Road Serial Killer
man / Fisherman
Tyler - 32
Ellen Spencer - 44
Burkitt was a fisherman who
lived in Kingston-upon-Hull, in the north east of
England. He was the eldest of nine children born to Mary
Ann and William Burkitt Sr, His father died at age 35 in
1901, this had a huge impact on Burkitt.
Burkitt appeared in court and was ordered to pay for an
illegitimate child. The following month he was called
back to court, having ignored the courtís demands.
1914, Burkitt was
arrested on several occasions for being drunk and
Burkitt was enlisted during the First World War to work
as a mine sweeper as so many from the Hull and Grimsby
area did. His service started well but he went on to
desert from two ships, the HMS Hero and HM Trawler Dinas.
5th November 1914, Burkitt's ship, HMS Hero, had
docked in Dover. Instead of staying with the trawler
ship, as his crew did, he left and escaped from the
docks, he made his way to the railway station where he
travelled back to his hometown of Hull on the train.
The incident was his first case of desertion, and he was
brought before the Hull Police Courts and ordered to pay
costs. He was then collected by the Navy after being
sentenced, and then sent back out to sea.
April 1915, 5-months later, he appeared in
court in Hull for a second time, charged with deserting
the HM trawler Dinas at Dover.
The offence saw Burkitt remanded for 10 days, before he
was found guilty and fined yet again. Burkitt did not go
back to sea, and instead started working on Hullís
Soon after, Burkitt began a
relationship with married, Mrs. Mary Ann Tyler, known as
Polly, and the two startd a turbulent on/off
28th August 1915,
after a volatile few months, and In the heat of an
argument over a photograph of Burkitt with another
woman, he picked up a knife, put it to her throat and
stabbed her to death.
The body of married woman Mrs
Tyler was found with several severe throat wounds and
was found after Burkitt admitted to his mother that he
had killed her, even taking his mother to the house to
show her the corpse.
23rd November 1915, he appeared before a court in
York Castle charged with murder of his mistress,
Mrs Mary (Polly) Tyler, Burkitt said during the trail
that they argued over a photo, he stabbed her several
The jury retired for just an hour, and found Burkitt
guilty of manslaughter, the judge Justice Atkin
sentenced him to twelve yearsí imprisonment.
23rd November 1924,, Burkitt was released from
prison after nine years and set up house with another
married women, this tine it was, Ellen Spencer.
3rd November 1925, Ellen's daughter Matilda,
arrived to visit her mother, she got no answer, and
after a neighbour helped break the door down, they found
Ellen Spencer dead on the floor with stab wounds to her
The police were called, on arrival the police smelt gas,
and on further investigation found the gas was on, and
Burkitt was asleep, but unharmed upstairs, apparently an
attempt to gas himself.
20th November 1925, Burkitt was back at the
courts in York Castle charged with murder. He claimed
she had frightened him when waking him up and he had
lashed out not realising who it was. Again the jury only
found him guilty of manslaughter and this time he was
given ten years by Judge Justice Fraser.
15th August 1935, Burkitt was released from
This time he set up home with Mrs Emma Brookes. His new
partner survived with him for almost four years.
1st March 1939, he arrived unexpectedly at his
sisterís house. He stood there foaming at the mouth and
he told his sister that he had taken six hundred
aspirins. The tablets did not seem to have been having
the desired effect so Burkitt left his sisterís and
jumped into the River Humber. He was fished out and
taken to hospital.
The police were informed of Burkittís actions and they
went to check out his home. There they found the body of
Mrs Brookes, she had been strangled.
17th May 1939, This time the venue was a court in
Leeds. It must have been almost incomprehensible to the
judge, who knew of Burkittís history, when the jury
returned a guilty to manslaughter verdict for the third
time. This time though Burkitt was not so lucky in his
sentence as he was given penal servitude for life by
13th May 1954, he was released from Dartmoor
prison as an act of mercy due to being very ill. He was
admitted to Hull's Royal Infirmary hospital,
24th December 1956.
Burkitt died while in hospital aged 69.