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In London in 1944, soft-spoken John Reginald Christie, the landlord of 10 Rillington Place, invites his neighbor, Muriel Eady, into his flat. After assuring Muriel that he has a medical background, he promises to cure her bronchitis with a "medicine" of vapors she breathes in through a mask. Soon, he adds carbon monoxide to the mix, and when she attempts to break away, he forces the mask onto her face until she passes out, after which he rapes and strangles her. Later, he buries the body in the garden along with his previous victims. Five years later, Timothy John Evans, his wife Beryl and daughter Geraldine rent the upstairs flat from Christie. Tim, who is illiterate, frequently lies to impress his friends, inventing a wealthy relative and insisting that he has multiple lovers. Taking an instant interest in Beryl, Christie subtly urges them to rent the apartment, despite Beryl's misgivings. Soon, Christie is visiting Beryl after Tim leaves for work, offering her tea and mentioning that he was in the police force during the war, doing medical consulting. When Tim returns home one night, Christie informs him that he owes six weeks' payment for his furniture. Blaming Beryl for not paying, Tim promises he will soon be promoted to manager, then goes upstairs to chastise his wife. Stating that she cannot cover all the bills with his meager pay, Beryl announces she is pregnant. Upset by the news, Tim is further horrified to hear that Beryl is taking pills that she hopes will abort the baby. Furious, Tim fights loudly with Beryl, and as Geraldine begins crying, he storms out to the local pub. Later, he returns home drunk and slaps Beryl. The ensuing fight attracts the attention of Christie, who advises Beryl to see a doctor and warns them both to stop fighting. The next day, Beryl visits Christie to apologize, and after informing him about the pregnancy, asks for his help. Christie suggests a doctor he knows she cannot afford, then finally, as if coerced, offers to do the "termination" himself. Following Christie's advice to obtain Tim's permission, Beryl picks up Tim from work and takes him to a movie and the pub. There, she tells him about the procedure. Disgusted, he promises to make more money, but when she cries, he gives in. The next morning, Tim gives his consent to Christie, who shows Tim a "doctor's book" to prove his medical background, knowing Tim cannot read the words. When Tim asks how the procedure is performed, Christie replies that it must remain secret, and warns him that one in ten patients can die. Seeing Tim waver, Christie feigns offense, prompting Tim to assure him he trusts him. After sending his wife Ethel out to pay bills, Christie heads upstairs, but is interrupted by the arrival of two workmen who have come to repair the outdoor washhouse. Despite the men's clatter downstairs, Beryl invites Christie into her kitchen. As he sets up, he reassures her about the procedure, then lovingly applies the mask to her face. Soon, she realizes something is wrong and struggles, so he punches her until she falls unconscious. He then rapes and strangles her. Just then, Beryl's friend Alice arrives, but finding the door locked, she leaves. Later, when Tim comes home, Christie informs him the operation did not succeed, and showing Tim Beryl's body on the bed, states that he had to secure her arms to keep her from struggling, after which she concussed her head. Tim, helpless in his grief, believes Christie's claims that Beryl's blood had been poisoned by the pills she was taking. When the landlord then refuses to call the police, stating that he would be accused of manslaughter and Tim of being an accessory to the crime, Tim agrees to keep silent. Christie offers to bury Beryl, and when Tim grows hysterical, Christie declares that he will deny any involvement and Tim will be hanged for murder. Confronting Tim about the lies he tells about his family, Christie confuses him further, until he agrees to do whatever Christie says. Christie directs Tim to go away, during which time he will dispose of the body down the manhole out front, tell people the couple went on holiday together and send Geraldine to Acton to be looked after. Later, after Tim has left, Christie strangles Geraldine. Not knowing his daughter has also been murdered, Tim visits his aunt and uncle in Wales, telling them that Beryl and Geraldine went to Brighton to visit her father. While Christie tells his wife that Tim killed the baby, and hides both Beryl's and Geraldine's bodies in the washhouse wall, Tim's aunt and uncle learn from Beryl's father that she has not been in touch with him. Trapped and bewildered, Tim goes to the local police, declaring that he is turning himself in for disposing of his wife's body. He states to the police that Beryl died from pills she hoped would abort her baby, and finding her dead body, he buried her in the manhole in a panic. When the London police explore the manhole, however, they find nothing, and Tim is questioned again. This time, Tim reveals the true story, blaming Christie for the crime. But Christie has planted newspaper clippings of past murders in Tim's nightstand, and cleverly suggests to the police that the Evanses had a discontented, violent relationship. Searching the house, the police find the bodies in the washhouse. They bring Tim back to London, where he is shocked and anguished to learn of Geraldine's death. In a daze, he agrees to the confession written by the policemen, stating he killed his wife and child while the Christies were away. At the trial, Tim reverts back to his accusation of Christie, but the landlord maintains that Tim is lying about his involvement. Tim is stunned to hear Christie lie on the witness stand about everything he previously told the Evanses about his medical background. Despite the defense's charge that Christie has multiple previous sentences for robbery and violence, the prosecution counters with Christie's admirable war record, impressing the jury. Tim is called as a witness, but his inarticulate defense cannot save him from the prosecution's emphasis on his signed confession. In jail, Tim begs his aunt to bring Christie in to talk with him face to face, but with no ally, Tim is sentenced to hang. As the verdict is read, Christie breaks down in tears. Although Tim continues to insist that he is innocent and Christie guilty, stating that he confessed only because he had nothing left to live for, the death sentence is soon signed. When Tim is hanged, Christie suffers crippling back spasms, and unlocking his medicine cabinet, sees the rope he used to strangle Beryl. That night, after Ethel intimates that she knows he murdered Beryl, Christie kills her and hides the body under the floorboards. Over the next few years, he continues luring other women with the same ruse about being a doctor. Unable to work because of his back pain, he sells the house and moves into a shelter, where he is reduced to bragging about his involvement in Tim's case. As new tenants move into 10 Rillington Place, they notice a false wall, and soon uncover some of the murdered bodies. The police set up a search for Christie, and one day while he is loitering by the wharf, a policeman recognizes him. Almost as if he has been waiting, Christie meekly submits to his arrest. Later, Christie confesses to killing Ethel and is hanged. Twelve years later, Tim is posthumously pardoned, exhumed and buried in consecrated ground.