“I Feel Powerful: Murder Is Better Than Sex” Said Killer
How many victims of the 12/12 killer are still to be found?
Who is Allan Grimson
Allan Grimson served 22 years in Britain's Royal Navy, having joined in 1978, rising to the rank of Petty Officer (about PO1/E6 equivalent in the US Navy).
He is a large and strong man, 6'2" or so and quite an imposing physical presence. He is not a handsome man and his colleagues in the Navy, with typical 'robust' humor, called him 'Frank': His broad forehead, they considered, made him look like Frankenstein's Monster.
Allan Grimson is homosexual. Although there are no sexual orientation restrictions in the UK armed forces any more, there were still at the time that Grimson served. He kept his sexual orientation hidden — indeed, he would have been dismissed the service had he done otherwise — until right at the end of his time. Grimson admitted he was gay in December 1999, a month before the rule change came into force. Grimson's sexuality was no longer an issue for him, however, as he was facing charges of murder.
Amongst other postings, he had served on board HMS Illustrious, the aircraft carrier. He had also been an instructor at HMS Excellent, the Navy Fire Fighting school in Portsmouth, England (now part of HM Naval Base Portsmouth). When questioned by Police, Grimson admitted that he watched the groups of trainees who passed through his courses at Excellent for young men who would be potential victims.
How events unfolded
Police begin to investigate
Grimson had got away with his crimes for at least 13 years (by his own — later- admission, he killed Simon Parkes in 1986) Police received a tip-off in October 1999, and it was only then that they started looking at Grimson in earnest. He had been questioned before but had successfully lied his way out of trouble.
It seems that someone thought Grimson was grooming another potential victim in 1999 and decided to speak up.
Details have never been made public, but it seems that at least some other people in the Navy knew that Grimson was gay and predatory. Whilst they were less likely to be dismissed the service by this point (because of the imminent rule change), people might still have feared their pensions would be at risk, but for whatever reason, people had kept quiet until this point, and then a tip-off was given to the Police.
Although the British Government outlawed homosexuality in the British Armed Forces until the year 2000, there undeniably were gay and bisexual men and women in the services. Often some of their colleagues knew, but it was tolerated or even ignored. Some, like Grimson, were not making considerable efforts to hide their sexuality. Whilst colleagues said Grimson did not present as a gay man, some of those colleagues knew that he went to gay clubs and pubs, for example, when on deployment. Shipmates would almost certainly have seen Grimson, if not in the venues, then entering or leaving them.
Grimson was interviewed and admitted to the murder, expressly, of Wright and Jenkins. He led Police to the burial sites. He was questioned about several other disappearances but declined at that time to give any further information.
Events leading to the death of Nicholas Wright
Police uncovered that Grimson met 18-year-old Nicholas Wright on a firefighting course on which Grimson was working. Grimson told Wright that he could give him a lift home to Leicester in the British midlands, as Grimson would be travelling past that way on his way home for the weekend. Police learned that this was something he had done before.
Wright was concerned about this and asked his family if it was suspicious: Might Grimson might be gay? His family told him to be careful.
Nevertheless, Grimson and Wright were seen on a few occasions to be socialising together.
In December 1997, Grimson and Wright went back to Grimson's home after leaving a Portsmouth nightclub together.
Grimson had admitted touching and trying to kiss Wright and that Wright rebuffed him, after which he became angry and punched the teenager before hitting him with a baseball bat.
Mr Wright is alleged to have said: "Why don't you kill me?"
Grimson said "I just lost it. I hit him really hard with the baseball bat, several blows to the head, cut his throat with a carving knife and threw him in the bath."
Grimson was to tell police "It was such a feeling. I have never had that feeling. It was a feeling of power, a good feeling." He said it was "better than sex".
Grimson admitted carrying out a sex act on the body before taking a shower and going to bed.
The following day, Grimson wrapped the body of Mr Wright in black bin liners and got it into his car. He drove the 25 miles or so to the village of Cheriton, inland, away from the port, and found a spot where he could unload the body and hide it in a hedgerow.
How Sion Jenkins met his death
Grimson was drinking in the Hogshead pub in the Southsea part of Portsmouth one evening in December, almost a year after the death of Mr Wright.
