British traveller Simon Davis told the receptionist at the Singapore hotel where he was staying: “I’ve kicked out my roommate. He made a homosexual advance towards me. I’ll be paying the bill.”

The receptionist was hardly to know that Mr. Davis’s companion was still in room 1511, murdered, cut into 10 pieces and stuffed into a couple of suitcases.

And there the suitcases remained for the next three days while Simon Davis set about withdrawing £4,000 with his victim’s credit card and making some purchases. On March 9th, 1995, Davis checked out, lugging the suitcases with him. A few days later human body parts were found floating in Singapore harbour.

The victim, South African tourist Gerald Lowe, had struck up an acquaintance with Davis and in a fatal act of thrift agreed to share a twin-bedded £70-a-night room with him at the River View Hotel.

He of course could not have known that Simon Davis was in reality John Martin Scripps, a notorious serial killer from Hertford in England whose modus operandi was to steal money from his victims’ bank accounts, then move on quickly to another country before the body parts he left behind could be properly investigated.

A few hours after Lowe checked into the hotel with Scripps, Lowe’s skull was crushed by a mallet – probably after he had been immobilised by the 40,000-volt stun gun Scripps carried. Scripps then dismembered the body in the bathroom, using a method he traditionally employed of cutting it into 10 sections.

He carried his cutting and dissecting tools with him wherever he went abroad, and used them with consummate skill. A British prison caterer who had taught him butchery in jail said he had been a quick and adept learner.

After killing Gerald Lowe, a happily married man, Scripps flew to the Thai island of Phuket, where he killed a Canadian mother and her son. He hung a “Do Not Disturb” notice on their hotel bedroom door while he cut up their bodies.

Previously he had killed ex-Cambridge student Timothy McDowell, who was back-packing around the world, in Mexico. Police suspect that he killed many others, befriending people who felt at a loss in foreign countries. Affable and talkative, and with his apparent sophistication and knowledge of the area, he soon convinced his victims, who were always vulnerable people with money, that he was a valuable guide.

Scripps was arrested by Singapore Police after the discovery of the body parts in the harbour. He pleaded not guilty to the murder of Gerald Lowe, even though some of his victims’ possessions, including their clothes, were found among his effects. Asked why he kept the clothes he said he wanted to give them to Oxfam.

At the end of a two-month trial he was found guilty and on Friday, April 19th, 1996, he was hanged in Singapore’s Changi Prison on the same day as two drug-traffickers.