Brianna Ghey: A psychologist’s view on what arrest footage tells us about her teenage killers

Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, convicted of killing schoolgirl Brianna Ghey Credit: Cheshire Police

The teenagers who murdered schoolgirl Brianna Ghey in a park are "very different people", says an expert psychologist.

Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, previously known only as Girl X and Boy Y because of their ages, were convicted of stabbing 16-year-old Brianna in Culcheth's Linear Park, in in Warrington in February 2023.

The 15-year-olds were found guilty of the killings after a four week trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Having studied footage released by Cheshire Police, showing the moment both Jenkinson and Ratcliffe were arrested, as well as snippets of police interviews, and CCTV footage immediately following the murders, Dr Dara Mojtahedi, a Reader in Forensic and Criminological Psychology at Bolton University says it is interesting to note how both teenagers present very differently.

Scarlett Jenkinson's arrest video shows her visibly upset and in tears, asking officers, "How come I'm a suspect, is it because I'm the last person seeing her?"

Dr Dara says he believes the tears were because Jenkinson was upset she had been caught and was not going to be able to "outsmart the police" - not because she was remorseful for what she had done.

"When you look at some of the background information," said Dr Dara, "she'd shared text messages with her accomplice and she made it clear she thought they would be able to evade detection and it would be 'easy' to fool the police.

"Here it is obvious she's trying to deceive them because she's pretending she doesn't know anything that is going on.

"That's quite unusual because if you look back on most cases where an adolescence or child murders someone, they expect to be apprehended, and once apprehended they're often quite forthcoming with their confessions.

"In this case absolutely not, she's trying to evade apprehension and she's trying to mislead the authorities.

"The tears are there but the tears tell me she's upset because she realises she's going to get caught and she's not going to be able to outsmart the police."

Conversely, the footage from Eddie Ratcliffe's arrest shows him displaying "a lack of emotion" and "very calm", telling officers "I can explain everything".

"This could be down to multiple different reasons," said Dr Dara.

"We know Eddie had autism, although many people who are neuro-divergent would still show a level of anxiety.

"The other aspect of it could be that he doesn't feel a strong level of emotion and this is something Scarlett talked about when she described him as a 'sociopath'.

"We can't prove that from this video here, but individuals with this condition often show hardly any emotion.

"This is more typical of offenders who are caught, in that when we look at a lot of adolescences who've committed murder, they expect to be apprehended and when they are apprehended, they're willing to confess and he does say 'I can explain everything'.

"Going back to Scarlett," Dr Dara explained, "it is quite surprising because a lot of adolescents who do kill, very rarely do we see them trying to deny the offence and try and plead innocence."

"[Jenkinson and Ratcliffe] are very different people. They both were hoping to murder someone but with Scarlett, she was the individual more emotionally-invested in doing the crime.

"Eddie did go along with it and he was willing to participate, but it did seem like it came from a different set of motivations."

The muted police interviews released by Cheshire Police also show very different reactions from Jenkinson and Ratcliffe.

Eddie Ratcliffe looks visibly "anxious and stressed", says the expert. "He's fidgeting with his hands, he looks stressed.

"What that video tells me is that he is anxious and somewhat stressed by the ordeal he's going through. He's exhibiting certain emotions you'd expect.

"Jenkinson, in contrast, seems to be displaying a greater level of composure and calmness", says Dr Dara.

"This doesn't look like an emotionally charged situation for her."

"We've got to be a bit cautious when we try to interpret body language from a video, but there does seem to be a greater level of composure and calmness here.

"And what studies have shown is that when adolescents are interviewed under investigation, they normally show signs of anxiety and stress, whether they're innocent or guilty, so compared to adults, they're not as calm, they normally show signs of anxiety.

"We don't see much of that with Scarlett's interview, and what that tells us it that this event wasn't emotionally charged for her, it wasn't super distressing.

"The fact what they were talking about, the murder, it wasn't something that evoked much emotion."

CCTV of Jenkinson and Ratcliffe walking away from Culcheth's Linear Park after the murder, was also released by Cheshire Police.

Dr Dara said this was 'interesting'.

"They weren't running, they were walking casually and one could argue that if they were running it would draw more suspicion.

"But the pace they were walking, if you were driving past at that point, you would have no clue that they've committed a crime."

Notes on serial killers were found in Scarlett Jenkinson's room. Credit: Cheshire Police

The court heard that Scarlett Jenkinson grew an interest in serial killers, making notes on their methods and admitted enjoying "dark fantasies" about killing and torture.

Jenkinson compiled notes on killers including Richard Ramirez, known as the Night Stalker, and the notorious cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer.

When asked in court what she enjoyed about the idea of killing, she said: "I’m not exactly sure, I just found the overall thing quite interesting I guess."

Expert psychologist Dr Dara Mojtahedi said a strong fascination with serial killers isn't rare, but what is unusual here is that Jenkinson clearly "idolised them and tried to follow in their footsteps".

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