"I feel as though I cannot rest until the blood or the flesh of a screaming, pleading victim is gushing out and pooling on the floor, until all the roads and streets are streamed red and abandoned and the fear in the back of everyone's minds and on the tongue of each human that's left standing is SOS."
When we read about serial killers and the atrocious acts of violence they commit, we not only wonder about the motive, but also if the killer showed any early warning signs of what they would become in the future?
Did anyone close to them ever notice that something was off?
In the case of 26 year old British murderer Jemma Lilley, the answer is yes, almost everyone who came into contact with her was unnerved by her general presence.
Her step mother described Lilley as “sinister” and “odd” throughout childhood. She went on to say that although she seemed intelligent, she “didn’t seem to have any common sense”. She neglected to show much warmth or emotion and always made her feel on edge. So much so, that she actually moved out of the home she shared with Lilly’s father in Stamford, Lincolnshire. According to this article her stepmother believed Jemma had some kind of serious psychological issues and she could no longer live under the same roof as her.
A few years later Jemma developed not just an interest in, but an obsession with, serial killers. It was around this time that she began penning her own novel, titled “Playzone”. The book revolved around the main character, a serial killer, and Lilley had a goal to eventually get the novel published. The character was named “SOS”, an acronym for “son of Sam”, the nickname of serial killer David Richard Berkowitz who killed 6 people with a .44 caliber handgun in New York in the seventies.
SOS donned what has been described in reports as a gruesome lead mask as he stalked his victims. Jemma’s father helped her fashion a replica of it, much to his then-wife's dismay.
Lilley would talk about the book at any chance she got. Her stepmother described the contents of it as violent, focusing on murder and torture with little empathy for the victims in the story.
“You should see somebody” said those who attended college with the aspiring horror writer. Lilley attended Casterton Business and Enterprise College where she studied gaming design.
There was one problem with “the playzone” however; the sadistic fiction would begin to read more like a prophecy as Jemma Lilley approached her twenties.
In 2010, at 18 years of age, Lilley packed up and jetted off to Australia on a two year visitor visa. It was there that she met her future husband, an Australian citizen named Gordon Galbraith, whom she called “Gacy” as she later admitted that he looked “exactly like” the infamous serial killer “clown” John Wayne Gacy, who raped and murdered 33+ young boys between 1972 – 1978. She would later reveal that Galbraith was gay and the two had married in order for her to secure permanent residence in the country.
Galbraith passed away in 2014 of natural causes; he would not live to see the person his wife would become.
In 2016 Jemma became close with a 43 year old woman called Trudi Lenon, a regular in the BDSM scene who had three children. They met through a mutual acquaintance who was friends with Lilley’s late husband. The two were housemates and both wanted to lose weight, so they began working out together. Lilley was working the night shift at a Woolworths store at the time as a supervisor during closing hours. She was also a tattoo artist.
Lenon described Lilley in a text message: “You’re a literal psychopath. Unnerving but addictive” she wrote.
(Trudi Lenon. Source)
Lilley’s room was decorated with figurines of horror characters, a “Chucky” doll sat next to her PC and drawings of a man’s silhouette brandishing a knife can be seen on her drawing board. But what looked like the average room of any horror fan interested in the fictional slasher icons of the eighties had a much deeper significance to Lilley. She looked up to those cinematic slayers and aspired to be like them. She even told a friend that she wanted to kill someone before she was 25. It was at the top of her bucket list, she said.
Apparently Lenon became enamored with Lilley, whom she believed to be the dominant role in the relationship. She was the “submissive” and went by the alias “Corvina” and referred to Lilley as “SOS”. They would go by these nicknames in text conversations, where the 43 year old mother of 3 would admit that Lilley was her “dominant” who she “feared and respected”.
Lenon became Lilley’s partner in crime, and together they began plotting their first kill.
CCTV images from Bunning’s warehouse showed the pair purchasing large amounts of hydrochloric acid (a highly corrosive mineral acid) that they would use to break down the body of their victim. They also bought concrete and had picked out a spot in the garden where they would dig a shallow grave to bury the body.
Lilley had a tool belt with various knives and scalpels as well as a bone saw. She had even prepared a hidden room with a tiled floor, a gurney, a wooden cabinet and a towel. The walls of the room were covered in blue plastic.
Their victim was an 18 year old Autistic boy named Aaron Pajich. Lenon knew Pajich as they attended Kwinana College together and he was also friends with one of Lenon’s children who was just two years his junior.
Pajich adored video games and agreed to come over to the pair's shared home in Orelia (a suburb in Perth, West Australia) to help Lilley install some video games and do some maintenance on her computer.
While the teenager sat with his back to the couple, Lilley crept up behind him and began choking him with a length of wire in an attempt to garrote the boy. The ligature unexpectedly snapped so Lenon then applied to her weight Aaron Pajich to keep him down while Jemma began to brutally stab him in the neck and chest. He died as a result of his wounds.
They buried the teenagers’ body as planned, wrapped in plastic and cling film in a shallow grave under some tiles they acquired from a salvage store.
After the murder Jemma sent a text to her submissive: “I am seeing things I haven’t seen before, and feeling things I haven’t felt before. It is incredibly empowering, these images — thank you”.
While Lilley reeled with feelings of euphoria from completing her first kill, Lenon was much more paranoid about being found out. Lilley’s phone search history turned up key words such as “slit throat” while Lenon’s showed that she had searched for the length of a life sentence in Australia as well as checking the Australian missing peoples website, most likely for news of Pajich’s disappearance.
At trial, it was also shown that Lilley had done an image search for an “evil jester” silhouette, which she planned to get tattooed on herself to commemorate her “achievement”.
The two were linked with the disappearance of the teenage boy and later went on trial for his murder. Surveillance footage confirmed that they had met him on the day of his disappearance and that he had went to their residence on the morning of June 13th, 2017.
When investigators searched the house they found a square of carpet had been cut out of the floor in Jemma’s room. They suspected this is where the victim was murdered and the missing carpet most likely contained DNA evidence of the crime, such as blood. The missing piece was found hurriedly stashed in a rolled up rug.
A day after their arrest, a man who worked with Lilley went to police with information that she had confessed to the killing and gloated about it, even showing a missing poster with the victim’s photo and details. She had abrasions on her body, like scratches and bite wounds that suggested someone had desperately fought against her.
She threatened her co-worker to not tell anyone, which is why he didn’t go to the police sooner.
Later in court both Lilley and Lenon would point the finger of blame at each other and claim that the messages the two exchanged were simply role play to help character development for the “Playzone” book.
The trial is on-going at the time of writing this.