The case of Neville George Clevely Heath was one of a series of famous post-1945 murder cases that occurred in the UK.
On 21 June 1946 the body of a film extra called Margery Aimeé Brownell Gardner, aged 32, was found in a Notting Hill Gate hotel room. She had been badly mutilated on both her body and sexual organs. Her cause of death was suffocation. Margery Gardner's body lay on its back, her right arm underneath her body. Both ankles were tied tightly together, and her wrists had been bound. Her face was bruised, as if she had been hit by a clenched fist. The room was also bloodstained.
This room had previously been reserved in the names of Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs. Heath. Neville Heath was well known to the police, as he had a borstal record and additionally he had been tried by courts-martial for wearing uniforms and decorations that he was not entitled to.
Posing as Group Captain Rupert Brooke, Heath met Miss Doreen Marshall, aged 21, at a Bournemouth Hotel on 3 July 1946. After they had dinner, they left the hotel after midnight. After not being seen for two days, the Hotel's Manager reported their absence to the local police.
Heath then went to a police station, posing as Group Captain Brooke, and asked if they had a picture of the missing lady. Due to his previous record, Heath was recognised and arrested. Among his belongings left at Bournemouth West Rail Station, were a bloodstained scarf and a metal-tipped whip.
On 8 July 1946, Doreen Marshall's naked body (aside from her left shoe) was found in Branksome Chine, lying in some bushes. Her throat had been cut, and she had been sexually assaulted and savagely mutilated. No knife was found, nor was any of Doreen Marshall's blood found on Heath's clothes. It is thought that Heath stripped naked before attacking Doreen Marhsall, afterwards washing himself in the sea where he also discarded the knife.
Heath's trial for the murder of Margery Gardner started on 24 September 1946 at the Old Bailey before Mr Justice Morris. The Prosecution case was led by Mr E.A. Hawke and Heath was defended by Mr J.D. Casswell. Heath did not take the witness box, as his counsel thought that his detached manner would not lend itself to his attempts to show that Heath was insane under the McNaghten Rules, and so must be found guilty but insane. However, two prison doctors testified that Heath was a sadist, a sexual pervert and a psychopath. However, he was judged to be sane although abnormal.
After the 3 day trial at London's Old Bailey, the jury (which included 1 women) found Heath guilty and he was sentenced to death. Heath did not appeal his conviction and he was hanged at Pentonville Prison on 16 October 1946.
Psychiatrists are aware that there exists a behavior known as "clinical vampirism," which is a syndrome involving the delusion of actually being a vampire and feeling the need for blood. This arises not from fiction and film but from the erotic attraction to blood and the idea that it conveys certain powers, although the actual manifestation of the fantasy may be influenced by fiction. It develops through fantasies involving sexual excitement.
"The first stage," Noll explains, "is some event that happens before puberty where the child is excited in a sexual way by some event that involves blood injury or the ingestion of blood. At puberty it becomes fused with sexual fantasies, and the typical person with Renfield Syndrome begins with autovampirism. That is, they begin to drink their own blood and then move on to other living creatures. That's what we know from the few cases we have on record. It has fetishistic and compulsive components."
Someone who seemed to have this syndrome was Neville Heath, 29, England's "Gentleman Vampire." During the 1940s, he would pose as an army officer to lure women to hotel rooms. On June 20, 1946, a cabdriver saw Heath in the company of Margery Gardner, 33, who was found murdered the next day. She'd been suffocated and whipped unmercifully by something with a metal tip. Her nipples were bitten off and she'd been brutally raped with a blunt instrument. While her body was covered in blood, her face was clean, although blood was in her nostrils.
Since Heath had signed his name to the hotel register for that room, the police went right away to question him. But he was already on the run.
He checked into another hotel at a seaside town and hung out there for two weeks, posing as a war hero. He met Doreen Marshall, 21, and escorted her for an evening stroll on July 4. She then turned up missing. Five days later, her nude body was found in some bushes. She'd been cut up with a knife and sexually violated.
Oddly enough, Heath went to the police to offer his help. He feigned innocence in the case of Doreen Marshall and said that his name was not Neville Heath, but the police detained him so they could search some of his belongings. They found a braided whip that matched the patterns found on the first murdered woman. Heath also had in his possession a blood-soaked scarf that matched her blood type. Another one turned up in his drawer at the seaside hotel and that was matched to Doreen Marshall's blood type.
Further investigation into his military record and personal history indicated that he'd participated in several incidents of sadistic behavior with women, although he was ever the gentleman with his naïve fiancé.
Arrested and tried for murder, Heath wanted to mount an insanity defense, but while the psychiatrists believed he was sadistic and perverted, they could not say that he was legally insane. Found guilty, he was sentenced to be executed.While Heath may not have actually drunk blood from his victims (although there's speculation that he licked it off Margery Gardner's face), his possession of the blood-soaked handkerchiefs, along with the predatory and compulsive nature of his crimes, would qualify him for consideration as a clinical vampire.