This Is How Traveling Killer John Martin Scripps Was Finally Caught

On April 19, 1996, John Martin Scripps became the first Westerner killed by execution in the country of Singapore. As reported by the Associated Press, Scripps was charged and convicted in the death of tourist Gerald George Lowe, and subsequently sentenced to death by hanging. Although he is suspected in at least two other murders, he was never charged or tried for those crimes.

Scripps met Lowe in March 1996, while both were visiting Changi, Singapore. The Straits Times reports Scripps approached Lowe at the Changi airport, struck up a conversation, and offered to share a hotel room. Gerald agreed, and the men checked into the River View Hotel later that same day.

According to Scripps, Lowe awakened him later that night by making sexual advances. Scripps said he was alarmed when he realized his "half-naked" roommate was "touching his buttocks." As reported by The Straits Times, Scripps reacted to Lowe's advances by repeatedly striking the man over the head with a hammer.

The following morning, Scripps told a hotel employee that Lowe left the hotel and needed to be removed from the registration for their room. The Straits Times reports he then used Lowe's debit card to withdraw nearly $9,000 in cash, which he used to purchase a video camera, tickets to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and a flight to Bangkok.

Within days of John Scripps' departure, authorities started finding pieces of Gerald Lowe's body in the Singapore River.

John Martin Scripps is arrested

While on his flight to Bangkok, John Martin Scripps met Sheila and Darin Damudes, who were a mother and son from Canada. Upon arrival in Thailand, Scripps and the Damudes' booked adjoining rooms at Nilly's Marina Inn in Patong Beach. As reported by The Straits Times, Sheila and Darin Damudes were seen having breakfast the following morning. However, they seemingly vanished shortly thereafter.

Days later, Scripps paid the Damudess' hotel bill and told the receptionist that the mother and son had left. He then boarded a plane back to Singapore.

The Straits Times reports authorities were waiting for Scripps at the Singapore airport, and he was arrested immediately upon arrival. Among the suspected killer's possessions, authorities found traveler's checks, $40,000 in cash, and a stun gun. They also found credit cards and passports that belonged to Gerald Lowe, Darin Damudes, and Sheila Damudes. Later that same day, authorities in Thailand began discovering pieces of Darin and Sheila's bodies.

During his trial for the murder of Gerald Lowe, Scripps said he was frightened by Lowe's advances and killed him to prevent further assault. He also claimed a "friend," who he refused to identify, disposed of Lowe's body.

As reported by The Straits Times, the judge dismissed John Martin Scripps' account of the Gerald Lowe's murder. "I'm satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Martin had intentionally killed Lowe," the judge said during the ruling. "After that, he disarticulated Lowe's body into separate parts, and it was he who subsequently disposed of the body parts."

John Martin Scripps learned butchery during a previous stay in prison

Although he was not being charged or tried for the case, the judge also said, "the disarticulation of the body parts of Lowe, Sheila, and Darin have the hallmark signs of having been done by the same person." As reported by The Straits Times, John Martin Scripps was ultimately found guilty in the murder of Gerald George Lowe and was subsequently sentenced to death by hanging.

The Straits Times reports Scripps was executed on April 19, 1996. Following his death, Canadian and Taiwanese officials closed their investigations into the murders of Sheila and Darin Damudes, as he was the only suspect in their deaths.

American authorities also suspect Scripps of murdering a homosexual sex worker, whose mutilated body was found in a dumpster in 1994.

The murders committed by Scripps were particularly heinous, as he reportedly dismembered his victims. As reported by The Straits Times, he learned the skill of butchery while serving time in Britain at the Albany Prison for drug trafficking in 1993. A prison official, who wanted to help Scripps succeed after his release, enrolled him in a six-week class to learn the butchery trade. In retrospect, the official said, "Scripps was a natural at dismembering and deboning animals."