Little is more abhorrent than a killer who roams a city’s streets preying on vulnerable young women to satisfy his own egotistical and perverted desires. One such man is Levi Bellfield. Born in London in 1968, he is currently serving multiple life sentences in Wakefield Prison in West Yorkshire, England, for a series of horrific crimes against women. Crimes which he still revels in today, trying to torment his victims’ families and toy with police revealing snippets of information on his own twisted timeline.
He is one of the few individuals in the United Kingdom who will never be released from his prison cell and whose crimes and actions have appalled even the most experienced of investigators. This is a man with no moral boundaries and when those limits are not in place, it results in a very dangerous individual. When we talk of evil, Levi Bellfield is a name high up on the list.
Bellfield grew up with three siblings and a number of step-brothers and sisters on a council estate in West London. His father died when he was 8-years-old leaving his care to his overbearing mother labelled the ‘family matriarch’, Jean Bellfield. From a Romany gypsy background, both mother and son were proud of their roots and his mother’s strong pride gave Bellfield a feeling that he was superior to others, a belief he carried with him and developed into arrogance as he grew older.
He came to the attention of police as soon as he hit his teenage years with car thefts, carrying offensive weapons, credit card fraud and driving offences being among his list of arrests and convictions. He left school at 16-years-old and soon utilized his large build to become a doorman at nightclubs across West London. He is believed to have attracted woman through charm and gifts but once that initial romance was over he would turn, becoming controlling, jealous and abusive.
Police have a dossier of evidence against Levi Bellfield for numerous attacks on young women who were drugged and raped, however, none of the evidence was ever strong enough to convict him and take him off the streets. He was known to have a separate flat near to his home which he kept empty and for the sole purpose of taking intoxicated girls back to after he had drugged them. One former friend described him as “some kind of animal” after Bellfield invited him to join in his sexual attacks on young women. He has eleven children by five different women and has been a regular visitor to prostitutes for most of his life. He later ran a company that dealt with wheel-clamping in and around West Drayton in London, ensuring he knew the streets in the area well.
“When we started dealing with him he came across as very jokey, like he’s your best mate. But he’s a cunning individual, violent. He can switch from being nice to being nasty, instantly.”
The Murder of Milly Dowler
The number of women this man has attacked, abused and raped is unknown. He actively hunted victims, purposely targeting blonde women who he seemed to have a particular hatred for. On 21 March 2002, schoolgirl Milly Dowler phoned her dad to tell him she was on her way home after meeting friends in a café after school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. 13-year-old Milly can be seen on CCTV taking her usual route home along a main road but then she simply disappears. There are no further sightings of her, no witnesses who can tell police what happened and Milly Dowler’s parents never saw their daughter again.
Reported missing at 7 pm that evening, a missing person’s search was launched which turned nationwide within hours. This was a bright and happy young girl who didn’t just not come home; she didn’t have a habit of running away and would never have worried her family like this by not telling them where she was. Police knew early on that something sinister had happened to Milly Dowler but they had no idea what that was and at whose hand.
For six long months desperate attempts to find Milly were undertaken with organised searches, TV appeals, press conferences and an offer of £100’000 for any information on her whereabouts. On the 18 September 2002, the body of a young girl was found in woods in Yately in Hampshire around 25 miles away from Milly Dowler’s home. The worst fears of everyone involved in this case were realised when the body was positively identified as that of Milly Dowler. Her clothes and possessions were missing and due to decomposition, a post-mortem was unable to establish a definitive cause of death.
Her case was officially turned into a murder investigation by Surrey Police. Some very sick individuals made repeated contact with the Dowler family claiming to have killed the young girl, threatening to kill her mother and pretending to be Milly Dowler herself. One man was already in prison for an indecent assault on a young girl, another was charged and jailed and a third, who had bombarded police with claims Milly have been smuggled out of the country to Poland where she was to be a prostitute, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
For the following seven years police continue to investigate Milly Dowler’s murder but get no closer to finding her killer. A red Daewoo Nexia car becomes key to the inquiry after being captured on CCTV on the road where she went missing but attempts to trace the car hit a dead end.