Grimson spotted a barman there who, he later told police "was good looking and vulnerable". Grimson decided to take him home. That barman was Sion Jenkins, a 20-year-old, who had served for a short time in the Royal Navy.
Meeting him again outside a nightclub nearby, Grimson lured the lad home to his apartment.
Again, Grimson tried to initiate sex. Mr Jenkins attempted to resist, but the physically stronger Grimson hit him and threatened him, and they did have sex.
Reports suggest Mr Jenkins expressed a desire to leave the following morning, after spending the night in Grimson's bed. Grimson left Mr Jenkins tethered ankle and wrist to the bath, tortured but still alive. When Grimson came home again later in the day, he beat his young victim to death with the baseball bat.
Grimson subsequently told Police that he had not found these events as satisfying as the murder of Mr Wright, because he did not feel that Mr Jenkins had resisted enough.
As with Mr Wright, Mr Jenkin's body was loaded into the car and driven a similar distance into the Hampshire countryside before being dumped.
Police close in on Grimson
Police did look into Mr Wright's disappearance, and one name kept coming up as someone they should talk to: Once called in for questioning, Grimson seems to have admitted to the murder of Mr Wright quite readily. After more questioning, he also admitted to the murder of Mr Jenkins.
Grimson was to lead Police to the locations where he had dumped the bodies. No-one had discovered them in the interim.
Trial and conviction
Grimson was tried for and convicted of the two murders.
Three doctors examined Grimson before the trial and, whilst the three were not unanimous, the consensus was that he was responsible for his actions and he was fit to be tried.
At the trial, Mr Justice Cresswell told Grimson "You are a serial killer in nature if not in number. You are a highly dangerous serial killer who killed two young men in horrifying circumstances."
The judge said that Grimson must serve at least 22 years, but also recommended that he should never be released.
Because Grimson had killed his two victims on December 12, just a year apart, detectives believe there may be more victims as yet unidentified
An unsolved crime and a new investigation
Grimson had killed the two victims he stood convicted of on December 12, one year apart.
Immediately after his conviction, in April 2001, Gibraltar police were investigating a possible link between these offences and a missing persons enquiry that they still had unresolved.
A sailor called Simon Parkes, aged 18 had been serving on HMS Illustrious, the Royal Navy aircraft carrier and flagship, which had stopped at Gibraltar 15 years earlier in 1986 on her way home from a Far East deployment. Gibraltar was the last stop before reaching her home port, Portsmouth.
There were several reasons to think there could be a link:
• As well as Mr Parkes, Grimson was also serving about this ship at this time
• Mr Parks had disappeared but had not taken anything with him. His passport and his possessions were still aboard the ship. The Christmas presents he was taking home to his family were still on board.
• He had been in touch with his family. He was excited to be seeing them and his girlfriend soon. Nothing seemed to be amiss
• Shipmates last saw him on December 12
The Gibraltarian Police said, depending on what came to light, they might travel to the UK to interview Grimson.
Their investigation so far had told tracked the movements of Mr Parkes on December 12 1986. Other crewmembers had seen Mr Parkes leaving one bar, on his way to get food, and then someone matching his description was seen, apparently drunk, at a naval function nearby somewhat later.
No-one has seen him alive again since.
After initially thinking he might simply have gone 'AWOL' (absent without leave), authorities concluded that Mr Parkes might have been a victim of criminal violence.
A partial breakthrough — but the mystery is not fully solved
Grimson received appeals to talk about Simon Parkes and tell authorities what he knew and something, perhaps pleading from Mr Parkes mother who was desperate to discover the fate of her son, made him decide to speak.
He admitted murdering the teenage sailor and also burying his body on Gibraltar. Whilst he drew rough maps of the location, he has consistently refused since to give Police a specific spot, and they have not been able to find it. Police are concerned that he might be playing 'mind games' with them. It is not unknown for murders to let authorities know there are other victims but then to not reveal the location of the remains, as this means they retain some power, the very thing they often crave.
Grimson did make vague references to there perhaps being other bodies the authorities had yet to find in the same location, Trafalgar Cemetery.
