The terrifying story of Edward Paisnel, the 'Beast of Jersey'

Content Warning: This story contains graphic details of violence and sexual assault.

While some communities have been terrorized by serial killers, Jersey isle located between France and England in the Channel Islands, was terrorized by a serial rapist. They're not much different when it comes to their signature "calling cards," habits, or hunting patterns except that victims of a serial rapist tend to be left alive when the incident is over. That doesn't make them any less terrifying though.

The story of Edward Paisnel, the "Beast of Jersey," has all the elements you'd expect, from a creepy get-up to a unique criminal pattern, per History Daily. His story even contains a touch of dark occultism. Even bad publicity is publicity, and Paisnel was famous before the world even knew his name. His reign of terror through the streets of Jersey lasted for nearly 14 years, from 1957 until he was finally apprehended in 1971. The image of Paisnel would be enough to give you nightmares by itself, let alone his grotesque acts of sexual violence.

The pattern and evolution

Edward Paisnel stalked and raped at least 13 people, possibly closer to 100, in a terrifying manner. Though his signature assault seemed to evolve over the years, it contained elements of terror consistent with his earlier "work." His first four victims were all young women, and the attacks came each within a few months of the previous. Thought Catalog reports Paisnel stalked his initial victims at bus stops in the middle of the night before slinging a rope around their necks, tying them up, and dragging them off to nearby fields where he would beat them before raping them.

It was only a couple of years before Paisnel got tired of finding his victims on the street and began to invade their homes where, again, he'd drag them off and attack them in the middle of the night. Throughout the 60s, the "Beast of Jersey" branched out in his selection of victims. No longer would the monster be constrained to young women. He now attacked older women and children too.

Reports of the attacks were muddled by misdirection. Paisnel would drop certain false hints meant to steer investigators in the wrong direction. He'd speak with an Irish accent and ask for cigarettes. He was neither Irish nor a smoker. His signature costume came in later years. A homemade rubber mask, spiked wig, and coat with spikes on the wrists and collar to prevent his victims from fending him off, but he was known from the beginning to have a unique "musty" odor.

The wrong man almost took the fall

"The Beast of Jersey" made headlines and the police were on their search. The papers published a description of the attacker, hoping that the public might be able to point investigators in the right direction. Police then requested that each man on the island submit fingerprints for a reference. Of course, this sort of thing can't be mandated and 13 people opted out, one of them being Edward Paisnel. Go figure.

Paisnel wasn't suspect numero uno anyway. Instead, police were pretty sure the Beast was Alphonse Le Gastelois, a local fisherman and farmworker. Gastelois was a bit of an eccentric and fit the physical description of the attacker. The police arrested him but didn't have the evidence to charge him with the crimes. Before Gastelois could be officially cleared, the public, still certain he was the man behind the Beast, burnt his home to the ground. Obviously, Gastelois left town after that.

The Beast hid his evil behind noble acts

Edward Paisnel wasn't suspected to be the "Beast of Jersey" until shortly before he was apprehended, and there's a reason for that. Paisnel was, on the surface, an upstanding guy. He was a contractor with a wife and kids. He met his wife while working on the foster home she ran, and all the kids liked him so much, they called Paisnel "Uncle Ted." He brought the children gifts and played with them. Heck, he even pretended to be Santa Claus during the holidays. The only dark mark on his record was when he stole food to feed the hungry during WWII, like some sort of depraved Robin Hood.

Paisnel's wife described him as having a low sex drive, claiming that their marriage was only for show. How could he possibly be a rapist? Well, he was getting his kicks by satisfying his inner demon. A demon that was monumentally dark. According to Planet Today, Paisnel actually worshiped one of the worst child-murderers in history, Gilles de Rais who was hung in France in 1440 for killing over 200 children.

Taking down the 'Beast of Jersey'

Like many long-term serial killers, serial rapist Edward Paisnel threw the police off by going through quiet periods. As soon as they knew the "Beast of Jersey" was back, he'd drop off the map. Also like many serial killers, Paisnel is responsible for getting himself caught.

The Beast had developed an ego. He wanted investigators to search for him. Paisnel, in cliche form, wrote the police a letter threatening another rape in the following months to see if they could catch him. Of course, the Beast went through with the attack. That was in 1966. Paisnel wasn't arrested until July 10, 1971, when police pulled him over for driving like a crazy person. Paisnel was hopping curbs, hitting other cars, and even plowed through a tomato field. In the car, they found the Beast's costume. He tried to play it off by claiming to be heading to a fancy orgy somewhere, but that story fell apart when the cops searched his home and found his secret room. The room had the same musty sent as the Beast's victims described, as well as a slew of creepy costumes. To make things worse, the room contained Satanic artifacts and an alter that looked to be for some type of occult ritual.

Paisnel was arrested and sentenced to serve 30 years. He died of a heart attack in 1994, three years after being paroled early. So don't worry, he won't be coming for you anytime soon.