In the heart of Bradford’s red light district a man called Stephen Griffith’s once prowled the streets with his long leather coat, slicked black-hair and sunglasses looking for his next victim who would be a sex worker.
He was regarded as a harmless odd ball by his neighbours and nicked named the Lizard man. The 40 year old lived alone in a converted stone mill and those who knew him would consider him to be a friendly but eccentric guy. Well this was until one morning in may when a caretaker looked at the CCTV footage of Griffith’s committing a heinous and unthinkable crime. This is the story of the crossbow cannibal.
Born on Christmas eve 1969 in West Yorkshire, Stephen was the eldest of three children. His mother was a telephonist and his father was a frozen food salesman. His parents marriage ended and the children stay with there mother, Moira Dewhirst, in her council house. Moira was later convicted of benefit fraud.
When Stephen was a teenager he would make shoplifting a recurring thing. Once a manager tried to stop him from shoplifting but Stephen was not having it and Image result for knifeturned around plunging a knife into him. He was arrested and sentenced to three years in youth custody. He was only 17 at the time and lost all contact to his family.
On a few occasions Stephen told his probation offices that he fantasied about serial killing but nothing came from it. It would only be another three years after leaving custody that he would be back. In 1989 he was convicted of possessing an offensive weapon which was an air pistol that he used to shoot birds that he would go on to dissect.
To following year he get sentenced to a two year prison sentence of affray after he held a knife to a young girls throat. He had no signs of psychotic illness or a treatable mental disorder he could not be sectioned under the mental Health Act. He never got a job and survived on benefits and grants. He manages to gain a degree in psychology.
Over time He began to buy books online about Jack the ripper, the moors murders and Image result for the crossbow cannibal homeone of his idols Peter Sutcliffe.
When he reached age 27 he moved to a one bedroom flat in Holmfield Court in Bradford which is on the edge of Bradford’s red light district he could witness a flurry of prostitutes walking down the nearby Throton Road.
1998 marked the start of a two year relationship for Stephen. It took a while before he invited his girlfriend in to his flat. She automatically sensed that something was wrong as everything including the carpet was covered in plastic. She manages to make up an excuse and leave and permanently exits the relationship. She could have been his first victim but she got lucky.
In 2001 he was in an abusive relationship with a woman who managed to escape his violent behaviour. She may have managed to get out but his behaviour towards her would continue for years afterwards. He would spray ‘slag’ on her wall when she’s away on holiday and leaving threatening messages on her voice mail. One such message stated “I’m not going away. So I guess you’d better.”
At the age of 43 Susan Rushworth was a grandmother who was a heroin addict who had been selling her self on the street for three years to support her drug abuse.Image result for Susan Rushworth
She was not always this desperate, at the age of twenty she married and has children. There marriage breaks down but she was still on a good note as she moved on to the another loving relationship but at age 35 this one beaks down to. After this she has another few men in her life and one of these men got her hooked on heroin and the spiral of disaster starts.
Her worried mother, Christine helped her daughter pay for rehab but unfortunately it only took a few months for he to get back on drugs.
On the 22nd of June 2009, Susan left her mums home at 1 pm and never returned. Her mother tried to call her on her mobile but there was no answer which was very unusual as she always kept in contact with her mother. Christine called the police and the hunt began. Every possible witness was interviewed including prostitutes and drug dealers, near by woodland was searched from top to bottom and a near by lake was even drained but nothing was found. Her brother starts his own enquires which included questioning one of Stephens next victims Shelley Armitage.
The next victim was Shelly Armitage, growing up she went to a catholic school, Image result for Shelley Armitagewanting to be a model who travels the world. When she was young she was care free and completely full of life. Unknown to her was her future which was far from her dreams. By the age of 31 she was a prostitute walking the streets of Bradford, one road she would walk down would be Thornton road.
She had an addiction of herion by the age of 16 and this is why the carefree bubbly child turned to the streets to supply her addiction like most over prostitutes do.