The ‘Bus-Stop’ Killer
On 3 February 2003, 19-year-old Marsha McDonnell, a student on a gap year, was found barely alive in the street after she had been attacked on her way home from an evening out with friends. She had just got off a bus in Hampton, southwest London and died the following day at the hospital. She had been hit over the head in a vicious attack leaving her with multiple head injuries in the 15 minutes between leaving the bus and being found at 12.30am. Police had few leads to go on and struggled to determine exactly what had happened to this young girl and why.
The following year on 18 May 2004, 18-year-old Kate Sheedy had just got off the bus on her way home after being out with friends in Twickenham, when she was approached by a white Toyota Previa people carrier which revved its engine and drove straight at her. She was knocked over by the car and driven over multiple times with the driver reversing the vehicle to drive over her again before driving off at speed. Kate Sheedy managed to get to her phone and dial for the emergency services as she lay in the road with serious injuries. Sheedy survived the attack and was able to give her account of what had happened to police.
Just three months later, a French student visiting the UK, 22-year-old Amelie Delagrange, was smashed over the head from behind as she walked through Twickenham Green on 19 August 2004. She didn’t even see her attacker before her vision clouded and she lost consciousness. She, like Marsha McDonnell and Kate Sheedy, had just got off a bus before she was attacked. She was found with serious head injuries and died soon afterward. Police linked the three attacks as being carried out by the same person with the press soon labelling this individual the ‘Bus Stop’ killer.
After the murder of Amelie Delagrange in 2004, Levi Bellfield’s car was discovered to have been in the area at the time of both her murder and the murder of Marsha McDonnell. Further investigations placed a vehicle in use by Levi Bellfield in the area of Kate Sheedy’s attack and he was arrested in West Drayton in London in March 2006.
Two Life Sentences
Bellfield went on trial at London’s Old Bailey on 12 October 2007 and was convicted of the murders of Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy on 25 February 2008. When it came to sentencing, Bellfield refuses to attend court saying the press publicity of his case was inaccurate and he was not happy at the things that had been said about him. In his absence, the judge sentences him to prison for life, recommending he is never released.
“You have reduced three families to unimagined grief. What dreadful feelings went through your head as you attacked and in two cases snuffed out a young life is beyond understanding.”
Levi Bellfield’s behaviour towards woman had escalated as each year passed and the more he got away with his crimes, the more he was able to dominate and control women with no consequences, the more confident he became. Bellfield is a man who should have been locked up long before he was and maybe if there had been enough evidence against him for the numerous attacks and rapes he carried out on young women before 2002, it would have stopped his progression to multiple murder. He is an exceptionally confident individual to the point of arrogance. He has a belief he is better and above others and when his opinion of women is examined it is clear he has little respect. Women, in his eyes, are there for him to use and get want he wants from. He believes he is entitled to do as he wishes with women and if they dare refuse his advances or question him in any way he quickly turns violent. He has no conscience and no compassion for the women he attacked.
After his murder convictions, police discover Bellfield lived just 100 yards away from where Milly Dowler was last seen and police had knocked at his door numerous times during door-to-door inquiries after her disappearance and got no answer. In the swamp of information and inquiries within the disappearance of Milly Dowler this got lost and was never followed up. The red Daewoo Nexia car which police had been hunting for is found to be owned by Levi Bellfield’s girlfriend at the time Emma Mills.
When questioned in prison, Bellfield denies any knowledge of Milly Dowler but does not have an alibi for the weekend she went missing. Emma Mills told police she could not get hold of Bellfield across that weekend and the all the bed sheets had been stripped from their bed which she found strange. When questioned, Bellfield told her their dog had messed the sheets so he had got rid of them, a story she did not believe. He is also found to have links to the area Milly Dowler’s body was eventually found being a location he had been to often through his wheel-clamping business.
The day before Milly was abducted, 11-year-old Rachel Cowles was approached by a man in a red car believed to be Levi Bellfield who tried to get her inside the car by claiming to be a new neighbour and offering her a lift home. The young girl refused and her mother contacted police to report the incident. Police now strongly believe that Levi Bellfield was responsible for the abduction and murder of Milly Dowler and that Rachel Cowles approached by him the day before had a lucky escape.
