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Who is the Happy Valley serial killer? We take a look at the suspects

This article contains spoilers for episodes 1-4 of Happy Valley series two — DO NOT READ unless you are up to date with the series

With two episodes to go, Happy Valley season two is gearing up for a dramatic finale.

In comparison to series one, where we knew exactly who the bad guys were, season two has set us up with a whodunnit storyline.

Fan theories are beginning to emerge on who the prostitute-abusing serial killer could be — and with one suspect in police custody, the show's CID officers certainly believe they're close to the truth.

But have they got the right man? Or could someone else have blood on his hands?

Here's a look at the suspects in series two:

Sean Balmforth

Matthew Lewis plays Sean Balmforth

Sean, a former employee of Nevison Gallagher and alleged rapist, is CID's prime suspect — currently in police custody, he's being questioned about the murdered prostitutes after being charged with the rape and assault of Leonie.

It's not looking good for Sean — we've seen the rope kept in the back of the white van, DNA from one of the murdered women has been found in the same white transit and a check of his phone revealed he had Lynn Dewhurst's number. He's also got a criminal record, has served time and is getting the backs of the officers up by answering every query with a sullen 'no comment'.

BUT despite the evidence, I'm not convinced CID have got the right guy here. He looked genuinely shocked when he was arrested for the murders — after a rather casual response to the rape and assault charges — and you can see he's terrified. Also, is it that surprising the DNA of a prostitute was found in his van? He seemed to be a Stonyroyd Lane regular, it could have been from a previous meeting between them, and doesn't mean he killed her. And being a bit of a wrong 'un, is it that surprising he had the number of Lynn Dewhurst? He and Tommy Lee Royce might even have been mates. And OK, he threatened Leonie with a broken bottle — but he could have just been trying to frighten her.

He's a nasty piece of work, and deserves to go back inside for what he did to Leonie, but serial killer? I'm not convinced.

Neil Ackroyd

Neil Ackroyd (CON O'NEILL)

Neil came strolling out of the corner shop he works in and back into Clare's life, and the two have been an item ever since. But as we get to know more about Neil, some viewers seem to think there's more to him than meets the eye. Could Neil be the killer?

It would be one heck of a twist — but it's not too far-fetched. Let's look at the clues:

  • He's seemingly terrified of Catherine and goes out of his way to avoid her — he obviously doesn't want to get too close to a copper, has he got something to hide?
  • He went off the rails after his wife found out about his affair, lost his job and hit the bottle. Could his downward spiral have gone as far as murder?
  • He's seriously reluctant about speaking to police. Despite having been humiliated by Vicky Fleming in the same way John Wadsworth was, he won't tell police about his history with her now she's been murdered — claiming it's too painful;
  • He's been hurt by a woman before — could Vicky have driven him to violent revenge?

He's been sat at Catherine's table, supped her tea, stayed the night... could the killer have been under Catherine's nose all this time? Is Clare safe? There's no hard evidence yet, but you have to admit, Neil has always seemed a bit shifty...

READ MORE: Fingers point to Neil as Happy Valley serial killer — Here's what you said

The Knezoviches


Ilinka is convinced the Knezoviches are behind everything bad happening to her friends and other vulnerable women at the moment — is she right?

Were they giving orders to the traffickers? Is Ilinka right when she says the Halifax mafia family murdered the man found in the park a consequence for getting caught? It makes sense — if something had gone wrong and some women had been murdered by their captors, or a member of the Knezovich family, they would want to make sure anyone caught by police kept their mouths shut — in this case permanently.

But I have a feeling pinning the whole shebang on a Halifax crime family we've yet to see a single member of would be a bit of a cop out — while I don't doubt they were involved in trafficking these women, I don't know why they'd kill off their own slave workforce.

John Wadsworth

John Wadsworth (KEVIN DOYLE)

John is the only confirmed murderer of the series so far — so could he have killed before?

To be honest, the idea that he's the serial killer is laugable. His hasty killing of Vicky Fleming had to be his first time, why else would he be so rubbish at it? His decision to copy the details from the other murders, somewhat clumsily, has left him lurching between a small ray of hope that it's going to be pinned on Balmforth, and sheer panic that he forgot a vital step in covering his tracks. Can you imagine if he'd killed others too? He'd be even paler than he is already. John's a one-woman man when it comes to murder, I reckon.

Daryl Garrs

Daryl Garrs (ROBERT EMMS)
Daryl Garrs (ROBERT EMMS)

A bit of an outsider at the moment, but not ruled out of the suspects' line-up. Daryl has already shown violent tendancies, and was under a lot of pressure... could he have taken his rage out on others too? Was his reluctance to give DNA to the police out of fear he'd be linked with the murders? And why on earth did he have all that rope (and that hammer) in the back of his van?

Then again, does poor bullied Darryl really have it in him? He doesn't look like the type who goes out a lot, to be honest, and mum Alison seems to have him on a tight leash. It would be a surprise if Daryl was the killer.

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