We’ve all heard tales of the Boogeyman, but for 13 kids in the 1960s, the nightmares were absolutely real.
The man who became known as the “Beast of Jersey” was born Edward John Louis Paisnel in 1925. Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, located off the coast of France.
Local people called him “Ted,” and he was known to be a pillar of society in the town of Grouville. Paisnel had married a woman named Joan, and the couple were known to take in orphaned children. He had even dressed up as Santa Claus for a local orphanage.
However, something changed him. Paisnel’s mother-in-law, Florence Walden, owned the La Préférence children’s home. Paisnel liked to visit the home, and was there so often that some of the kids who lived there called him “Uncle Ted.” However, that was effectively Paisnel showing the face of Dr. Jekyll.
As there are no accounts of his crimes until 1960, it’s not clear what caused him to begin his awful reign of terror. However, after the world learned of his crimes, Paisnel was considered by some reports to be a prime example of the story of Jekyll and Hyde. It’s not clear if he only acted on the full Moon, but there was believed to have been a connection to the full Moon in some of the instances of his crimes. There is also some evidence to show that at some point Paisnel began to worship Satan, even building an altar in his secluded barn.
HIS CRIMES — AND WHAT HE WORE
Paisnel had a very disfigured and disturbing rubber face mask that he would put on with a black wig when he moved on his victims. Photos of the get-up show him looking not unlike Leatherface, the chainsaw-wielding villain of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
He had fashioned wristbands with nails sticking out of them like spikes. Pictures from news coverage of the trial show that he embedded nails in the shoulder pads of a jacket he wore during his crimes, ensuring that any areas someone might have tried to grab in self-defense only brought more injuries.
For 11 years, Paisnel donned that mask and wig, attacking young children as they slept. There are conflicting reports on whether he actually attacked children in an additional orphanage to La Préférence, or if it was solely at his family’s orphanage.
He was believed to have used chloroform on the children while they were sleeping, slipping a noose around their necks, and snatching them from their beds. He would then commit sadistic sexual and physical abuse on the children.
THE FALL OF THE BEAST
Paisnel terrorized the children for over a decade before his own fear caught up with him. He had stolen a vehicle in preparation for his next attack, but on the way to his destination, he encountered a police roadblock that was in place to investigate a completely unrelated crime. Thinking they were after him, Paisnel panicked and ran through the roadblock before speeding through a red light. A high-speed chase ensued, but Paisnel was finally pulled over and captured. Police were shocked to find that Paisnel was wearing the nail-edged jacket and wristbands. The mask and wig were also found in his car.
Paisnel was convicted in late 1971 on 13 counts of assault, rape, and sodomy. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison, but he was released before the full term, and passed away in 1994 on the Isle of Wight.
Paisnel’s trial revealed that the “Beast” had modeled himself on the legendary French nobleman Gilles De Rais, who was notorious for luring children to his castle and sacrificing them to Satan. De Rais became the inspiration for the legend of “Bluebeard.”
Recent inquests in the UK have raised suspicions about the extent of Paisnel’s crimes, as there has been evidence suggesting Paisnel may be linked to several still-unsolved missing-children cases. In 2008, authorities were able to link Paisnel to a child’s skull found during excavations at the site of the orphanage.
At least one witness in a 2015 inquest on abuse in childrens’ homes told authorities about waking up to see the eyes and rubbery face mask that belonged to Paisnel. Only time will tell how many other crimes will be placed at the feet of the Beast of Jersey.