Sister of serial killer: Joanna’s dead to me – i’ll never forgive her

Twisted Joanna Dennehy was sentenced to life last week after brutally killing three men. Her sister, Maria, tells Closer how her loving older sister became a monster.


by Ellie Henman |
Published on

When Joanna Dennehy admitted slaying three men in November last year, her lack of remorse was shocking. The 31-year-old stabbed her landlord Kevin Lee, 48, and two housemates Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, and

John Chapman, 56, in a frenzied killing spree, before attempting to murder two strangers for “fun.”

Eight months later, Dennehy – who has been diagnosed with a personality disorder – pleaded guilty to the three murders and two attempted murders.

Horrifyingly, last week the mum-of-two laughed as she was sentenced to a whole life term, the third woman in the UK to ever receive one. Her accomplices Gary “Stretch” Richards, 47, and Leslie Layton, 36 – who helped Dennehy dispose of the bodies – received life to serve a minimum of 19 years, and 14 years respectively. A third man Robert Moore, 55, was also given three years for “assisting an offender.”

For Dennehy’s younger sister, Maria, 29, the murders have torn her life apart.

Mum-of-one Maria, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, tells Closer: “I still can’t believe Joanna was capable of doing something so terrible. She’s dead to me now. When we were younger we were inseparable, but she’s not that person any more. She’s a monster. My parents are broken by what’s happened and blame themselves.

“Joanna deserves life for what she’s done – she’ll never be freed. I just want her to apologise to the victims’ families.”

The sisters grew up in St Albans with their shop manager mum Kathleen, 51, and father Kevin, 56, a security guard, and were close as children.

Maria says she'll never forgive her sister, Joanna, for her crimes
Maria says she'll never forgive her sister, Joanna, for her crimes

Maria – who lives with her partner Luke, 36, and has a seven-month-old daughter from a previous relationship, says: “We had a happy childhood. Our parents worked long hours so Joanna looked after me. She was really protective. She loved netball and hockey and was very academic. I looked up to her.”

But when she turned 14, Dennehy started dating an older man, John Treanor, then 19, and began dabbling with drugs.

Maria explains: “She was hanging around with older kids and smoking cannabis. She became rebellious and had an attitude. I was upset because she didn’t want to hang around with me any more. My parents gave her strict curfews, but she rebelled even more.”

A year later, aged 15, Dennehy started running away from home regularly. Maria says: “Mum and Dad found her in a hostel with John and brought her back home. But she was horrible to be around. She was drinking and smoking cannabis. I didn’t know who she was any more.

“They tried to get her to see a doctor or go to rehab, but she refused. They were heartbroken and didn’t know how to help her.”

At 16, Dennehy moved into a bedsit with John in Milton Keynes and was soon spiralling into a world of drink and drugs.

Maria says: “We visited when she was 17 and I was shocked. Joanna had shaved her head and was six months pregnant. She was smoking cannabis and was talking erratically.

“We were horrified she was taking drugs while pregnant. My parents begged her to come home so they could help take care of the baby. But Joanna insisted she was happy and didn’t need any help. My parents regularly checked on her, but one day she disappeared. We were told she’d been evicted but had no idea where she’d gone.”

The sisters lost contact and Maria joined the army as a radio controller. But, in 2007, after returning from seven months in Afghanistan, Maria decided to get back in touch with Dennehy.

She says: “I missed her. We’d been so close when we were younger and I wanted that back. I found her on the electoral roll, she’d moved to Cambridge with John and had two daughters, who were seven and a few months old. She was talking manically and I could see self-harm scars on her arms. I was so upset to see her in such a state.

Joanna is mother to two daughters, now seven and 14

“Joanna told me she’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was having treatment, I was relieved she was seeking help. Despite her reckless lifestyle, her kids were well-dressed and polite. I could see she was a loving mum.”

But Maria was unable to put up with Dennehy’s volatile behaviour and the sisters drifted apart again. She says: “Joanna would ask me for cash and spend it on drugs. She wasn’t like a sister any more, she just used me for money.”

In 2009, the couple split and John took their daughters to live with him in Derbyshire, while Dennehy struck up a relationship with a woman. Maria kept in contact sporadically on Facebook.

She says: “She seemed happy with her girlfriend and told me things were going well.

“I messaged her in October 2012 when I found out I was pregnant. I hoped she’d say congratulations but she never responded, I was devastated.”

Shockingly, seven months later, Maria found out about Dennehy’s horrific crimes.

She explains: “I got a call from my best friend who told me she’d seen Joanna on the news and she’d been arrested for murder. I felt like I was having a panic attack and couldn’t breathe.

“I called my parents and met up with them to break the news. Mum was sobbing and Dad was in complete shock. The next day a police officer came round and told us Joanna had been charged with three murders and two attempted murders. None of us could believe she was capable of something so terrible.”

Over the following months, details of Dennehy’s sickening actions emerged. She began her killing spree by stabbing her friend Lukasz Slaboszewski through the heart, then dumped his body in a wheelie bin. Ten days later, she killed John Chapman, followed by landlord Kevin Lee, who was also her lover, before leaving their bodies in ditches in Cambridgeshire.

Days later, she drove to Hereford with Gary “Stretch” Richards, allegedly saying: “I want my fun,” and stabbed two strangers Robin Bereza, 64, and John Rogers, 56, who suffered critical injuries, but survived.

Joanna is only the third woman in the UK to be sentenced to a whole life term

Police struggled to find a motive for the killings. They believe Dennehy may have stabbed Kevin because he was about to evict her from her property. But her drink and drug-fuelled lifestyle and personality disorder also played a part.

Maria says: “Hearing the details of the murders tore our family apart. None of us could understand how Joanna could have done something so inhumane. My parents blamed themselves, wondering if there was more they should’ve done. But I knew we’d all loved her and tried to help, it wasn’t our fault.”

Dennehy pleaded guilty in November last year. Richards was found guilty of the attempted murder of Robin Bereza, while Layton was found guilty of preventing the lawful burial of two of the victims and perverting the course of justice.

Maria says: “I couldn’t bear to see Joanna in court. When I heard she’d admitted the crimes and didn’t show any remorse, I felt sick. I didn’t understand how she could destroy people’s lives and not even care.”

Now Maria is trying to rebuild her life and is hoping to get in contact with Dennehy’s daughters, now seven and 14.

She says: “I don’t think of Joanna as my sister any more. In the future, when I feel stronger, I’d like to see her in prison to get some answers. But at the moment, I don’t feel up to it.

“Joanna’s daughters live with their dad at the moment, but I’d like to have contact with them in future. I’m their auntie and I want to be close to them.

“Mum and Dad are still struggling to cope. We talk about the happier times with Joanna but none of us think of her as a part of our family any more. I’m devastated that the sister I loved has done something so terrible. I can never forgive her.”

By Miranda Knox & Fran Anker

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us