UK’s eyeball killer: Try not to look away from this terrible true crime case
It’s a sick world out there when it comes to true crime, folks. A world where we have to specify which eyeball killer we are referring to. Today, we’ll be talking about the British version. The line for the article about the Texas Eyeball Killer is across the street.
Now, when you think “eyeball killer” . . . well, first you’re grossed out (hopefully). Next, you’ll understandably expect for lots of eyeballs to be injured in this true crime story. Let’s adjust those expectations right away: the UK eyeball killer only had two victims. But before you go off thinking that’s not too bad, you might want to check with James Attfield & Nahid Almanea.
Oh, that’s right, you can’t. Because they were brutally murdered by the UK eyeball killer.
Colchester, what a nice place
The murders of James Attfield & Nahid Almanea took place in Colchester, Essex, in 2014 – that’s why this case is also known as “the 2014 Colchester murders” among true crime enthusiasts. The first incident took place on March 29th and the second one a few months later, on June 17th.
Attfield was a thirty-three-year-old father of five, who had the terrible idea to lie down on the grass one night after drinking a little too much. That’s where the eyeball killer found him and viciously stabbed him over a hundred times with a knife. Attfield’s wounds were so gruesome the BBC actually decided against describing the details of the crime. We know he was stabbed in one eye during the attack, though.
Attfield was still alive when the police found him, but he died while they were trying to help him. Nahid Almanea, on the other hand, was found already dead. The eyeball killer attacked her by overgrowth near her home, stabbing her in the abdomen and the eyes, which led to her brain also being wounded. She was thirty-three when she died, and being in her thirties was the only thing she had in common with James Attfield.
The police interviewed over nine hundred potential witnesses over the following year. The lack of commonalities between Attfield & Almanea – a white British man killed at night, a Saudi Muslim woman killed during the day – spurred the theory that there could be two killers on the loose. Almanea’s religion also made the police consider the possibility that her murder could be a hate crime.
In the end, it all turned out to be horrifyingly simpler. There was only one killer, and he didn’t have any sort of grand design behind the murders. The police had even interrogated him once, as part of the investigation, since he had been in trouble before for stealing cigars at knifepoint. His name was James Fairweather, he was fifteen, and he initially struck the cops as fairly unremarkable.
Fairweather was caught thanks to a potential third victim noticing him acting weird. On May 27th, Michelle Sadler was out walking her dog when she spotted the killer creeping about near the area where Nahid Almanea had been killed. Sadler called the police, who detained Fairweather after finding a knife on him. The killer was also wearing rubber-gripped gloves. His behavior added up to paint him as a prime suspect.
Once James Fairweather was arrested, the ensuing interviews & investigation shed light on how troubled the teenager was. The psychiatrist who assessed him said Fairweather described some of the “most antisocial and violent thoughts” he’d come across in his career. The kid claimed he heard voices telling him to set babies on fire and silence prostitutes by pulling their tongues out.
A police search of Fairweather’s bedroom revealed he was a true crime fan. In addition to a DVD about the Yorkshire Ripper, he also owned a book called The World’s Worst Crimes. This led investigators to wonder if Fairweather was putting on a show, emulating serial killers who’d successfully plead insanity once they were caught. In the end, however, it didn’t matter.
Even though a number of psychiatrists during Fairweather’s trial deemed his claim of hearing voices credible, he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of twenty-seven years. An appeal to reduce the sentence on the grounds of his age and mental functions – he was found to be mildly autistic – was rejected. The judge said linking his condition to the crimes would be a slur against autistic people.
And so we close the book on another true crime tale. Would it surprise you to learn that James Fairweather told the police he stabbed Nahid Almanea in the eyes so she couldn’t “see evil”? He didn’t have anything to say about James Attfield’s eye though. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!