As Joanna Dennehy begins a life sentence for the killing of three men, Debbie Cameron considers the way she has been represented and reflects on the meaning of her crimes
‘I murdered three men, but it could have been worse—I could have been fat and ugly’. If this line had been spoken by a fictional character we could read it as feminist satire. But in fact the words were recorded in an English police station during an interview with Joanna Dennehy, a 32-year old woman accused of stabbing three men to death and attempting to kill two more. In court she pleaded guilty to all the charges against her, and last month she was sentenced to a whole-life term in prison.
Predictably, Joanna Dennehy’s case unleashed a tsunami of media commentary on the subject of ‘the female serial killer’. I last wrote about this mythical figure in 1996, following the trial of Rosemary West. Now, almost 20 years later, she is back in the news, and it seems there might be something new to say about her.