Dad’s girlfriend was serial killer Joanna Dennehy

EYES wide with horror, 13-year-old Dani Hitchcock looked on in disbelief as her dad’s girlfriend, Joanna Dennehy, gyrated around her bedroom to the sounds of Jessie J’s Do It Like A Dude. 

“I was so uncomfortable,”  says Dani, now 24, from Peterborough, Cambs. “I’d never liked Joanna and I couldn’t understand why she had come into my room urging me to pole dance with her.


Dani told how her dad dated notorious killer Joanna DennehyCredit: Supplied

“It made no sense, and I felt sick as she encouraged me to wiggle my hips – and then suggested we perform a routine for my dad. It was so inappropriate, encouraging a child to be ‘sexy’.

“She lived with my dad for two-and-a-half years, and I never warmed to her. In fact, I got very dodgy vibes off her – she was so cold. It made me feel really uneasy, a feeling which has stayed with me to this day.”

But Dani had no clue just how strange Dennehy, now 38, would prove to be. 

Shortly after her breakup with her dad, Dennehy, from St Albans, Herts., murdered three men and stabbed two more before going on the run and posting pictures of herself holding a huge knife.

Only the third woman – alongside Rose West and Myra Hindley – to be given a whole life term in 2014, she’s been back in the news after recently being moved from HMP Bronzefield to HMP Low Newton after falling for a prison officer. 

Now, Dani, who works in childcare, is opening up for the first time about what it was like growing up with a serial killer for her de facto stepmother, explaining: “I want to tell my story – I was emotionally traumatised by her behaviour and presence too.

“She was in and out of prison and in the entire time I knew her she only hugged me once. And it wasn’t a comforting hug – it was a cold touch. She was like the evil stepmother in Cinderella. 

“I just really hate her. I hate her for taking up my dad’s time and making me feel so unwelcome in my dad’s home. I hate her for what she did to those poor families. It’s made it really hard for me to trust people even now.”

Dani’s parents split in 2009 and she lived with her mum Sandra*, now 53, full time but stayed with her dad Geoff*, now 53, at weekends.

“My first meeting with Joanna was at the cinema – my dad had brought her along to meet me and my brothers Paul* and Richard* – and she was wearing my dad’s clothes, which I found odd.

“They hung off her and she made no effort with me. She was cold and unwelcoming.”

Dani also vividly remembers noticing the infamous star tattoo on Dennehy’s face.

Dani, pictured with her dad at a wedding they both attended with Dennehy


Dani, pictured with her dad at a wedding they both attended with DennehyCredit: Supplied

“That was what was most apparent to me at that age – it really stood out and I couldn’t understand it, I had never seen an adult with a face tattoo,” she says. “I didn’t really understand why my dad liked her. She didn’t really seem very clean and her whole aura was very horrible.

“I was embarrassed to be seen out with her, worried about what my friends from school might say, but Dad seemed so in love.”

She soon learnt through her dad that he had met Dennehy through a friend, Bob*. 

“Bob was a man in his 80s who had recently lost his wife and was very lonely,” says Dani. “He would come into the games shop my dad owned, and just sit there and chat to him all day – he was after companionship and my dad was happy to provide that.

“One day Bob told my dad he had a new lodger who he’d found sleeping on a park bench.

“It was Joanna.

“But Bob would tell some strange stories about her which, even at 13, I realised were off.

He explained she’d walk around naked – he was a man in his 80s, I was so confused as to why she was doing it, it seemed peculiar to me and I realised it wasn’t ordinary behaviour.”

Bob and Dennehy’s relationship soured rapidly when he accused her of stealing his late wife’s jewellery. But despite this, Dani’s dad was captivated by her. He invited Joanna to stay in his four-bed house and they soon became partners – much to his young daughter’s horror. 

“He was besotted with her,” she says. “My dad needed walking sticks after being diagnosed with MS aged 30 and I think Joanna liked that he was vulnerable.

