Colin Pitchfork: A Butcher, a Baker...a Parole Maker?
The UK's Questionable Flirtation with Freeing a Repeat Child Murderer
Colin Pitchfork was a burgeoning British serial killer, known as the first person convicted of murder based on DNA evidence, as well as being the first person caught from mass DNA screening.
He murdered 15-year-old Lynda Mann in November 1983, along a footpath known as "the Black Pad." The second victim, Dawn Ashworth, was killed in July of 1986. She was also 15 and was also killed in a footpath. Pitchfork originally eluded the DNA dragnet. How? He relied on Ian Kelly, a fellow worker at his bakery job, to adopt Pitchfork's identity to take the blood test for him. However, this effort by Colin Pitchfork was thwarted when Kelly randomly blurted out the forged test in a bar. So, ultimately, the mass screening was a success, for ever-changing forensic science and legal establishments around the globe.
More Peculiarities of the Case
1. Although Pitchfork was apparently known as a good worker, he did have a reputation for annoying his female co-workers. That alone was not enough to make him the first primary suspect, however. It was originally believed that a mentally challenged boy named Richard Buckland was "The Black Pad Killer." As a bizarre bit of circumstance, Buckland had seen one of the bodies and provided a false confession but was later cleared due to the actual DNA evidence.
2. Although his crimes were plainly sadistic and his threat to public safety is obvious, the murderer has been allowed out of prison unsupervised. While this might be justified on a deserted island environment (where he presumably couldn't harm anyone), it does not sit well with everyone to have a repeated killer in their midst. In fact, let's recall that Pitchfork is not just a rapist or murderer, but also someone who went out of his way to conceal his guilt, using a co-worker to hide his own criminality.
In other words, Colin Pitchfork is also a liar in addition to a killer. Still, as Lynda Mann's sister noted in 2019: “His window to apply again for parole is open, he could be walking free before Christmas."
In an age where sexual harassment is considered extremely horrible, one wonders how a rapist and multiple murderer can pass a full risk assessment. Lynda Mann's mother expressed similar sentiments: "He shouldn’t even be breathing and should, at least, be locked up forever."
People on Twitter aren't too happy about it, either. While social media is notorious for being a hotbed of hysteria over trivial nonsense, there are some cases where concern has more legitimacy than others. This would be one of those.
What Are the Risks of Freeing Someone Like Colin Pitchfork?
I could be accused of being a bleeding heart "liberal" type. I do believe in giving people a second chance, in general. In fact, after following true crime for so long, I am under the impression that many people could go down that darkened path and commit horrible deeds.
However, I would allow for exceptions to the rule of leniency. In this case, we knew the man was a threat before possibly being released on appeal. Given what we know about serial killers (and he is indeed a "burgeoning" serial killer), it's reasonable to think more murders could be committed after being released.
In a perfectly sane world, yes, he wouldn't risk being returned to jail for a new killing. However, we know this isn't a particularly sane world, as indicated by his crimes in the first place. In fact, there are likely parallels between Pitchfork and other serial killers we can examine in this regard. Obviously, a great example would be Ted Bundy, who, upon escaping from his cell in Colorado, fled to Florida and did the stupidest thing he could have done: He began killing again.
Yes, not only might one legitimately call Bundy evil, but he was also actually kind of stupid. His additional crimes basically led to his own demise by not controlling his murderous impulse. It was stupidity, and an addiction to murder, and it became yet another example of serial killers being unable to change, even when it was the obvious thing to do from their own vantage point. He had every reason to stop, and was hypothetically crafty enough to ultimately start a new, low-key life, due to his chameleon-like abilities. Still, he couldn't do it.
Would Colin Pitchfork prove any different? I personally doubt it. That's why, if he is to be released, it would most certainly be a danger. Plus, let's face it: Even from his point of view, what is to be gained? If he gets freed, is there absolutely no chance of him getting murdered himself? Of course not.
If he is to be released, paired with hypothetical concern for Pitchfork's own safety as well, the only sane and safe choice would be putting him on some deserted, isolated island, where he can't interact with the general public. This is not a person who is likely to be rehabilitated. This is not someone whose trial ended in a hung jury. We know what Colin Pitchfork is capable of, and it's not just baking or decorating cakes.
Check out this Youtube documentary on the case, which I'm not even being paid to include.