“I was hoping you could tell me.”
It's January 1983 and earlier that day the police discovered human remains in the drains of his attic flat at 23 Cranley Gardens in Muswell Hill, London. When asked about the remains as he returned home from his job at a local job centre that evening, Nilsen immediately confessed to killing 15-16 young boys and men.
WATCH: The trailer for Stan's brand new series, Des. Post continues below.
Once in the interview room, the 37-year-old Scottish civil servant rattles off his inventory of murder victims like it is a grocery shopping list.
Nilsen, or Des as he prefers to be called, tells the detectives interviewing him they will find the remains of three men at the address, and the remains of another 12 or 13 men at his former address, 195 Melrose Avenue.
"I feel relieved to get this off my chest," he says, while casually stubbing out a cigarette. Nilsen tells the detectives he doesn't remember the names of his victims, but he met them in bars and on the street, and some of them were just grateful to find a friendly face.
Nilsen would offer the men, who were often mentally ill or addicted to drugs, food or a place to stay, then he would take them back to his place where they would drink and chat, before he strangled or drowned them.
The dismemberment was simply a way of disposing of the bodies.
When Detective Chief Inspector Peter Jay (Daniel Mays) asks him why, why he killed so many innocent men, chopped up their remains and hid them in his drains, Nilsen calmly replies: “I was hoping you could tell me.”