Joanna Dennehy is one of only four women in the UK who have been sentenced to a whole-life order - meaning she will spend the rest of her life behind bars. The third woman to receive such a sentence, she’s part of a notorious list which includes Moors murderer Myra Hindley, serial killer Rose West and most recently baby killer Lucy Letby.
Whole-life orders are the most severe penalty available in the country’s criminal justice system and are reserved for those who commit the most heinous crimes. Dennehy was just 31- years- old when she pleaded guilty to the murders of three men in 2013.
Her frenzied attacks were dubbed the “Peterborough Ditch Murders” after with the help of her accomplices she disposed of her victims’ remains in ditches around the Cambridgeshire city. Here’s everything you need to know about serial killer Joanna Dennehy.
Who is Joanna Dennehy?
Dennehy was born in St Albans, Herefordshire in 1982 to parents Kathleen and Kevin. Despite being from what was understood to be a stable and loving home, she ran away at just 16- years-old and ceased contact with her family.
In 2013 she was arrested after killing three men and stabbing a further two.
Where is Joanna Dennehy now?
Dennehy is currently incarcerated at Low Newton Prison in Durham - the same facility where notorious serial killer Rose West was held until Dennehy threatened her life.
What did Jenny Dennehy do?
Dennehy was just 31- years- old when she pleaded guilty to the murders of Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, her landlord Kevin Lee, 48, and housemate John Chapman, 56. Her crimes were dubbed the “Peterborough Ditch Murders” after she disposed of her victim’s remains in ditches around the Cambridgeshire city with the help of accomplices Gary “Stretch” Richards, 47, and Leslie Layton, 36.
Following discovery of the remains, police launched a nationwide hunt to find her, but before she could be apprehended, Dennehy stabbed two dog walkers, John Rogers and Robin Bereza in Hereford. According to All That’s Interesting, Dennehy claimed that she only targeted men because she was a mother and did not want to kill a woman with a child.
She reportedly told a psychiatrist that she “got a taste for it” after she murdered her first victim Slaboszewski. Her mother Kathleen has also commented on her crimes - reported by The Sun she opened up about her daughter in 2017 during a documentary for the Crime + Investigation channel.
Kathleen described her as “very sensitive”, adding: “If she stood on a worm or something she would be really upset if it died – she used to take them to bed with her. So she was a loving girl.”
She continued: ‘’She was polite to everybody. Teachers always said that she was a nice girl.’’ Describing the moment she realised the crimes her daughter had committed, Kathleen said: ‘’When I saw this footage of Jo it was like somebody I didn’t know.
“She’s standing there being charged, smiling and laughing, that’s not the kind, loving Jo that was our baby.’’ She went on: ‘’To me she doesn’t exist any more. I don’t ever want her to come out of jail. The world’s safer without Joanna in it.”
Is she serving a whole-life sentence?
Dennehy was found guilty of stabbing three men to death in a series of frenzied attacks in March 2013. She was sentenced to a whole-life order, which means she will never be eligible for parole. She is the third woman to receive such a sentence along with Moors murderer Myra Hindley, serial killer Rose West and baby killer Lucy Letby.
Her accomplices Richard and Layton were also convicted for their roles, with Richards sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 19 years, and Layton sentenced to serve 14 years in prison.
How to watch Joanna Dennehy documentary
In 2019, Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna Reid delved into Dennehy’s shocking crimes for ITV documentary Joanna Dennehy: Serial Killer. The one hour true crime documentary is available to watch on ITVX.
Reid, who describes the killer as an “abhorrent, horrific, compelling, magnetic character”, told PA Media at the time of release: “Her family wrote us a letter about her, saying she was a bookworm when she was at school, she was a good girl, she came from a decent background, happy family, given all the advantages she could possibly want.
“How did she turn into a woman who could brazenly swagger into a police station at the age of 30, boast about the fact she thought five people were dead as a result of her actions, flirt with police officers and show off about being a serial killer?”
There have been other documentaries about the notorious killer including Channel 5’s TV movie Joanna Dennehy: Killing For Kicks in 2017 and a third documentary, The Murderer & Me, which was released on Sky in 2021 and features Dennehy’s daughter in episode one.