Crossbow cannibal jailed for life over 'wicked and monstrous' prostitute murders
Published 21/12/2010 | 11:28
A PhD student calling himself the Crossbow Cannibal has been jailed for life after admitting killing three prostitutes he lured to his flat in Bradford’s red-light district.
Stephen Griffiths pleaded guilty to murdering Suzanne Blamires, 36, by firing a crossbow bolt into her head when she tried to run away from him in May this year.
He also admitted murdering Shelley Armitage, 31, and Susan Rushworth, 43, but police believe he might also be responsible for three unsolved murders after he indicated in an interview that he had killed six women in total.
He claimed he had cooked and eaten parts of his first two victims, boiling one in a pot, and ate the third one raw.
Local health authorities are also facing questions over why they had released 40-year-old Griffiths from the Rampton top-security hospital after he was diagnosed with severe psychiatric problems.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of murder at Leeds Crown Court this morning. The judge, Mr Justice Openshaw, described Griffiths' crimes as "wicked and monstrous" as he jailed him for life.
Griffiths stood in the dock to enter his pleas surrounded by five security guards.
Dressed in a grey tracksuit, he said "yes" when asked to confirm his name. He then said "guilty" in a quiet voice when the clerk put each of the three charges to him. Griffiths then sat with his head on his chest.
The judge told the court the defendant's mental health had been carefully examined and there was "no question that he was fit to plead".
Prosecuting, Robert Smith QC said Griffiths had admitted to killing Ms Blamires in the flat and dismembering her by hand, while power tools had been used on the other victims.
"It was just a slaughterhouse in the bathtub," he told officers.
He told police he was studying for a PhD in homicide and he had "cut himself off from society" and a "civil war" was going on in his head.
Mr Smith also told the court 81 different pieces of Ms Blamires were found in or by the River Aire in Shipley. A broken knife and a crossbow bolt were embedded in her severed head.
Family members sobbed in court as the prosecutor revealed gruesome details of the murders.
Griffiths’ macabre crimes were uncovered after a security guard checked silent CCTV footage from the third-floor corridor in the flat where he lived during a routine check for any evidence of petty crimes.
It showed Griffiths firing a bolt into his last victim’s head, before “toasting” the death by raising a can of drink to the CCTV camera.
Griffiths videoed another of the killings on his mobile phone. He had lost it on a train, someone had picked it up and it had twice been sold on before it was traced by police.
Still on it was video footage which one senior detective described as the most disturbing he has ever seen.
It showed a dead woman thought to be Miss Armitage, naked in a bath and also “hog-tied” on cushions with her hands tied behind her. She had been sprayed with black paint with the words “My Sex Slave” on her back.
Griffiths gave a running commentary saying: “I am Ven Pariah, I am the Bloodbath Artist. Here’s a model who is assisting me.”
It allowed police to establish that Miss Armitage must have died before 1am on April 28. A small piece of her spine was found in the same stretch of river as Miss Blamires’ remains were found.
The only evidence relating to Miss Rushworth, who is thought to have been killed with a hammer, is a trace of blood found in Griffiths’ bathroom.
Griffiths was arrested by armed police immediately after they were alerted to the CCTV recording showing Miss Blamires’ death at the block of housing association flats in Holmfield Court, Bradford, in May.
It showed Griffiths walking into his one-bedroom flat with Miss Blamires, who worked locally as a prostitute. Within minutes she ran out and he gave chase, armed with a crossbow, before felling her and firing a bolt into her head.
Griffiths then turned to the camera and held the crossbow aloft in both hands in triumph before dragging the body out of view.
He re-emerged with the drink can which he showed in a celebratory way to the camera while putting one finger in the air and is later seen carrying bin bags and a rucksack in and out.
The previous night he had written on his MySpace social networking page, under the unexplained pseudonym Ven Pariah, that he had “finally emerged into the world”.
Griffiths wrote: “What will this pseudo-human do, one wonders. Poor Stephen, pretended to be me, but he was only the wrapping.
“He knew towards the end, that I supplied the inner core of iron. Hatred Bound Tightly In Flesh. At very long last, the time has come to act out.”
When his flat was searched, two crossbows and bolts were recovered from the flat, along with books on serial killers, and attempts made to clean-up with carpets lifted and tiled removed around the bath.
The next day a member of the public discovered female body parts, including a head in a rucksack, in the River Aire five miles away in Shipley.
They were identified as those of Miss Blamires, the third prostitute to be reported missing in the area within 11 months.
Also found nearby was a “killer’s kitbag”, a case containing hacksaws and knives which could be used to dismember bodies.
Griffiths was later to confess in interview: “I or part of me is responsible for killing Susan Rushworth, Shelley Armitage and Suzanne Blamires, who I know as Amber.”
Detectives have found no evidence to corroborate his claims of cannibalism, which they believe were made in an attempt to increase his own notoriety.
Griffiths was quick to seize on a tabloid headline when he made his first appearance in court accused of triple murder, stunning everyone present by giving his name as “Crossbow Cannibal”.
He also referred to himself as the “SF” killer, which again has not been explained.
Scenes of crimes officers were able, however, to discover blood traces from all three of his victims in the flat.