.


Right, and Pamela were watching the news on TV. Pamela pushed her plate away, unable to eat another bite with horror. She said, I'll bet the other one's dead, too, without missing a beat.


Right. Kept eating and said, Yeah, I bet you're right.


Most people wouldn't be this calm watching their murders become headline news. But right. Wasn't like most people.


Vanessa's 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.


Thanks. Greg writes, calm behavior during this period and his uncanny ability to lie to his loved ones could indicate antisocial personality disorder. Although as far as we know, he's never been diagnosed with this or any other personality disorder. Right. Fits many of the criteria for APD, as outlined by the DSM five, a pattern of deceitfulness, a failure to follow through on personal or professional obligations, hostility and a lack of remorse for hurting others. He lied to his partners about using sex workers for years, dating all the way back to his 20s.


He had a long history of bad debts and short lived jobs and seemed free from remorse for the violent abuse of his second wife, Diane.


Though it's not clear what was going through Wright's head at the moment. His murders came on the news. It seems that he wasn't afraid of getting caught. In fact, it's possible the discovery made him more anxious to kill again. The day after Gemma's body was found, he was back on the hunt.


On the evening of December, Third Reich picked up 24 year old Anneli Alderton, a feisty mother of one. Annalie struggled with drug addiction in her teenage years and was never able to shake the habit. In the last months of 2006, she turned to sex work in order to make ends meet.


She was last seen alive that night, boarding a train around six p.m. on her way to Ipswich, where she was known to work the streets. A few hours after she arrived in Ipswich, she crossed paths with Steve Wright.


It's important to note that Wright has never offered full accounts of his murders, so we can only piece together a possible version of events based on forensic evidence and later testimony. What's uncontested is. That right drove Analeigh back to his flat on London Road just a few minutes away from where he picked her up and they had sex after they finished and tried to leave.


But Wright wouldn't let her. He made a habit of choosing women who were physically slight and stood no chance against him. It was only too easy for him to overpower her and strangle her to death. Shortly before 2:00 a.m., a traffic camera captured right driving out of Ipswich, he drove several miles southeast with Analise body on the floor of his car, stopping in a wooded area near the village of Inactine. There, he prepared to dispose of her body just as he had taenias and Gemas.


But this time something was different. Right left his first two victims in water. But this evening, he chose dry land. And instead of simply dumping Annaly in the woods, he arranged her body in a cruciform shape on her back, arms outstretched, side to side, like a cross.


Even with this extra attention to detail, right was back home by 3:00 a.m. As always, he washed and vacuumed his car, put all of his clothing in the washing machine and went to bed. Meanwhile, in Horak, a town some 40 minutes away by car, Analise mother was getting more and more worried. The following day, she reported her daughter missing with two women now missing and one dead.


The police investigation was gathering steam after the discovery of Gemma Adams body in ballasted. Brook police divers were brought in to search the entire stream, which is several miles long.


On December 8th, 2006, they made a grim breakthrough. Tanya Nichols' body was found in the water near Coppock Mill.


This was a couple of miles downstream from where Gemma was found. The weather was unusually rainy that November and the brook flooded as a result.


So it was only once the water receded that the bodies were visible because her body was in the water for so long, it was difficult to confirm a cause of death for Tanya. But the post-mortem did show that the cartilage in her throat was compressed, which suggested strangulation. In light of the overwhelming similarities between Gemma and Tanya's deaths, the police announced that they were launching a linked murder investigation. Local sex workers were terrified. Many were already too scared to work on the streets after the discovery of Gemma's body.


Now, the possibility that a serial killer was targeting them only heightened their fear. Contrastingly composed right watch the panic unfold from his living room. But he knew there would be more scrutiny than ever on the men who solicited services from sex workers. The police were going door to door questioning locals about the women's disappearances. It would have been reasonable for right to start worrying at this point, especially since the police had his DNA on file back in 2003. He was arrested and charged with petty theft after stealing 40 pounds from a bar he worked at as a standard procedure.


A sample of his DNA was taken and stored in the national database. If investigators pulled any DNA from his victims and tested it against their records, it would lead straight to him. But Wright wasn't perturbed. In fact, the discovery of each new body only seemed to spur him on mere hours after Tanya was found. He was back on the streets hunting for his next victim on the evening of December 8th after dropping Pamela off at work. Right. Picked up 29 year old sex worker Annette Nichols.


