Home Killer Briefs Joanna Dennehy – “The Peterborough Ditch Murders”

Joanna Dennehy – “The Peterborough Ditch Murders”

Meet one of the most dangerous women in the United Kingdom. A woman with a Vendetta against men, her life in prison is as gruesome as her life on the outside.

Young Joanna Dennehy was so timid and sweet she slept with worms. Odd? Yes. But as her mother, Kathleen, recalls, little Joanna was brimming with concern for the helpless things of this world. So spread out was her budding empathy that it managed to encompass the creepy and the crawly. Even worms.

Joanna Dennehy with her daughter
Photo Credit: Daily Express

As an adult, Joanna’s nurturing tendencies were eclipsed by ravenous impulses to wreak havoc and, eventually, draw blood. She enlisted the help of her young daughter to toss stones at passing cars. She mocked and terrorized other mothers with glee. And in 2013, she stabbed three men until they were dead, and injured two others.

Today, we remember this atrocity as the Peterborough Ditch Murders.

Ironically, Joanna Dennehy once dreamed of being a lawyer. Now she languishes behind cold steel bars at Old Bailey. Still trembling from the aftershock of her crimes, residents of Peterborough and citizens of the world wondered: how did the woman wielding the knife come to such a wicked end?

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Not Just Another Pretty Face

Shortly after the crimes, one photo of Joanna circulated widely. In it, she is holding a massive, medieval-looking knife. Its jagged, carved blade inches from her face, Joanna extends her tongue toward the knife in seeming ecstasy.

Some believe killers are born bad. Others say they are helpless souls, flattened by trauma, rejection, and disappointment too brutal to bear. Still others argue that media violence poisons the mind, drenching it in unmitigated, abject evil.

Joanna Dennehy holding a massive, medieval-looking knife
Photo Credit: Film Daily

The debate rages on: are madmen born or made?

Little Girl Lost

At the tender age of fifteen, Joanna Dennehy ran away from home and never returned. Her mother described Joanna as “sensitive,” a gentle girl who loved to play hockey and netball. But a child’s innocence and empathy were soon swallowed by the defiance and disdain of a brooding teen. Alcohol and drugs seemed to awaken a savage beast, one that never relinquished its death-grip on young Joanna Dennehy.

Joanna grew up near St. Albans, Hertfordshire. As a child, she lived with her mother, father, and sister, Maria. As for nurture, Joanna’s home seemed stable and warm, with none of the telltale signs of abuse, neglect, or trauma. But Joanna was drawn to trouble early on, gravitating toward criminal acquaintances and extensive drug abuse.

Joanna and her romantic relationship with John Treanor
Photo Credit: Daily Mirror

Just before she ran away, at fifteen and technically still a child, Joanna entered into a romantic relationship with John Treanor after meeting him in the park. The two met innocently enough when John was walking his dog. Joanna reportedly raced over and exclaimed, “I love dogs!” They made plans to meet up later, and a twelve year, on and off, relationship was born.

The pair would later have to two children. Over the course of their tumultuous relationship, Joanna slipped into heavy, relentless drug abuse and lost herself in a world of chemical-induced madness.

Drawing Blood

Joanna’s blood-soaked crime spree at the age of thirty was neither unexpected nor random. From an early age, she resorted to self-harm and cutting as a means of release. In particular, Joanna focused on carving up her stomach with a razor blade. Shockingly, Joanna’s self-harm later evolved into homicidal aggression and unspeakable carnage.

Joanna’s frequent foray in to physical mutilation accompanied unhinged ranting aimed at her mother. Hatred and blood were mixing in young Joanna Dennehy’s DNA. Just one year prior to the crimes, Joanna was diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder, placing her in the gruesome company of Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy. And like her fellows in chaos Dahmer and Bundy, Dennehy seemed to show no remorse for the pain she inflicted—on herself or others.

