10 Facts About Joseph Kappen, The Saturday Night Strangler

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Joseph William Kappen was a Welsh serial killer who raped and killed three girls in Port Talbot in 1973 on Saturday nights, was caught 30 years later – after his death – in the first case in history solved using familial DNA testing. He became known as the Saturday Night Strangler.

Read the full unadulterated story in True Crime Killers Volume 1!

Known to Police at the Age of Thirteen.

Born in 1941, Joseph was raised with six other siblings in Port Talbot where he lived for most of his life. When his parents divorced, he turned to petty crime.

By the age of thirteen, he was already known to the local police for petty thefts and assaults. He didn’t change his ways and by the time he was in his Twenties, had racked up over thirty convictions.

Joseph William Kappen

Killed a Dog in Front of His Son.

When he was twenty-one, he married his teenage girlfriend but was sent to prison shortly after for burglary. His son was born while he was in prison, and his daughter a year after his release.

A few years later, while walking their dog, Joseph kicked the pet then strangled it to death in front of his son. He claimed that death was the only way of life because the dog was old.

Became a Bouncer to Meet Teenage Girls.

Joseph liked young girls because he felt he could control them, despite being married. He got work as door security at pubs and clubs which gave him access to drunk teenage girls.

He lured a 15-year-old girl to an isolated area and attempted to rape her, but she fought him off. Joseph was never identified as the attacker which left him free to roam.

RELATED: 6 Welsh Cold Cases From the 1970s and 1980s.

He Attacked Female Hitchhikers.

In 1973, a few years after the attack on the 15-year-old, he picked up two drunk female hitchhikers and took them to a quiet country lane, where he attempted to rape them.

They both managed to fight him off, but again, he was never identified as the attacker. Realising he needed to cover his tracks better, he moved on to murder.

Prowled the Streets Looking for Drunk Teenage Girls.

On Saturday 14th July 1973, 16-year-old Sandra Newton was separated from her friends after leaving a nightclub. She started to stagger home when Joseph offered her a lift, which she accepted.

Sandra Newton

He drove her to a working coal mine where he raped her and strangled her to death. He left the body in the open next to a tunnel with no attempts to cover it up.

He Killed Two Girls in One Night.

The next murders happened two months later, on another Saturday night in nearby Swansea. Two 16-year-old friends, Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd, fell out of a nightclub and hitchhiked to save money on a taxi.

Joseph was already on the prowl and picked up the unsuspecting girls. He drove them to Llandarcy woods near Port Talbot where he raped and strangled them to death. Their bodies were found the next day.

Pauline Floyd (left) and Geraldine Hughes
Pauline Floyd (left) and Geraldine Hughes.

150 Detectives Worked on the Case.

The murders took place before the days of CCTV and DNA profiling. Due to the massive national interest in the case, 150 detectives ended up investigating the murders.

The term serial killer was rarely banded about in 1970s Wales but it’s exactly what they had on their hands. When the press got hold of the story, the killer became known as the Saturday Night Strangler.

Joseph was one of 35,000 Suspects.

A witness claimed the girls had climbed into a white Austin 1100 which led the investigation to track down and question every owner of an Austin 1100 within a fifty-mile radius.

Including the 13,000 men who worked in the mines and other suspects, the list rose to 35,000 suspects. Kappen was one of them. In the days before computer databasing, the workload was too big, and the investigation slowed down.

True Crime Killers Volume 1
Read the full unadulterated story in True Crime Killers Volume 1!

The Saturday Night Strangler Died Before He Was Identified.

In 1998, a forensic specialist went on a mission to work out who the Saturday Night Strangler was. He eventually found a male fingerprint on one of the girl’s underwear, a rare piece of evidence that had survived storage.

Three ageing detectives took on the case and whittled down the original suspect list to 500 persons of interest. In 2002, the team used the new method of familial genetic testing which led them to Joseph as the main suspect – who had died of lung cancer in 1990.

First Case in the World to Use Familial DNA Testing.

In the Summer of 2002, after matching partial DNA to Joseph’s extended family, they exhumed his body. Testing provided a 100% match for the DNA of the Saturday Night Strangler.

It was the first case in the world to use familial DNA tracing to identify a killer in a previously unsolved murder. The technology used to catch the Saturday Night Strangler was later used across the world.

Read the full unadulterated story in True Crime Killers Volume 1!

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