INET grew up on a council estate on the outskirts of Ipswich where she dreamed of becoming a beautician while studying to achieve that dream. She developed a heroin addiction and began working in the sex trade despite her struggles. She was a devoted single mother to her young son.


Again, we don't know exactly what happened between Right and Annett after she got into his car that evening. It's likely he took her back to his flat where they had sex. At some point, Annette tried to leave and right struck. He strangled her, then put her body on the floor of his car and set out for a short familiar drive. Right, left Annette's body in the woods near Inactine, a short way from where Anneli Alderton still lay.


And just like Annalie, he arranged Annette's body in a cruciform position, her arms outstretched.


This change in right M.O. is striking. As far as we know, he wasn't a religious man, so the iconography is unexpected. The FBI's method for classifying serial killer crime scenes uses two distinct terms to describe a scene like this, where a victim's body is manipulated in a particular way by the killer. If the alterations to the body are made to fulfill the killer's fantasy or to send a message, they're known as posing. But if the alterations are made to throw investigators off the scent, the term is staging, right?


Didn't have a religious upbringing, and there's no indication that he went to church by posing anally. And Annett in this distinctive way. Wright may have been trying to mislead investigators into thinking their murders were unrelated to Gemma and Tanya.


Whatever his intention, this was a mistake. Disposing of Tanya and Gemma in water was a smart move. It destroyed most of the evidence that could be used to identify him. But he disposed of Natalee in a net on dry land and prolonged his contact with them by posing the bodies. It was an error in judgment that would cost him dearly.


Up next, the walls begin to close in on Steve Wright.


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Now back to the story. As Steve writes, killing spree continued in Ipswich through the first two weeks of December 2006, the 48 year old was becoming bolder and less careful. He had now strangled four women to death in a striking departure from his initial M.O., he left his last two victims, Anneli Alderton and Annette Nicholls, in a crucifix like Poes.


Analise body was found on December 10th, a week after she disappeared. And unlike Gemma and Tanya, who were left in water, her post-mortem held several important clues for investigators.


The coroner found that her cause of death was asphyxiation and that she was three months pregnant when she died. There was also a substantial amount of DNA on her body, which was sent for analysis with three linked murders.


The Suffolk police were in uncharted territory. The force, which primarily serves rural and coastal areas, had never been the focus of such fervent national and international attention. And it had never mounted an inquiry on this scale.


As prayer vigils for the murdered and missing women were held across the nation, tabloid headlines fanned the flames of panic. They declared that Ipswich was being terrorized by a ripper. This loaded term evoked the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, who killed 13 women in the north of England during the 1970s, and Jack the Ripper, who murdered sex workers in 19th century London.


But given the killer's M.O., Ripper was a clear misnomer. As more information emerged, many news outlets adopted an alternative nickname, the Suffolk Strangler.


Wright's girlfriend, Pamela, was terrified, and so were all of her female colleagues. But Wright went out of his way to soothe her. He said the murders were probably the work of, quote, some foreigners and told her she didn't need to be scared because he would protect her.


He even went so far as to give Pamela a personal rape alarm and told her to stop taking the trash outside at night, he would do it himself. He said so that she didn't have to risk going out alone after dark. This behavior seems at odds with what we know about rights earlier relationship, but the neighbor of rights abused second wife, Diane, described him as a real Jekyll and Hyde character, liable to turn on a dime.


But by the time he met Pamela, he seemed to have suppressed his dark side so completely that she had no idea it was there at all.


Pamela only knew right. As a quiet, devoted boyfriend, he could be intense. Sometimes he would squeeze her incredibly tightly, explaining that it was because he didn't want to let her go. But there were also glimpses of darkness, right once told Pamela that he would kill himself if she ever left him.


None of this struck Pamela as alarming, and never for a second did she imagine he could be responsible for the murders that were keeping her awake at night.


And while his girlfriend worried about her safety. Right, seemed to thrive on the attention that his murders were drawing. Only hours after Analise body was found, he struck again that night. He drove Pamela to work as normal, then returned to the red light district to find his next target, 24 year old Paula Clennell. Paula was a mother to three young children. According to friends, she struggled with motherhood and turned to drugs to cope. Once social workers discovered that she was addicted to heroin.


Her children were taken into government care, which devastated her.


