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1983: British police on trail of mass murderer

Police have launched a mass murder investigation in London after discovering human remains in drains.

They are looking for a total of 16 victims who they describe as male and probably young and homeless.

Scotland Yard has confirmed the remains of three men have been found on the premises of a terraced house in Muswell Hill, north London.

A police spokesman has named one of the dead men as Stephen Neil Sinclair, 20, of no fixed address.

A man has been arrested in connection with the bodies and is expected to be charged with murder tomorrow.

Gruesome discovery

Plumber Michael Cottran alerted the police yesterday (Wednesday) after realising the 10 inch blockage he had discovered in the drain at 23 Cranley Gardens was some kind of flesh.

New occupants of the Muswell Hill address called him out the day before to investigate a smell coming from their drain.

Mr Cottran made the gruesome discovery under a manhole cover outside the house when it was too dark to identify it properly.

Pathologist Professor David Bowen examined the tissue as a team of six police officers began searching the blue and white painted house and questioning its occupants and their neighbours.

They found two human heads inside the property and took one man away for further questioning from a neighbouring house.

The investigation - headed by Detective Chief Superintendent Geoffrey Chambers - is to be extended to 195 Melrose Avenue, Cricklewood, where police expect to find another 13 bodies.

The semi-detached house, in north-west London, was only converted into two flats last year - from single rooms and bedsitters - when builders described it as virtually derelict.

In Context
Civil servant Dennis Andrew Nilsen, 37, was charged with the murder of a homeless man - Stephen Sinclair - just after 1900GMT the next day.

Over the following days and weeks police recovered bones from about eight different bodies from the land around Melrose Avenue.

In spite of initially admitting to 16 murders Nilsen denied six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder in the Central Criminal Court in October.

Later in 1983 he was charged with 12 murders and sentenced to six life sentences.

He lured his victims - many of them gay - back to his flats from clubs and bars and strangled them in their sleep.

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