What Was Elsie Ralph's Life After The Murder Of Her Three Children?

The following article includes descriptions of the murders of children.

Having one's child die is considered to be one of the most painful experiences a human can go through (per Heal Grief). One mother from England is still grappling with the pain of child loss to this day. Elsie Ralph's children all died on one tragic night and she is still seeking justice for their deaths decades later (via the Daily Mail).

Elsie Ralph was the mother of three children: 4-year-old Paul, 2-year-old Dawn, and 9-month-old Samantha. Elsie worked at the bar at the Punch Bowl Inn. Her husband, Clive Ralph, worked as a truck driver, and was often away from home. As a result, the family needed an extra caregiver to keep an eye on the children (via BBC). The family was also living with a lodger, David McGreavy, who was a former member of the Royal Navy (per Daily Mail). He became a family friend and enjoyed spending time with the Ralphs. As a frequent babysitter, the family relied on him and assumed their kids would be safe in his care. But on the night of Friday, April 13, 1973, everything changed. 

Searching for the Ralphs' children

David McGreavy agreed to babysit the three kids while Elsie Ralph went to work (per Daily Mail). BBC reports that the tragedy started when 9-month-old Samantha started crying. By this point in the night, McGreavy had already drunk between five to seven beers. He then put his hand over the baby's mouth, attempting to shush her. But he left his hand on her mouth for too long, and she died from suffocation. 

Instead of getting help or contacting the parents, McGreavy did the unthinkable. He went into 4-year-old Paul's room and strangled him with a wire (per the Mirror). He then sliced the throat of 2-year-old Dawn. McGreavy killed all three of the Ralphs' children and he wasn't even finished yet. He grabbed Samantha's body and beat her skull (via BBC) before grabbing a pitchfork that he found in the basement and stabbed all of the children's bodies. Afterwards, he collected the remains and hung them on a fence that separated the Ralph family's home from their neighbor's residence.

When Elsie and Clive Ralph returned home, they initially thought that their children and McGreavy were missing and called police. But then they noticed that there were blood splatters on the wall. It wasn't until police inspected the backyard that the true horror of what occurred that night was revealed. Shining flashlights into the darkness, police found the three bodies of the Ralph children hanging where McGreavy left them.

McGreavy confessed to the three murders

Police went looking for David McGreavy and found him about two hours later. The BBC reports that he was just walking around the town. When arrested, McGreavy claimed to have no idea what the charges were for but soon confessed to the triple homicide. The Ralph family as well as the local community were devastated by the loss of the three young children.

As police told Elsie Ralph about her children's fate, she got so upset that she needed to be sedated. Police did not allow her to return to her home, the scene of the crime, she wasn't given details of their murders and was not permitted to even see her children's remains. The Daily Mail reports that about six months after her three children died, Elsie attempted suicide. She stated that she couldn't find joy in life anymore, finding herself unable to attend family functions or celebrations. "After the murders, I went to pieces. I lost my three babies' lives but I have also lost most of my life," she told The Sun.

In the following years, she attempted suicide several more times, according to the BBC. Elsie also said that she and Clive's marriage fell apart. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Why would McGreavy murder three children?

To add insult to injury, McGreavy has never expressed any remorse over killing the three children nor has he ever revealed why he killed them (via BBC). The Daily Mail reports that the noise overwhelmed him, quoting him as saying, "All I can hear is kids, kids, kids." He also reportedly said that he didn't know why he killed them and was still trying to figure it out (per Liverpool Echo). McGreavy's trial lasted less than ten minutes before the courts agreed that he was guilty. Per the Irish Post, McGreavy was given three life sentences in prison and would have to serve at least 20 years. 

For a while, The Sun reports that Elsie was comforted in knowing that McGreavy would never leave jail. But then he became parole eligible in 1993. By 2006, McGreavy was reportedly granted day passes from jail and was allowed to leave unsupervised. Per the Daily Mail, a photo of McGreavy strolling around was posted to the internet. After asking a friend to look up more information about McGreavy, Elsie was stunned to finally learn the very gruesome details of her children's deaths, as no one ever revealed them to her before. Reading about their brutal murders sent Elsie to once again spiral in her grief.

'If he was released, I'd be waiting'

Per the Daily Mail, even as the years passed, Elsie Ralph still felt strongly that she would kill David McGreavy on sight if she ever got the chance. In 2013, she said, "​If he was released, I'd be waiting outside with a gun." She also decided to change her name to Dorothy Urry. According to The Sun, Elsie was told that McGreavy would never step foot outside of prison again. But instead, after applying for parole numerous times over 25 years, McGreavy was granted it in 2018. Per the Irish Post, the board overseeing McGreavy's case stated that he, now 67 years old, was a changed man with increased self-control which was gained over nearly 50 years in prison.

The Sun reports that Elsie pleaded with the parole board not to let the man go, saying, "He put my babies on spikes for God's sake — he mutilated them and they died in agony." When she found out that he was going to go free, she was completely devastated and worried for other parents. Elsie still feels that her children have never received justice for the crimes committed back in 1973. The Daily Mail reports that she would ideally like an eye-for-an-eye method of justice, saying, "I can't and will never move on. For what he did to my three children and me, he deserves the same treatment that they got — death."

David McGreavy is no longer in prison

David McGreavy has to strictly follow the rules of exclusion zones, which prohibits him from going near where Elsie Ralph lives, according to the BBC. But Elsie noted that she has family members and friends in towns McGreavy isn't barred from. She's afraid of spotting her children's murderer at random and of him blaming her for putting him behind bars for so many decades. 

Elsie was able to get McGreavy's restricted zones expanded in 2019, but that June, she received a phone call informing her that McGreavy was officially freed (per the Daily Mail). While they couldn't tell her where McGreavy was, he does have to wear an electronic GPS device to ensure that he stays out of his exclusion zones. Today, Elsie lives with her long-time partner, Robert, and their dog, Tilly. Even four decades later, she thinks about her children all day, every day, and does not believe she can ever move on from their deaths.