An Occult Crime Watch Preview…
The quaint Isle of Jersey in the English Channel is known for being closer to France than any other part of the UK, as well as its unique Norman-French dialect, picturesque apple orchards and famous cattle. This idyll setting for a cozy mystery story would become the backdrop for the most gritty of crimes. Throughout the 1960’s the community was terrorized by a series of violent abductions and sexual assaults. On moonlit nights a man wearing a crude homemade latex mask stalked the rural lanes between the small villages and isolated cottages. Each of his victims endured repeated brutal assaults to satisfy the masked man’s sadistic urges. The first victim to report her assault, a young woman who was waiting for a bus, gave the police a horrific account of the modus operandi of a uniquely formulaic predator…
For over a decade young women and children lived with the fear they might become the next victim of this depraved phantom. The living nightmare only ended by happenstance when constables witnessed a car run a red light and gave chase. After the speeding vehicle crashed into a field the officers ran down and arrested the driver before he could escape on foot. In the fugitive’s car the police discovered the infamous latex mask, binding cords, and other accouterments described by the victims of the small island’s most wanted man. Claiming he was late for a costume party, the man protested his innocence as the increasingly damning evidence piled up against him.
Edward Paisnel, the so-called “Beast of Jersey” was an odd but generally respected member of the island’s community. A proprietor of a construction firm, Paisnel attempted to use his social standing to escape accountability for his crimes. However, a search of his house discovered a secret room containing further evidence of his guilt as well as his ritualistic motives. At trial he was convicted on 13 counts, but it is believed an unknown number of other victims never came forward and he made contradictory confessions obscuring the full extent of his crimes.
Paisnel was often labeled a “Satanist” by newspapers and the prosecution, but he disavowed that charge. He serves as an example of an “occultist” whose crimes fit the general profile of Satanic ritual abuse, but the details are too vague to support that conclusion. While highly ritualistic in nature, and motivated by a religious delusion inspired by a belief in Black Magic, Paisnel emphatically denied he was a Satanist. Instead he claimed he was compelled by an intergenerational curse passed down through his family line from the notorious aristocratic child-killer, Gilles de Rais. Putting aside whether the genealogical claim is valid, court appointed psychiatrists suggested he was merely a sexual fetishist whose religious delusions were a rationale for his sadistic impulses.
However, it is impossible for us to know with any certainty to why Paisnel became the Beast of Jersey. The ritualistic formula of his crimes was undeniably rooted in his clandestine magical practice, but the catalog of items recovered from his secret altar is scant: a chalice, a ceremonial sword, and a library of “books about the black magic, Satanism, and the occult.” As well as a collection of photographs and trophies proving he had been stalking his victims carefully planning their abductions. However, because most victims were children, privacy laws on the Isle of Jersey make it next to impossible to read the complete records of his case. Paisnel served 30 years for his crimes and after his release from prison moved to the Isle of Wight where he died in 1994.
Within the case of Edward Paisnel there are clues of larger more disturbing criminal conspiracies…
Read the full 1,180 word case study on Patreon
This is the sort of crime that truly scares me. Being brutally attacked by a violent sexual predator wearing a mask. Just picturing it, I imagine myself already having nightmares about it.
Yes, this case is uniquely disturbing. Even this heavily censored version has enough frightening details to pester the imagination. An interesting bit of trivia that didn’t make it into the full length edit: Edward Paisnel inspired John Carpenter with the idea of using a masked stalker as the villain in “Halloween”. Thank you for commenting, I hope it doesn’t really give you nightmares!
Luckily, it didn’t give me nightmares. I already have my fair share. Also, I did not know that; I had no idea that Edward Paisnel inspired John Carpenter with the use of a mask in Halloween.
I’m glad it didn’t give you nightmares. Sometimes this research sticks with me when I’m trying to unwind, although I don’t have trouble with nightmares. Apparently that was what happened to John Carpenter after he read newspaper reports about Paisnel’s trial in the early 70’s. The bucolic setting juxtaposes so well with the masked stalker. Although this might be one case where the reality was more horrifying that the fiction.
I am almost too embarrassed to say this, but I had not heard of The Beast of Jersey until I read your article. This is the sort of horror that is so terrible that you don’t want to look, but so intriguing that you can’t look away.
Nothing to be embarrassed about, Vera. Many of the cases we profile here are somewhat obscure. Few communities want their names associated with their worst criminals. But, horrific as it is, we do this work because it is so fascinating. Thanks for commenting.
I do like the more obscure cases, so I am glad I came across this. After a little reading, I can see that his wife wrote a book. As far as I can tell, there is also a film based on the events surrounding this case. Have you either read or watched these before?
Vera, Joan Paisnel’s book is rather expensive and quite poorly reviewed. The consensus of those who have read it indicates she was only interested in presenting herself as the primary victim. It seems the publishers wanted her to lean in on the Beauty and The Beast narrative frame for marketing purposes. Worse, however, the book endorses the debunked theory that homosexuality is a mental illness; and, that the true motive for her husband’s crimes was his struggle with that mental illness. So, not a source I have any use for. The movies are so fictionalized I haven’t bothered with them.
My goodness, that book sounds terrible. I only heard mention of it, so I was curious. I also watched a YouTube trailer for the movie. It seemed so disjointed from the true crime story that I had to actually check I was looking at the right thing.
Yes. It is unfortunate. Particularly because these fictionalized stories obscure the truth about the actual crimes. As with so many of these cases, we will probably never know the full story.
I completely understand what you mean. Turning heinous crimes into a film for entertainment is hardly going to relay the true facts behind the actual crime.