It was lunch time on the 26 April 2010 when Shelly bumps into her parents out shopping, this was the last time they spoke to there daughter and the last ever time they saw her. The police are called when Shelly does not turn up at her boyfriends later on in the day and Shelly never turned up for her benefits pay out.
In hopes of someone knowing where Shelly was the police released CCTV of Shelly walking the streets of Bradford but nothing came of it. The police had to search for another missing girl in less than 12 months.
The next victim is Suzanne Blamires, she was born and bred in Bradford and was another Image result for Suzanne Blamiresvictim of recreational drugs. She was training to be a nurse before she started partying heavily where her habit began at the age of 21. When she was 25 she started prostitution to keep the habit going. Her street name was ‘Amber’ and when her mother found out about her life choices this did not stop them from reoccurring.
On 21 may 2010, now aged 36, her mother dropped her off at her flat in the early hours of the morning. Suzane would normally ring her mother in the evening but this never happened that night, and the next at about 4pm, her boyfriend, Gregg, knocks on the mothers door asking if she’s seen Suzanne. She knows instantly something is wrong. And for the third time the police are called to hunt down a third missing woman.
The arrest of Griffith came three days after the disappearance of Suzanne Blamires. The caretaker of the flat where Griffith’s lives, regularly checks the CCTV footage for petty crimes and was reviewing the tapes from the weekend when he witnessed a terrifying sight.
At the beginning of the tape from the third floor he sees Griffith’s leading a woman into his flat, a few moments later the same woman running out in serious distress. A few seconds later Griffith’s comes out with a crossbow in his hand, he fires and misses and then fires again hitting her in the head. He then holds up his crossbow like a trophy towards the CCTV camera. After dragging her body by the legs back into his flat he comes out with a can of drink, holds it up to the camera and sticks up his finger. As the CCTV carried on, Griffith’s can be seen going back and forth carrying bin bags and a rucksack.
On the Monday the caretaker called the police at 1 pm, they sent out the armed response unit to arrest him when they took him away he makes a remark stating that ‘I’m Osama bin Laden.’The police search his flat and they find two crossbows with bolts and books stacked high about serial killers.The flat was in a bit of a mess as there were missing tiles and ripped up carpets which would indicate that he had tried to clear away any evidence of his crimes. The next afternoon a distraught member of public discovers something very disturbing , they discovered a woman’s head and other body parts in a rucksack on the banks of the River Aire, five miles north of Griffith’s flat. The crossbow bolt and knife are still embedded in the head. The head has been skinned and close by there was a bag full of hacksaws and knives used to dismember bodies.
On 28 May 2010 at the Bradford magistrates Griffith’s appears for his first court date. One tabloid had refereed to him as the ‘crossbow cannibal’ so when asked what his full name was by the court he replied ‘the crossbow cannibal’ knowing that he would be front page news and another straightforward question asked by the court was what is your address? and he replied ‘Em, here I guess.’ making sure that everyone knew he had no remorse.
It wasn’t until his 21 December 2010 when Griffith’s trial took place in Leeds Crown Court. He was standing in the dock surrounded by 5 guards, he was wearing a grey tracksuit. Mr Justice Openshaw tells the court that the defendant’s mental health has been carefully examined and there’s ‘no question that he was fit to plead.’ For the second time the families had to listen to the vial things that there daughters had been through.
Through out the trial Griffith’s would fold his arms and thrown showing no respect or remorse to the families of his victims. Susan Rushworth’s body was not found but her DNA was found in his bathroom and bedroom through blood stains. Another disturbing discovery by the forensic team was DNA on the cooker which belonged to Shelly Armitage and Susan Rushworth which would suggest that he had cooked them before eating them.
The trial only went on for two hours and twenty minutes because Griffith’s pleaded guilty although his lawyer tried to pass his crimes of as being down to a mental disorder that he had twenty years previously. Although with this last ditch attempt at getting Griffith’s a lesser sentence did not work as he was sentenced to three life sentences. The judge insist that he will never be released.