Young Love Interrupted

Whatever first attracted John Treanor to Joanna expired. After a few years together, John grew tired of Joanna’s manipulation and abuse. By his account, she was volatile, dangerous, and unrepentant. When he took the children and left, Joanna found herself homeless and destitute.

In her desperation, Joanna resorted to petty theft, which landed her in jail. She underwent a psychological evaluation, during which she exhibited underlying psychopathic traits like impulsivity and rage. She was placed on anti-psychotic medication.

When she was released, Joanna managed to peel herself away from the seedy street life she had inherited and rented a room from forty-eight-year-old Kevin Lee.

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A Doomed Arrangement

As a landlord, Kevin Lee often required assistance in collecting rents and outstanding debts. Always game for confrontation, his new tenant, Joanna, volunteered as Lee’s muscle. This tiny foray into authority and responsibility elevated Joanna to a false sense of superiority and control. Things were looking up, so Joanna ditched her anti-psychotic meds.

Joanna Dennehy Making Weird Pose
Photo Credit: Telegraph

Joanna and Kevin entered into a sexual relationship. But intimacy with Joanna never did bode well for the men in her life. While stabbing someone in the heart is a well-worn metaphor, Lee was about to see the lyrical come to life.

The Crimes

It all happened so quickly. There was no argument, no debt, no vendetta. One by one, Joanna Dennehy systematically ensnared three men and expunged their life-force. Shockingly, she seemed to do it all, as they say, for kicks.

On March 19, 2013, Lucas Slaboszewski, enticed by the hope of a romantic connection, found himself in Joanna’s apartment. The two shared a meal and a few cocktails before Joanna playfully encouraged Lucas to be a good sport and don a blindfold. Once he did, Joanna stabbed him straight through the heart.

Unable to dispose of the body alone, Joanna enlisted the services of her gargantuan friend, Gary “Stretch” Richards. Richards jumped at the chance to help Dennehy, her magnetism intoxicating him even in the depths of depravity.

Several days after dumping Lucas’s body in a Peterborough ditch, Joanna landed on a neighbor’s doorstep bearing the always-welcome gift of free liquor. Unlucky man that he was, John Chapman was Joanna’s second victim. He was stabbed in the chest six times and unceremoniously dumped in the very same ditch as Lucas Slaboszewski.

Joanna Dennehy Making News After Killing
Photo Credit: Press Reader

Joanna saved Kevin for last. The day after brutally murdering John, Joanna called on Kevin to join her at home for drinks and company. After stabbing him in the heart, Joanna curiously placed Kevin in a sequined black dress. Perhaps it was control. Perhaps humiliation. Whatever the reason, Kevin was the last brutalized corpse tossed in to the Peterborough ditch.

In a state of what some might call blood-lust, Joanna carried out two final crimes. Seemingly at random, she assaulted two lone men on the same day. Both were walking their dogs alone when Joanna seized the opportunity to exact her misplaced wrath with a knife.

Joanna plunged the knife into her second dog-walking victim thirty times. Miraculously, both, Robin Bereza and Joh Rogers, survived. They were able to describe Dennehy to the police and expedite her arrest.

The Most Dangerous Woman In The UK

There was little defense for Joanna Dennehy. The final nail in her coffin was her inability to conjure a morsel of remorse for the horror and confusion she had brought about.

Joanna Dennehy Earning the Title “whole life tariff”
Photo Credit: Bustle

A journal entry discovered in Joanna’s cell revealed that her plans for violent exploitation were very much alive. Ever ambitious, Joanna was plotting to sever the finger of a guard and use the mangled digit to bypass the prison’s biometric system.

In the UK, only three women throughout history have earned a “whole life tariff.”

Joanna Dennehy is one of the three.

Want more spine-chilling stories? Get our most shocking and horrific stories sent straight to your inbox, sign up for True Crime Seven’s newsletter and you can also receive a FREE copy of “The Briley Brothers” today.

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