In December 1992, Suzanne Capper endured a week of relentless torture in Greater Manchester, England. Then she was burned alive.
Suzanne Capper was just 16 when she died, but while the circumstances surrounding her death were horrific, her murder was largely overshadowed in the press by the tragically gruesome death of young James Bulger just two months later.
Yet Suzanne Capper’s story of a quiet, friendless girl who clung desperately to the few relationships she had managed to establish, no matter how violently and terribly they treated her, is one of the tales of the most sadistic murders in British history.
This is the disturbing story of the death of Suzanne Capper.
Suzanne Capper’s ‘friends’ abused her long before the murder
Born in the Greater Manchester area of England in 1976, Suzanne Jane Capper was described by her mother as “very forgiving”.
Growing up, she and her sister Michelle never knew their biological father. They were raised primarily by their mother Elizabeth Dunbar and stepfather John Capper. Confidential reported. However, the couple separated when Capper was just 14 – a separation that proved traumatic for the whole family.
Capper and Michelle alternated between staying with their mother, stepfather, family friends or in the custody of local authorities. This instability and frequent moves eventually led Suzanne Capper to Jean Powell’s home.
Capper and Jean met shortly after a chance encounter with a boy around his own age named Clifford Pook, Jean Powell’s younger brother.
Pook was sitting by the side of the road one day, lamenting a situation with his girlfriend, when Capper approached him to see if he was okay. Jean and Capper met soon after.
Jean was 10 years Capper’s senior, a 26-year-old man living with three children in a dilapidated house not far from John Capper’s home. Often babysitting Jean’s young children for free, Capper spent the night at their house and skipped school the next morning.
Before long, Capper was spending more time with Jean and her friends than anyone else — her family was largely unaware of the real horrors unfolding behind the scenes.
“We found out that Jean had taken Suzanne out of school and made her work as a cleaner in the CIS building in town,” Capper’s mother later said. ” She was taking [Capper’s] the money, just letting her keep £5 a week, when we thought she was at school. When we confronted her about this, she actually threatened to burn down our house.
The real trouble, however, started when a neighbor named Bernadette McNeilly moved in.
Jean Powell and Bernadette McNeilly were a match made in hell
Bernadette McNeilly, 24, had three children of her own and lived a few doors down from Jean Powell, but by 1992 she had almost moved into Powell’s house with her children.
As The Independent reported, the already dilapidated house had become a den of drugs, parties and sex.
Jean and Bernadette weighed amphetamines in the kitchen, sold them in the living room, sold stolen car parts and slept with a slew of people who came to the house for drugs – mainly, a 16-year-old named Anthony Dudson, who is entered into a sexual relationship with Powell and McNeilly, as well as Suzanne Capper.
The house was also frequented by Jean’s ex-husband Glyn Powell, 29, 26-year-old drug addict Jeffrey Leigh and, of course, Clifford Pook.
Towards the end of November 1992, at one of their drug-fueled parties, Capper and Jean met a friend of a friend named Mohammed Yussif. Capper encouraged Jean to sleep with Yussif – a suggestion Jean disliked.
She later told police she gave Capper a “good hiding place for trying to make [her] go with an Arab.
Capper, however, reportedly told neighbors that Jean Powell tied her up and detained her for four days. None of them believed her.
It was the first of several petty feuds that ultimately led to Suzanne Capper’s gruesome death.
In another case, McNeilly, Dudson, and Jean and Glyn Powell all contracted pubic lice. Bernadette McNeilly blamed Capper.
Enraged by this baseless claim, the group forced the girl to shave her pubic hair in front of them and clean it off the floor.
McNeilly had also convinced herself that Capper had stolen a pink duffle coat from her, worth around $60.
Then, on December 7, 1992, Jean Powell and Bernadette McNeilly arrived at John Capper’s to invite Suzanne Capper to a party. A boy she liked was going to be there, they told her.
There was no boy, however. There was no party.
The horrific torture and murder of Suzanne Capper
After luring Suzanne Capper to Powell’s, the group – high on amphetamines and consisting at the time of Bernadette McNeilly, Jean Powell, Glyn Powell and Anthony Dudson – shaved her head, attacked her, beat her with utensils and wooden belts and suffocated her. her with a plastic bag.
That night, they locked her in a closet. Capper screamed all night. The six children still living in the house heard her cries.
The next day, Capper’s “friends” took her to McNeilly’s former home, where no children were present to hear the teenager scream. They tied her to a bed frame with rope, rope, electric cables, belts and a chain, injected herself with amphetamines and began their depraved torture for several days.
During this time, McNeilly injected herself with so many amphetamines that she began to call herself “Chucky” after the character of Child’s play. During visits to the home, Clifford Pook and Jeffrey Leigh also participated in torturing the girl.
Her mouth was stuffed with socks so she couldn’t scream. She was bathed in concentrated disinfectants, burning her skin. His body was covered with cigarette burns.
At one point, just hours before her death, Bernadette McNeilly injected Capper with amphetamines, placed headphones over her ears, and played rave music at full volume with Chucky’s catchphrase on repeat: “I am Chucky. Wanna play?”
Suzanne Capper’s torturers pulled out two front teeth to make her body more difficult to identify: they had decided to kill her.
Loading her into the trunk of a car that Leigh stole, they drove Capper 13 miles to a wooded area near Stockport. Three of them – Leigh, Dudson and McNeilly – pushed her through the brambles, and as she lay almost entirely naked on the ground, Bernadette McNeilly doused her with gasoline.
“I saw a flash,” Jean Powell said during his trial. “I turned around and looked and saw Suzanne in flames. She was screaming… I was numb. I was afraid.”
They left her for dead in the wee hours of the morning, singing “Burn, Baby, Burn” all the way home.
But Suzanne Capper wasn’t dead yet. With her last strength, she pulled herself to the nearest roadway, where she was spotted by the driver of a passing vehicle.
In the hospital, before falling into a coma and dying, she was able to tell the police who she was, what had happened and who, exactly, was responsible.
In the end, the Manchester Evening News reported, Jean Powell, Glyn Powell and Bernadette McNeilly received life sentences for the murder of Suzanne Capper – although McNeilly’s sentence was controversially reduced by 12 months after she was found to be a “model prisoner, full of remorse”.
Leigh was released from prison in 1998, Pook in 2001 and Anthony Dudson in 2013.
“Suzanne was very forgiving,” Capper’s mother said. “But she was also a girl who tried to work out her issues on her own. That’s what she did in the end, she survived her ordeal long enough to name each one of them.
After learning of Suzanne Capper’s tragic and torturous end, learn about the torture and murder of Kelly Anne Bates at the hands of James Patterson Smith. Or dive deep into the Amityville Horror house and its dark, haunted history.