South Yorkshire, and particularly the Dearne Valley area, suffered badly in the wave of recessions that closed both the steel and the mining industries. Wave upon wave of redundancies turned once thriving, close knit towns and villages into places worn down by poverty and rising crime.
The "Strangler" killings began in the late 90s, as efforts to regenerate the area began. Whether the killings can be related to the social upheaval caused by the recessions is, at present, a moot point. The forensic psychologist asked to give an opinion on the killer comments: this person may have had a recent experience that has released previously suppressed or partially suppressed patterns of behaviour...
Police advised women travelling in the evenings to be on their guard. However, the relatively long gaps between the killings meant that women began, as is inevitable, to relax their vigilance. The first killing was in March 1997, when young mother Lisa Griffin disappeared from Mexborough station, waiting for the train for the short journey home. The second killing occurred seven months later at the end of October, when Katherine Claremont, 20, a student at Sheffield university disappeared from the train travelling back from Hull, where she had been visiting her parents. Her body was found dumped by the line near Balby Carr, south west of Doncaster. Six months after that, at the end of April, Amanda Varney, 21, vanished on her way home from work. Her body was found where the railway crosses the A1(M), just outside Doncaster. Up to the present, that is, December 1998, there have been no further deaths.
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