It is natural, perhaps, when you are nearing the end of your life, to take stock and look back with some regrets. Whilst most people try to make peace with their families, or regret not appreciating what they have, or, perhaps even losing touch with someone close to them, some people, it seems have bigger issues to grapple with.
Confession, they say, is good for the soul, and it seems that some people find their consciences weighing heavily on them, and they often decide to unburden themselves before they go.Whilst their remorse may be said to be better late than never, the families left behind are often left having to decide what to do with these revelations after their loved one has died.
The Unidentified Man
In 2015, a 91-year-old man walked into a police station in Canada and confessed to murdering a prostitute in London 70 years earlier.
The nonagenarian, who has not been named, confessed after having been diagnosed with cancer. He told astonished police that, in 1946, he had rowed with the woman, who he claimed had cheated her out of money. Losing his temper, he pulled out a Russian World War II souvenir pistol and shot her outside the Blue Lagoon night club in Carnaby Street.
Although the pensioner could not remember the name of his victim, after checking with Scotland Yard, he was able to pick the woman’s photograph out of a line-up of unsolved murders.
His victim was Margaret Cook, who had been only 26 years old. Her death was thought to have belonged to the spate of prostitute murders that happened at the end of World War 2. Police were on the scene quickly and chased a man in a Burberry raincoat and pork pie hat through the streets of London, until he vanished in the crowds. It is not known whether this man was the man who made the confession.
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Mark Read was a notorious Australian gangster, with the nickname ‘Chopper’, who had already published an autobiography entitled ‘How to Shoot Friends and Influence People’. He had spent 23 years in jail, but he had never been convicted of murder.
The book had claimed that he was ‘involved in’ the murders of 19 people, but sometimes people have been known to exaggerate in order to make sales.
When he realized that his liver cancer was terminal, however, Mark Read decided to set the record straight.
During the interviews, which had to be carried out over 16 days due to Read’s failing health, he confessed to shooting 3 men and strangling a convicted child-killer while he was in prison.
Among his victims was the head of the Outlaws motorcycle gang Sydney Collins, who had been missing for more than 10 years. Read maintained that Collins had turned him into police after Read had shot him in the stomach during a dispute over money. Apparently, he considered the stomach shooting thing ‘petty’ and not the sort of thing that you call the cops about.
Roy Heath was a man who had always moved in dubious circles. A known associate of the legendary East End Gangsters, The Kray Twins, Heath was in the end stages of terminal cancer in 2009, when he confessed to police that he had strangled Mohammed Taki 12 years earlier.
Taki had disappeared without trace, and although 2 men were arrested in connection with his disappearance, no one was ever charged, and the case remained open. Heath revealed that he had buried Mr Taki’s remains under his patio, and on digging up Heath’s garden, police officers discovered the body wrapped in a duvet cover beneath the concrete.
Although Roy Heath was formally arrested and charged with the murder of Mohammed Taki, officers knew that there was no prospect of getting a conviction, and, indeed, Heath died less than 2 weeks later.
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In 1867, Christine Kett was found brutally murdered in her home, having been hit repeatedly with an ax. Her mother, said to be prostrate with grief, called loudly for something to be done, and when Christine’s lover was arrested, her mother, Catherine Kett, even urged her neighbors to lynch him.
Several suspects were accused of the crime, and all were subsequently cleared of any involvement. Years passed, and eventually the community in Dayton began to forget about Christine. Apart from her mother, who was, perhaps understandably, plagued by nightmares.
On her deathbed 17 years later, Catherine Kett called her remaining child to her side, and told him that she needed to get something off her chest. She told him how she had got angry when Christine stayed out all night with her boyfriend and killed her in a fit of rage. Then, she went on to tell him how she had tried to push suspicion on to the lover, and then a number of other people in order to protect herself.
When Larry Sherrard lay dying, he spoke to his niece about his life, and his regrets. And the two murders he had committed.
After he passed away, his niece went to the police to report what he had said. Sherrard claimed that he had killed the men in a drug deal gone wrong, saying, ‘They screwed me on my drugs, and I screwed them.’
The body of one of the men had been found in a cave a year after his disappearance, whilst Sherrard’s niece was able to give the location of the other body, where police found fragments of bone.