In May 2011 he went on trial for the murder of Milly Dowler and the attempted abduction of Rachel Cowles. Bellfield refuses to testify in his defence forcing Milly Dowler’s parents Bob and Sally Dowler to endure scathing attacks on them personally, their family unit and Milly through his defence team trying to discredit the theory that she was abducted and claim she ran away because she was unhappy at home. Levi Bellfield was found guilty of Milly’s abduction and murder on 23 June 2011 and once again given a life sentence in prison, becoming the first man in the UK to be given two full life sentences.
Links To Unsolved Cases
Police maintained an active interest in Levi Bellfield after his convictions with concerns he may have been responsible for many more unsolved rapes and murders of young women. 14-year-old Patsy Morris disappeared on 16 June 1980 after leaving school at lunchtime to go home and collect a jacket as the weather had turned cold and wet. She was never seen alive again. Her body was found two days later by a search team on Hounslow Heath in London with evidence that she had been strangled to death. Bellfield was just 12-years-old at the time of her murder and attended the same school as Patsy at Feltham Comprehensive in West London and it is reported they had engaged in a brief teenage relationship in 1979. Bellfield has made claims in the past that he killed the young girl but it is unknown whether he is telling the truth and he has never been charged in relation to her murder. Serial child killer Robert Black, who recently died in Maghaberry prison, Northern Ireland after being convicted of the murder of four young girls, has also been linked to her murder. Both parents of Patsy Morris have now died never knowing who was responsible for killing their little girl. Levi Bellfield has also been linked to the horrific murders of Lin and Megan Russell who were killed in a hammer attack in Chillenden, Kent in 1996 while walking their dog through fields. Megan Russell was just 6-years-old. To date, no further charges have been made against Levi Bellfield for any other murders.
“We looked at a dozen crimes in west London and we have not been able to eliminate Levi from any of them. I fear we may have only scratched the surface.”
Confessions To Murder
In 2016, while being re-interviewed by detectives in prison Bellfield, who by now had converted to Islam and was calling himself Yusuf Rahim, admitted he did abduct, rape and murder Milly Dowler in 2002. He told detectives the harrowing details of Milly Dowler’s last hours including how he had snatched her from the street as she was walking home and kept her alive for 14 hours while he brutally raped her repeatedly before he strangled her to death. Bellfield claimed he had an accomplice in the murder, however, police have been unable to find any evidence to support this admission.
He would only speak to female detectives to give his confession, a move which former Metropolitan Police murder squad officer Colin Sutton described as ‘typical’ of Bellfield. “He thinks he can control and manipulate women, he may have been trying to get a reaction out of them when he was describing what he had done, and he always wants to be the one dictating what happens”, he said.
Bellfield made a number of other confessions at the time he admitted murdering Miller Dowler including further admissions of his involvement in the murder of Patsy Morris, that were investigated by up to nine police forces across the UK in a coordinated effort to solve unsolved crimes and bring Bellfield to justice, however, many of his admissions have proved to be false and thought to be simply a ruse to torment victims’ families and gain himself some attention. One month after confessing to the murder of Milly Dowler, Levi Bellfield denied he had made any such confession through a letter from his solicitor, piling more pain and anguish onto Milly Dowler’s family.
“It is even beyond the cruel, wicked games that I know he was capable of. This is almost beyond what I thought even he was capable of.”
Bellfield’s mother Jean Bellfield firmly believes to his day of her son is innocent, convinced her boy would never do such things and has been framed by police for each and every attack and murder he has been investigated for. His multiple convictions for murder and his confessions have done nothing to shake her belief in his innocence. Bellfield’s mother is the only woman in his life he has made any sort of effort with and if there were to be a day she did see the reality of who her son was and the atrocious acts he has committed, his self-assurance would no doubt shatter.
Levi Bellfield is a dangerous man who enjoys playing games and garnering attention. His decisions to provide police with snippets of information in the years since his convictions knowing this would spark further investigations seems to have been a source of enjoyment for him. Described by the last judge to sentence him to life in prison as “a cruel and pitiless killer,” this is one man who should be kept behind bars for the rest of his life and never be released.