Police search finds human remains
Gibraltar police confirm finding human bones during their search. These bones proved not to be Simon Parkes.
Police also speculated at this time that there could be more victims, be they sailors or others. A police source they considered there could be as anything from 11 to 20 other victims, perhaps around the world. He said, "Grimson frequented gar bars wherever he went, and it is likely he killed other young men."
Investigations continue to this day. In September 2020, Police were digging again in Gibraltar.
Police found remains of two bodies as they removed 80 tonnes of earth in their continuing search for Simon Parkes. Forensic pathologists are testing the human remains. As yet, there is nothing to say that either of these bodies is his.
Mysteries remain: How many other victims might there be? And what is the significance to Grimson of December 12?
Police are aware that Grimson will soon have served his 'tariff' of 22 years, that is the minimum term the judge said he must complete before he can apply for release. Time served on remand before his trial counts towards his 'tariff'.
Whilst the judge did also give his opinion that authorities should never free Grimson from prison, it will be for a Parole Board to consider, once Grimson has served his minimum time.
Police Operation Thornhill has examined the disappearance of other young men at ports around the world where Grimson went ashore while serving on HMS Illustrious and the Type-42 destroyer HMS Edinburgh.
Police forces and military authorities have examined Grimson's behaviour at home and abroad. Authorities have looked into crimes in the locations called at by ships on which he served.
For example, an unresolved case at the US base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean is one of those where authorities raised suspicions. A US marine went missing at the same time that a ship Grimson was on was in port.
In 1998, Grimson was on an exchange training, working with the Royal New Zealand Navy on a program of firefighting training.
Whilst he was there, a 29-year-old female Japanese immigrant, Kayo Matsuzawa, was found dead and hidden in a building to which Grimson had access. He was one of the suspects (there were others) but Police could prove nothing. Police reinvestigated the murder of Ms Matsuzawa after the Court convicted Grimson but without result and they noted that Grimson's known victims were all male.
In the UK, Police learnt that Grimson held a season ticket for the English soccer team Manchester United and travelled the country to where the club was playing 'away' games. A colleague who knew Grimson said, though, that Grimson was not attending the games: It was, a witness told Police, a cover for something else. Was Grimson looking for victims?
We may never know how many victims there are of the December 12 killer.
A chronological timeline of events
OCTOBER 5, 1959: Allan Grimson born in Beccles, Suffolk, to mum Margaret and soldier dad Michael. He is the third of four children.
1978: Grimson joins Royal Navy. He rises to the rank of Petty Officer.
December 12, 1986: Sailor Simon Parkes, 18, vanishes in Gibraltar on last stop of HMS Illustrious tour. Grimson is also on the crew.
December 12, 1997: Grimson commits a sex act with and murders sailor Nicholas Wright, 18.
December 12, 1998: He rapes and kills barman Sion Jenkins.
OCTOBER 1999: Police get a tip-off that Grimson murdered Nicholas and Sion.
DECEMBER 1999: Grimson confesses to the killings. Bodies of Nicholas Wright and Sion Jenkins both found in shallow graves, 4 miles apart, near Winchester, England (not far from Portsmouth and Grimson's apartment).
JANUARY 1, 2000: Homosexuality decriminalised in HM Forces. Witnesses now free to speak without fear of losing their careers.
MARCH 2001: Pleads guilty to murders of Nicholas and Sion and given a minimum tariff of 22 years.
END 2001: British Home Secretary increases Grimson's sentence to 25 years.
May 2002: Grimson admits that he killed Simon Parkes whilst their ship was in Gibraltar in 1986 and that he buried Simon's body there, but he refuses to say precisely where.
JUNE 2003: Police search for Simon Parkes body in Gibraltar.
2008: Court of Appeal reduce Grimson's minimum tariff back to 22 years.
November 2019: Police digging for Simon's remains at Gibraltar's Trafalgar Cemetery recover bones, but these prove not to be Simon Parkes.
September 2020: Police launch another search at the cemetery and find bodies, but the remains have not yet proved to be those of missing sailor Simon Parkes. The search continues.
October 2020: Unless more evidence can be found that ties Grimson to further crimes, he could to be released shortly, having served the time to which the Court sentenced him.