Paula took up sex work in the hopes of saving up enough money to buy a house and fight for custody of her daughters. Like many local sex workers, she'd thought twice about going back out to work after the murders. In fact, she became a public voice for the women working on the streets of Ipswich.


Shortly after Gemma's body was found, Paula gave an interview to a TV network. She was recorded from behind her face, concealed to protect her identity. During the interview, Paula admitted that she was wary of getting into clients cars, but said she would probably still do it because she couldn't afford to turn the work down.


This is the terrible reality. So many sex workers faced that December, though they were scared for their lives, they simply couldn't afford to stop working. It also speaks to a broader truth of the profession. Sex workers are disproportionately likely to be the victims of violent crime.


And this seemed to be a fact that Paula was aware of. She was smart and she was wary. She knew getting into cars with clients was potentially dangerous, but she had to keep working. And tragically, on the night of December 10th, it was Wright's car she got into. After having sex with Paula at his flat, right, strangled her, he put her body into his car and drove for 15 minutes heading southeast, he turned off the main road and arrived in the woods at Inactine, his favorite spot for dumping bodies.


He left Paula's body there a short distance from and that's the way Wright disposed of. Paula is notable for a couple of reasons. For one, he chose to leave her in the same area where he had left both Emily and Annette. This despite the fact that Analise body had been found only hours earlier. He could hardly have picked a riskier location. Right.


Also appears to have dumped Paula's body in a hurry. He spent no time arranging her into a crucifix pose, nor did he bother trying to find a body of water to leave her in. Everything about the way Paula's body was left indicates that Wright was running short on time.


We don't know exactly why Wright was in such a hurry that night. Perhaps he realized what a risk he was taking by returning to the scene of the crime and decided to leave quickly. But it's strange that this didn't occur to him earlier. During the drive to Inactine, returning to that same stretch of woodland almost seems like the action of someone trying to be found out.


There's a popular idea that many serial killers do subconsciously want to be caught. But according to the FBI, this is a myth. In a 2008 publication, the bureau discussed this concept at length. What usually happens is that a serial killer becomes increasingly confident and empowered as they continue to commit murders while avoiding capture. They begin to feel invincible that they'll never be found out, that cockiness leads them to take more shortcuts and risks as they continue to kill. To quote the FBI, it is not that serial killers want to get caught.


They feel that they can't get caught. It's likely that Wright, who had gone undetected for weeks, simply developed the arrogance that comes with repeatedly getting away with murder. He had not been stopped. Therefore, he could not be stopped.


But his surroundings were growing more and more dangerous. The streets of Ipswich were now crawling with police, and members of the public and surrounding areas were also on high alert. On December 12, a pedestrian saw Paula's body lying close to the roadside and called the police rights decision to leave.


His last three victims so close to each other was a godsend to the investigation. As officers responded on the ground, a police helicopter was also sent to the scene with their bird's eye view. Officers in the helicopter spotted another body just a few hundred yards away. It was Annette Nichols. The coroner could determine a cause of death for a net, but did confirm that her breathing was hampered.


But Paula had been dead for only 48 hours at this point, and the coroner was able to say with certainty that she was strangled.


When news broke that two more bodies had been found, Pamela was at work upset. She called right at home. His response was a nonchalant, yeah, I know.


With no remorse and no fear that he would be caught, writes Violent urges Serj once more.


On the night of December 14th, he picked up 31 year old sex worker Tracy Russell and took her back to his flat. Tracey knew, right?


Well, he was a regular client and she felt safe with him, but she was startled by his appearance that night. Ordinarily, he was well groomed, always dressed in nice pants and a sweater. But this evening he wore sweatpants and he looked clammy.


It wasn't just his disheveled appearance that gave her pause. As they headed to Wright's bedroom, Tracy sensed that he wasn't himself. He told her that he didn't want to rush, that he would pay her extra to take her time. It was an unusual request from Wright, who was something of a cheapskate. In fact, he usually tried to haggle women down to a lower price.


Still, Tracy accepted she was in no hurry to go back out into the cold, dark night. Better the devil, you know, she figured.


But within minutes, Wright's demeanor shifted, his face darkened. Suddenly, she barely recognized him.


He pinned her down onto the bed hard enough to frighten her. It was so out of character that Tracy was stunned into silence, unsure how to react. But before things went any further, they heard a loud bang that sounded like a car door, right froze.


