AS Dennis Nilsen opened the door to his flat, police officers were hit with the stench of rotten flesh.
Inside, they found a human head in a cooking pot which had been severed and boiled.
It marked the unmasking of one of Britain’s most prolific serial killers who murdered at least 15 young men in the 1970s and 80s, and was jailed for life in 1983.
Twisted Nilsen would strangle and drown his victims before performing sex acts on their corpses – then hide their remains under the floorboards.
The story is now being retold in gripping ITV drama Des, starring David Tennant, which saw a whopping 5.4 million Brits tuning in to watch the first episode on Monday.
The series mainly focuses on the twisted mind of Nilsen and his gruesome crimes – but who were the victims that he preyed on?
We reveal those that were identified – and the ones who got away.
Starring David Tennant, it tells the story of serial killer Dennis Nilsen, who murdered 15 men in the 1970s and 80s, and was jailed for life in 1983.
The programme mainly focuses on the twisted mind of Nilsen and his gruesome crimes rather than his victims.
So who were the troubled and often homeless young men and boys – one as young as 14 – that he preyed on?
We reveal those that were identified – and the ones who got away.
14-year-old strangled with a tie and hidden under floorboards
STEPHEN Holmes was just 14 when he became the first of Nilsen's victims on December 29, 1978.
The predator had already spent all day drinking alone when he met underage Stephen – who was on his way back from a pop concert – in the Crickleworth Arms Pub in Willesden, London.
Having seen him struggling to buy alcohol, Nilsen invited the young boy back to his flat to ply him with booze.
Nilsen, then 33, watched as an intoxicated Stephen fell asleep before strangling him with a necktie before drowning him in a bucket.
He then kept his corpse under the floorboards for eight months before burning the remains.
Corpse photographed in sexual positions
WITH a taste for blood, Nilson didn't leave it long before targeting his next victim, a Canadian tourist called Kenneth Ockenden who he met in a pub on December 3, 1979.
They drank together for several hours before Nilsen offered to take the student on a sightseeing tour of the capital.
Nilsen invited Kenneth back to his flat for a meal and showed Keneth his record collection, before suddenly strangling him with his headphones.
The twisted killer then cleaned his victim's body and took it to bed.
The following day, Nilsen photographed Kenneth's body in suggestive positions, before stowing the corpse beneath his floorboards.
He was said to have taken the body out on numerous occasions and spoken to Kenneth as though he was still alive.
Drowned in the kitchen sink
MARTYN Duffy was a 16-year-old catering student from Birkenhead, Merseyside, who Nilsen stumbled across sleeping rough at Euston station on May 17, 1980.
Faking a Good Samaritan, he offered the homeless teen a bed for the night.
Martyn was drowned in the kitchen sink before Nilsen performed a sex act on his body. He later said Martyn was: "The youngest-looking I had ever seen."
Nilson kept Martyn’s body in a wardrobe for two weeks, before putting him under the floorboards alongside Kenneth.
A murder he was too drunk to remember
NILSEN’S next victim was Billy Sutherland, 26.
Billy, who had a girlfriend and a three-year-old son, met his killer in the Jobcentre where Nilsen worked, before going to a pub with him in August 1980.
The night culminated in Nilsen murdering Billy – but he was so drunk he claimed he barely remembered it.
SCOTTISH barman Douglas was one of Nilsen’s few survivors.
In November 1980, he woke up in the killer's home after night out to find the Nilsen had tied his hands and feet up and was trying to strangle him with a tie.
He fought back and managed to escape and alert the police, showing them the marks on his neck – but police dismissed it as a tiff, putting it down to the fact both men had been drinking.
Bodies burnt on wasteland bombfire
MALCOLM Barlow, 23, was the final victim to be murdered at Melrose Avenue.
Nilsen found him slumped outside his house on September 18, 1981, and called an ambulance.
When Malcolm returned to thank him the next day, Nilsen strangled him before stuffing his body in a kitchen cabinet.
Shortly after, Nilsen was forced to leave the house by his landlord and unearthed the bodies from under the floorboards and burnt them on a bonfire.
Throat cut and miracle escape
STUDENT Paul, 19, met Nilsen in November 1981 and went back to his new flat in Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill where he plied him with alcohol.
They went to bed and the next day Paul woke with a splitting headache. He also had a deep cut across his throat and bruises on his face.
Nilsen suggested he see a doctor and medics revealed his injuries were due to someone trying to strangle him.
Paul, who didn’t report the incident but did testify against Nilsen when his case came to court, is still believed to be alive.
Strangled in struggle and drowned in bath
JOHN Howlett, 23, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, was the first victim to be murdered at Cranley Gardens.
He met the serial killer at a pub near Leicester Square in March 1982 and went back to the flat where he was strangled with an upholstery strap.
Nilsen invited him back and strangled him in bed before striking him over the head and drowning him in the bath.
Rescued and revived by own attacker
DRAG artist Carl, 21, was another who managed to make a lucky escape from the sadistic clutches of Nilsen.
The pair met in a pub in Camden before Nilsen invited Carl back to his flat in 1982.
Nilsen spiked his drink and tried to strangle him in the bath, submerging his head as Carl begged for help.
Incredibly, Carl didn't die and when he regained consciousness Nilsen told him that he'd actually saved his life after Carl had become trapped in a sleeping bag.
Carl put the memories of Nilsen strangling him down to a bad dream until he found out the truth years later.
Body left in bath for three days
GRAHAM Allen, 27, was hailing a taxi when he met Nilsen and accepted an invite to dinner in September 1982.
Nilsen made Graham an omelette, then strangled him, leaving his body in the bath for three days.
He later told police he couldn't remember if his victim had choked to death on the omelette, or if he'd strangled him, but concluded that the red marks on his neck suggested it was the latter.
Body parts in blocked drain
NILSEN’S final victim was Stephen Sinclair, 20, who fell asleep drunk at the Cranley Gardens attic on January 26, 1983.
Nilsen then strangled him with a rope and fell asleep beside the body.
Nilsen was finally caught after his neighbours complained about the smell from a blocked drain, which the plumber found was caused by the human remains Nilsen had tried to flush away.
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