The Island of Jersey, a self-governing and British Crown dependency in the English Channel, is a small island with around 98,000 people.

For the most part, it has been a pretty quiet place, with a possible exception during the 14 years when a beast terrorized it.

This was the story of Edward Paisnel, notoriously known as the Beast of Jersey, who preyed on women and children while hiding his face under a horror-inspired mask.

His unique criminal pattern with a touch of dark occultism brought about fear and trembling fright all across the island. Long before Jersey became known as a tax haven, it was home to Paisnel.

Between 1957 and 1971, Paisnel allegedly attacked more than 100 people and sexually assaulted at least 13 victims on the island.

He nicknamed himself the “Beast of Jersey” in a letter he sent to the police in 1966, bragging about his “perfect crime” and challenging the authorities to capture him.

It would be five more years until he was arrested in an unrelated incident and brought to justice for his crimes.


10 /10 Evolving Method

Four of his first victims were all women attacked at bus stops.

Paisnel stalked them in the middle of the night, slung a rope around their necks, tied them up, then dragged them to remote fields where he beat and raped the victims.

He grew more brazen over the years, especially given the slow-pace investigation around the case.

Instead of targeting his next victims on the streets, he invaded their homes at night before taking them to a secluded area and sexually assaulting them.

9 /10 Robin Hood

Before his reign of terror as the Beast of Jersey began, Paisnel had been imprisoned during World War II by the Germans for theft.

He played his version of Robin Hood back then by stealing food from the rich then giving it to the poor in the community.

Perhaps such criminal history was what made him extremely familiar with the territory as a beast. His hunting ground was pretty small anyway, an island of 45.6 square miles total area with only one town.


8 /10 Signature Mask

Even before Paisnel began wearing his signature costume consisting of a scary rubber mask, spiked wig, collar, and coat to conceal his identity from the victims, he had added more profiles into his targets list.

Not only did he rape women, but also young boys too. Sometimes he didn’t even bother taking the victims outside.

Paisnel was known to drop false hints such as speaking Irish accent or asking for cigarettes. In reality, he was neither Irish nor a smoker, leading the investigation away from him.


7 /10 Musty Odor

If there was one thing the victims could recognize in him, it was his smell. The attacker was known from the first cases to have a noticeable musty odor.

After gathering information from multiple victims, the police believed that the descriptions of the attacker pointed to a single individual.

Despite slight changes in method and attack locations, most elements of every incident remained the same such as rope around the neck, the unique odor, and the mask.

By the end of 1959, investigators knew they were dealing with a serial rapist.

6 /10 Voluntary Fingerprints

Newspapers published a description in the hope of encouraging the public to provide any information that might lead the investigation in the right direction.

The police even requested every man on the island to submit fingerprints for reference.

Since the request couldn’t be made legally mandatory, the police could only obtain the data from willing volunteers. A total of 13 men opted out; Paisnel was one of them.

However, investigators had no evidence to consider the men suspects, let alone probable cause to make an arrest. Refusing to volunteer did not break the law.


5 /10 Alphonse Le Gastelois

A local fisherman and farmworker named Alphonse Le Gastelois was arrested because the police thought he was the beast. Gastelois was a bit of an eccentric man, but he had a physical description that resembled the description of the actual attacker.

The police soon released him for the lack of evidence, although it did not change public opinion over the wrong suspect. His house was burnt down to the ground.

Fearing for his life, Gastelois left the island and settled in the Écréhous, islands about 6 miles away from Jersey.

4 /10 Taunting Letter

Like many serial killers, the Beast of Jersey wanted the police to look for him and failed. He seemed to enjoy knowing that investigators were frustrated over his true identity.

In 1966, he sent a letter to the police challenging them to identify and arrest him and threatening to take another victim in the following months to see if the police were smart enough to take the necessary precautions.

Although it remains unclear if Paisnel did write the letter, a 15-year-old girl was raped in August 1966.

3 /10 An Arrest, Finally

Local police eventually arrested Paisnel. Although the arrest was for an unrelated violation, the detectives linked him to the rape cases.

Approaching midnight on July 10, 1971, Paisnel was pulled over by police because he was driving like a maniac. He was speeding, hitting other cars, jumping traffic lights, and at some points going through a tomato field.

Once he was stopped, the police noticed his weird-looking costume. Police officers also found the beast’s mask in his raincoat.


2 /10 Positive Identification

Paisnel initially tried to downplay his resemblance to the beast, telling the police he was going to an orgy somewhere.

As the police were under mounting pressure to make progress in the case, they were determined to look deeper into the reckless driver’s identity.

When the police searched Paisnel’s home, they found strange artifacts and altars seemingly related to satanic rituals.

Several creepy costumes were hidden inside a secret musty-smelling room too. Based on the evidence, Paisnel was charged with 13 rape, sodomy, and indecent assaults.

1 /10 Model Prisoner

At the end of the trial on November 29, 1971, the jury took less than 40 minutes to give a guilty verdict on all charges.

He was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment and sent to Winchester prison to serve his time.

In September the following year, he appealed to overturn his conviction and was denied. Paisnel was released early in 1991 for being a model prisoner.

After a brief return to Jersey following the release, he was forced to leave the island by the public and found refuge in the Isle of Weight until he died in 1994.

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