Then he sprang into motion, ordering Tracy out. He seemed panicked, trying to help her get dressed and practically shoving her out of the flat. Tracy never found out exactly what the noise was. It's possible that Pamela arrived home early from work that night, which would explain Wright's reaction. Whatever the noise was, it likely saved her life. Even before they were interrupted, right, wasn't acting like his usual calm, collected self, his disheveled, sweaty appearance suggests he might have been starting to panic.


Perhaps he sensed that the walls were swiftly closing in on him.


His nervous demeanor made sense because the manhunt had taken over Ipswich. The streets were flooded with police officers and vehicles from more than 40 forces nationwide. Investigators were going door to door, searching sites of interest and scouring CCTV footage. But their real breakthrough arrived with the results of the DNA analysis.


While water washed away any forensic evidence from Wright's first two victims, the bodies of Aneli, Annette and Paula all carried significant DNA traces. And there was one male profile found on all three bodies on December 17th.


The police matched this profile to a sample in the national database. The DNA belonged to Steve Wright. Almost two months after Ipswich, his nightmare began. The police were confident they had their man and they were ready to close the net. Coming up, Wright is finally brought to justice. Now back to the story. On December 17th, 2008, Suffolk police made a breakthrough in their investigation of five serial murders after a weeks long manhunt that consumed the town of Ipswich.


They uncovered DNA evidence linking one man to all five murdered women.


That man was 48 year old Steve Wright, a forklift driver who lived in the centre of town. But Wright wasn't the only person of interest on the police's radar.


It may seem strange that the police were still pursuing other leads, given the DNA evidence against Wright, but they had good reason to be suspicious of supermarket worker Tom Stephens.


37 year old Stevens was a regular client of both Tania Nicol and Gemma Adams and was formally questioned by police in November after their disappearances. Since then, he had repeatedly called the police to make a number of strange statements.


Stephen said that he had had sex with all five missing women and was concerned he would be wrongfully accused of their murders. Then on December 18, he called the police to explain that he was worried he had a split personality and might be doing things without realizing it.


It's striking that Stevens would choose to voice his fears in this way, given that Wright himself was so often described as having a Jekyll and Hyde dual personality.


That day, the police arrested and questioned Stevens. It's not clear whether he was being investigated as a possible accomplice to write or as an independent suspect. But his house was searched and his cell phone and laptop were confiscated for forensic examination.


Then, before daybreak on December 19th. Police raided Wright's home. They arrested him on suspicion of murdering all five women and took him into custody.


Pamela, still at work on a night shift, rang the house shortly before 5:00 a.m. This was a regular routine. She called right early in the morning to make sure he was awake for work. But that day there was no answer.


She worried had he had a heart attack before she could call again, her supervisor approached her and explained that the police were there to see her as she walked into a meeting room with two solemn faced officers. Pamela feared the worst, but not in her wildest dreams did she imagine what they were about to tell her. The officers explained that Wright had been arrested on suspicion of five murders. Pamela was in disbelief. They had the wrong man.


She told them her Steve wasn't capable of such violence and he never used sex workers. Surely this was some kind of terrible mistake. She kept talking to the police, desperate to make them believe her. But that was an impossible task. Following his arrest. Police searched Wright's house and car, finding more evidence tying him to the crimes. In addition to the DNA found on Aneli, Annett and Paulas bodies, Annette and Paulas blood was found on a reflective coat that belonged to Wright.


Additionally, fibers from the carpet of Wright's car, from clothing he owned and from several items inside his home were found on each of the victim's bodies.


The day after his arrest, Wright was charged with all five murders.


He maintained his innocence, insisting that he picked up the women for sex but had nothing to do with their deaths.


A couple of days after Wright was charged, Tom Stephens was released on bail. Ultimately, he was never charged. But while Stephen slipped back into a life of obscurity. News that the Suffolks Triangular had been apprehended made headlines across the UK and drew coverage from around the globe.


As Christmas Eve dawned bright and chilly, the town of Ipswich was finally able to breathe again. Memorial offerings were scattered across the outskirts of town, bouquets of flowers, teddy bears, sympathy cards marking the five spots where Tanya, Gemma, Aneli, Annette and Paula were found. After so many weeks of agony, the victims families finally had something like closure.


But many of the answers they were seeking would remain elusive at Wright's trial in early 2008. Robert Sadd, a spokesperson for the prosecution, noted that Wright's motive was still unclear. He said We will probably never know why. Quite often in a murder case, we do not know the motive or understand it. If we do, the evidence leads us to who did it, and that's more important.


