Joanna Dennehy: Where is the Serial Killer Now?

In 2013, a missing person case involving Kevin Lee, a property developer in Peterborough, England, led to a series of horrifying murders discovered by the Cambridgeshire Police. Three dead bodies were uncovered in ditches in and around Peterborough, rocking the denizens of the city in an event that would later be coined the Peterborough Ditch Murders. As covered in the episode titled ‘Dennehy’ in ‘World’s Most Evil Prisoners,’ the perpetrator behind these brutal murders was a 30-year-old woman, Joanna Dennehy, whose two-week killing spree led to the death of three and the injury of two others.

Joanna Dennehy Had a Troubled Foray into Motherhood

Joanna Dennehy was born in St Albans, Hertfordshire, England, to Kevin and Kathleen in August 1982. Raised in a loving household in the town of Harpenden alongside a sister, Maria, her father worked as a security guard while her mother found employment as a shop manager. She was reportedly fond of playing with dolls, make-up, and fashion in her childhood, and her parents hoped she would become a lawyer someday. Dennehy’s early years were just like any other teenager, with Kathleen stating, “She was very sensitive. If she stood on a worm or something she would be really upset if it died – she used to take them to bed with her. So she was a loving girl.” However, things began to go wrong in her mid-teens.

Dennehy began indulging in substance abuse and skipped going to school. At 15, her paths crossed with John Treanor, who was five years older than her, while she was on a stroll with her dog. Against her family’s wishes, she moved out of the house at 16 and began living in a wasteland not far from her parents’ place. They gave birth to two daughters in their home in Luton. Their relationship was rocky and frigid at the time, as Dennehy would cheat on John regularly with men and women and tell him about said encounters. Sometimes, she would leave home and return back days later.

Dennehy was struggling with motherhood, never really taking to it with any enthusiasm and admitting to friends that she never wanted kids. On the other hand, her drinking habit kept worsening. According to reports, she even instilled violence upon John a few times. The pair eventually moved to East Anglia to restart their life. For a while, the mother of two worked as a farm laborer. Unfortunately, she continued her decline into alcoholism and violence. She had even started to harm herself and refused to keep any ties with her family when her sister reached out.

While their relationship was already turbulent, John got quite petrified when Dennehy pulled a dagger from one of her boots one night and said, “I wish I could kill someone.” Fearful for his children’s safety and the aggression displayed by Dennehy, John left with their children in 2009. Following this, Dennehy’s behavior crumbled further as she drifted from place to place. To finance her drink and drug chase, the woman even delved into sex work. A year before the murders, in February 2012, she was lodged for a few days at the Peterborough City Hospital, where she was diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Joanna Dennehy Killed Three Men and Gravely Injured Two Others

In the year John and their kids left Joanna Dennehy, she relocated to Peterborough and found accommodation at a small bedsit owned by 48-year-old Kevin Lee. He was a property owner, husband, and father of two who reportedly became romantically entangled with Joanna Dennehy. It is also claimed that she helped him rough up the tenants to ensure they paid their rent on time. Lukasz Slaboszewski was a Polish national who came across Dennehy through their mutual interest in alcohol and drugs, while John Chapman was a housemate of hers, who was also an ex-veteran.

Kevin Lee

Dennehy had a coercive streak that would allow her to weave her way into the lives of men. She reportedly used her charm and flirtatious attitude to get close to and hunt the three men she had targeted as potential victims. Lee’s body was found first on March 30, 2013, in a ditch near Newborough with a black sequin dress fitted over him. The police identified humiliation as a major aspect of the murder. He was reported missing by his family just after Dennehy killed him. He and Slaboszewski were both killed in the same residency in Rolleston Garth, Peterborough, after she lured the Polish man there with text messages.

Dennehy’s main objective was to murder nine men to emulate the notoriety of Bonnie and Clyde. She planned to do this alongside her helper and friend, Gary “Stretch” Richards. The woman had met Slaboszewski a few days before killing him. The Polish national was 31-years-old and had reportedly told his friends that he was going to meet his new girlfriend, Dennehy, who took him to the Rolleston house owned by her landlord. After killing him, Dennehy stored his body in a dumpster on the premise. She repeated the same with another housemate of hers, John Chapman, who was 56-years-old, and then her landlord, Lee. She was aided by Stretch and another accomplice, Leslie Layton, in dumping the bodies in their respective ditches.

The bodies of Slaboszewski and Chapman were found together in a ditch near Thorney on April 3. Both Lee and Chapman were killed on March 29, while Slaboszewski was killed sometime between March 19 and 29. After she had committed those murders, Dennehy was fixated on indulging in more. A few days later, while driving with Stretch, to Hereford, she told him, “I want my fun… I need you to get my fun.” Joanna jumped on two random men, John Rogers and Robin Bereza, who were walking their dogs and stabbed them, stealing the dog of one. Rogers was stabbed over 40 times during the assault. Both men survived the attacks, and Dennehy was arrested on April 2, 2013, a day before the bodies of Slaboszewski and Chapman were uncovered.

Joanna Dennehy is Serving Her Life Sentence Today

In November 2013, Jonna Dennehy’s trial began at the Old Bailey in London. Contrary to the expectations of her lawyers, she pleaded guilty to all three charges of murder and the two attempted murders of the dog-walkers. Her sudden outburst was brought about by her rebellious and non-conforming streak. At one point in her trial, she said, “I don’t wanna be controlled by anybody. I don’t want to be controlled by my lawyers, by the police, by anybody.” Dennehy was seen laughing throughout the proceedings. “I have pleaded guilty, and that’s that,” she said. She was sentenced to life imprisonment with a decree that she never be released due to the premeditated nature of her murders.

After the trial, Dennehy was sent to HM Prison Bronzefeld, a female prison in Ashford, where she was held prior to her hearing. In 2018, she requested to be married to her cellmate Hayley Palmer. When they heard the authorities are trying to split them up, the two were found with slit wrists in a suicide pact. She engaged in a new relationship with another prisoner in June 2020. In 2021, Dennehy and Palmer intended to rekindle their hopes for marriage. After her release, the latter was even looking into the legal aspects regarding their official union.

However, Dennehy cut contact with Palmer sometime in late 2021, putting a full stop to their plans. She is the third woman in UK history to receive a whole life order after Myra Hindley and Rosemary West, a sentence that allows no possibility of parole. As of writing, Joanna Dennehy is serving her sentence in HM Low Newton Prison at Low Newton, Finchale Avenue located in Brasside, County Durham, England, where she was transferred in 2019.

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