The Infamous ‘Acid Bath Murder’ Case of Serial Killer John George Haigh

We often think of older times as simpler ones, but that is not always the case. John George Haigh was a man who grew up with a simple life, but did not keep it that way. As more time passed, John began to form a hunger. He wanted what he wanted and felt that it was his right to take anything that he wanted. It was this terrifying entitlement that led him to begin killing. Nine victims later, he was finally caught. Still, a lifetime of evil seemed to be his destiny.

john george haigh

A Simple Life

John Haigh lived in London in the late 1930s. He was married to a beautiful young woman and had a happy child on the way. He had various respectable jobs, but couldn’t quite seem to keep them. Despite a normal upbringing, Haigh was always putting his hands where he shouldn’t. For Haigh, a simple life with a family would never be good enough. He wanted more.

His First Imprisonment

Haigh’s desire to have more led him to begin committing crimes. At first, it was petty theft. Over time, he refined his practices and ultimately ended up being charged for fraud. He was caught outright for his actions and was formally charged over them. A sentence was given and Haigh immediately got sent off to prison. While in prison, his life deteriorated further. Not only did he bring his family shame for his criminal activity, but John also shamed the family by losing control of his wife. While Haigh sat in prison, his young bride gave his daughter up for adoption the moment that she was born,and then she left him. She wanted a chance to start over and made that happen.

Fraud and Beyond

As time passed, Haigh was not any less interested in crime. He knew that he could make plenty of money by committing fraud, and consistently came up with new and exciting ways to embrace it. For John, it was almost a game. It was this belief that frustrated him each time the police caught him and hauled him back to jail. Over time, Haigh began to notice that every time he got thrown in jail, it was because of the person that he had scammed. For him, new ideas began to form.

The First Murder

A man this comfortable with fraud and deceit was unlikely to make many friends, but John did exactly that. In London, he spent time chatting with one of his old coworkers and having a laugh. The coworker had a nice job working for his parents, and John thought that it sounded pretty great. Unfortunately, they didn’t need any more help.

The Sydney Morning Herald July 19, 1949

For John, this was the perfect moment to take what he wanted. In an unspeakable act of horror, John actually murdered his friend in cold blood, then painted him as a coward running from the war to the man’s parents. In his absence, John politely offered to take over the job and enjoyed the relaxing work for some time.

A New Kind of Crime

Unlikely Haigh’s previous crimes, he realized that he got away with murder because there was no one left to tell anyone what he did. Killing his friend had worked out surprisingly well for him, and Haigh wanted to keep that going. When his friend’s parents asked too many questions, they met their end. John robbed them blind and then vanished. This is when his new form of fraud started. Instead of scamming living people, he would kill them, take their prized possessions, and steal their money. John repeated this over and over until he was finally caught.

John George Haigh evidence 1
John Haigh Murder case, police search Hurstlea Products Factory at Crawley, scene of the ‘acid bath’ murders. Detectives search for remains and clues in the grounds of the factory. A rich widow was missing, Mrs Durand-Deacon, 1st March 1949 (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

The Acid Baths

A murderer needs an easy way to dispose of his victims, and Haigh had figured out the perfect strategy. Every single person that he murdered ultimately ended up in a vat of acid. He would take time to dissolve the bodies over a number of days, then simply let the sludge run off into nearby drains. In his mind, it was the easiest way to get rid of the bodies. If there were no bodies to be found, the people were missing and not murdered, which meant he shouldn’t be caught.

Convicted Once More

Eventually, Haigh’s greed caught up with him. He murdered the wrong woman, and when the police came looking, they immediately found her personal items. Worse for Haigh, they also found items from the other victims. John was finally caught after a long line of terrible crimes. This time, the courts wasted no time in guaranteeing that he would never be free again.

A Just Execution

A man this dangerous who had wronged so many could never be free, and the courts decided that he did not deserve to live. It was ultimately determined that John Haigh would be executed for his crimes. There was plenty of speculation about his mental state, which did stall the court proceedings to an extent. Ultimately, they decided that Haigh knew exactly what he was doing and agreed that the world would be safer without him in it. He was rightfully hanged for his crimes against humanity, freeing the world of his greed once and for all.

BreeAnn is the host and creator of Among the Dirt and Trees—and the team blogger! She grew up with a love of all things spooky while obsessing over Investigation Discovery shows and eventually switched over to podcasts while working a boring office job in Corporate America. She has since left her corporate life behind to spend her days and nights as a freelance writer and podcaster, but she still takes time to listen to podcasts while she works. Talkocast has given her a chance to leverage her B.S. in Psychology and her love of writing to terrify the general public. You can find her writing stories, reading books, playing D&D, or doing yoga when she’s not researching cases filled with unimaginable horrors and scaring people out of their next camping trip.

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