“He would take her on holidays abroad and buy her nice clothes, which she would show off.

I’d never liked Joanna and I couldn’t understand why she had come into my room urging me to pole dance with her.

Dani Hitchcock 24

“She would also drink a lot, which created a toxic atmosphere.”

On one occasion, Dani spotted Dennehy crushing up pills for her dad – pain medication he genuinely needed. “I asked her what he was doing and she leered at me ‘it’s to make him horny.’ It was so inappropriate,” she says. 

“Boundaries were always blurred with her. I dreaded being at dad’s house, but I wanted to see him.

“Joanna also hated my mum. She was always criticising her parenting skills, saying we didn’t have enough money spent on us. But meanwhile, she was spending all my dad’s money. 

“‘She also had no clue how to interact with children. She wanted praise for teaching me how to pole dance, not realising it wasn’t something you teach children.”

Dennehy, while still on the run from the police


Dennehy, while still on the run from the policeCredit: PA:Press Association

Dani says it was clear Dennehy preferred her brothers although she doesn’t know why. 

“She was much friendlier towards them and I don’t know if that was jealousy, or she didn’t like that I was old enough to complain about her to my dad. I would beg him to leave her, but he refused. I think he just thought I felt threatened, and I understand that. I don’t know why my dad stayed with her – I wonder if he didn’t like the idea of being lonely.

“I think she may have preyed on that – like she probably did with all her victims. 

“What I do know is she had absolutely no care or concern for him and all the attention was on her.”

Dani’s prayers were answered when their relationship finally ended in 2012, after her dad discovered Dennehy had cheated on him.

“I was relieved,” says Dani. “I hated her sleeping in the room opposite me, not knowing what she was capable of doing but knowing she was just bad.”

In March 2013, just months after she was out of Dani’s life, Dennehy went on the run after murdering Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, John Chapman, 56, and Kevin Lee, 48, and dumping their bodies in ditches

She was convicted of three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder  in November that year. The court was told she was a diagnosed ‘psychopath’  with a ‘lust for blood’ who had been on probation for other offences when she went on her killing spree. 

Dani was in the car when she found out. “I was getting picked up from college when news of what she’d done came on the radio,” she says. “In total shock, I said to Mum ‘that could’ve been us… it could have been Dad.’ It’s terrifying to think we’ve been so close to evil, that we’d slept in the same house as it. 

Dani, pictured with her dad


Dani, pictured with her dadCredit: Supplied

“I don’t know why dad was spared, but I’m just thankful he was.

“Afterwards, when I thought about what she had done, I had terrible nightmares. There was so much darkness surrounding her and she tainted my memories of the home I grew up in.”
Shortly after her arrest, Dani’s shell-shocked dad wrote to Dennehy in prison and asked why she’d committed such horrific crimes.

She refused to tell him why bit did admit something that chilled him and Dani to the bone. 

“She admitted that while she’d carried out the murders, she had Elvis playing in the background because she loved him so much,” Dani says. 

“I can fully believe that – she was always playing Elvis around the house. It was sickening to learn that she’d also played him when committing her crimes.”

To come to terms with her experience, Dani recently published a video explaining what she had gone through on TikTok, which prompted some members of Dennehy’s family to respond negatively. 

“Some people were interested but others said I was insensitive for posting it on social media – but it is my story and one I have a right to tell,” she says. 

“Dennehy robbed a significant part of my childhood and the memories of it linger into adulthood.

“Her emotional abuse has impacted me. As a result of her behaviour, I cut people off really easily, but thankfully I also forgive easily.”

And she feels hugely sorry for all Dennehy’s victims and their families. 

“We’ve all endured trauma,” she says. “She robbed three years of my childhood. I should have been able to spend more time with my dad, who now suffers from memory loss caused by his MS.

“She is evil. She had no remorse for the murders, and she did not care. We’re so lucky to have survived living with a murderer – I thank my lucky stars every day.”

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