It's true that we may never know what Wright's motive was, though. The fact that he targeted sex workers and killed each woman shortly after sleeping with her suggests that the motivation was sexual. Research has shown that strangulation. Is the cause of death in a majority of sexually motivated murders, forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz attributes this finding to the fact that sexually motivated killers crave intimacy with their victims. Unlike killing someone with a gun or another weapon.


Manual strangulation involves sustained physical contact, right.


Had a long history of behavior that seems in retrospect like foreshadowing. His neighbors in Essex watched in horror as he strangled his second wife, Diane, right in front of them. Even years later with Pamela, he sometimes squeezed her tight, telling her he never wanted to let her go.


At his trial in 2008, Wright pleaded not guilty. He claimed that he only had sex with the victims and that he had nothing to do with their deaths.


In one remarkable moment, Wright was asked to account for the fact that he happened to pick up all five women on the same nights that they died.


Lost for words. He called it a singularly unfortunate coincidence.


But he was trapped by the ordinary, unassuming mask he used so many times. Wasn't going to work in the courtroom.


On February 21st, 2008, the families of Tanya Nicole, Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell gathered in the public gallery of Ipswich Crown Court, they held hands as the verdict was read out. The jury declared Wright guilty on all counts.


The following day, the judge sentenced right to a whole life term, meaning there was no possibility of parole or conditional release. He told right that this sentence was the only one that was appropriate in the light of his targeted campaign of murder.


At 49, Steve Wright would spend the rest of his life in prison. To this day, more than 12 years after his sentencing, Wright has never confessed to any of the murders. His father, Conrad, has publicly urged him to confess to no avail. The closest we have to a confession is a letter he wrote to his father in 2007 while he was in prison awaiting trial.


Wright wrote, You have never seen me angry before because I am a quiet and placid person.


Whenever I get upset, I tend to bury it deep inside, which I suppose is not a healthy thing to do. The more I do that, the more withdrawn I become because I have seen too much anger and violence in my childhood to last anyone a lifetime. It's significant that he brought these words to Conrad, who was right at the center of the anger and violence he's referring to earlier in the story, we explored how Wright's childhood was marred by the loss of his mother, Patricia, who fled her abusive marriage to Conrad.


Intimate violence was modeled far right at a young age.


But none of this fully explains why his suppressed anger curdled into violence in the final months of 2006. Whatever pushed Wright to kill a twisted desire for intimacy, an all consuming rage towards women, he appears to have no more insight into his motivations than the rest of us.


Conrad, right now 84 years old, has spoken to the press several times about his son. He's made it clear that although he still wants a confession from Wright, he's not optimistic about ever getting one.


No matter how much he claims not to remember, Steve Wright cannot escape his own nature. In the original novella, Dr. Jekyll created Mr. Hyde as a way to free himself from morality, using his monstrous alter ego to indulge his dark impulses while keeping his own conscience clear. It didn't work.


Hyde began to take over, and Jekyll's ability to transform back into himself was gradually eroded in trying to dissociate from the monster, Jekyll only made the monster stronger and more angry until finally it destroyed the balance of his soul. For years, Steve Wright paid women for their company and their intimacy, now when he goes to sleep at night in the prison cell where he will spend the rest of his life, the only company he has is his own monstrous self.


Thanks again for tuning into serial killers.


We'll be back next week with a new episode for more information on Steve Wright.


Amongst the many sources we used, we found Ian Gallagher's Daily Mail interview with Pamela Wright extremely helpful to our research.


You can find all episodes of serial killers and all other originals from podcast for free on Spotify.


Will see you next time. Have a killer week.


Serial Killers is a Spotify original from podcast. Executive producers include Max and Ron Cuddler Sound Design by Jay Cohen with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Bruce Catterick. This episode of Serial Killers was written by Emma Daybed in with Writing Assistants by Joel Kaplan, fact checking by Bennett Logan and research by Brian Petrus and Mikki Taylor. Serial Killers stars Greg Polson and Vanessa Richardson. Hang a horseshoe above your door, keep a rabbit's foot in your pocket and follow superstitions free on Spotify, listen every Wednesday for the surprising backstories to our most curious beliefs and thrilling tales that illuminate the mystical eeriness of our favorite superstitions.