In May of 2010, a caretaker for a block of housing association flats in Holmfield Court, Bradford, West Yorkshire sat down to review the CCTV footage taken from security cameras within the building. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, until he saw a tenant named Stephen Griffiths enter the building accompanied by a young woman and walk into his flat. Several minutes later the woman attempted to flee.
The caretaker could only watch in horror as he witnessed Griffiths tackle the woman and beat her until she was nearly unconscious. Griffiths walked back into his flat and less than a minute later returns carrying a crossbow. He shoots the woman twice — once in her body and again in her head — before dragging her lifeless body into his personal house of horrors.
Moments later Steve realizes the building security cameras had captured everything. He returns to the hallway to posture for the camera, giving it the old one-fingered salute and holding up his crossbow. Several days later he is seen exiting the building carrying out parts of the victim’s body in various bags.
The alarmed caretaker immediately called building management and officers arrived on the scene hours later. Griffiths made no attempt to flee and was cooperative when police arrived to his flat, calmly stating, “I’m in here. I’m Osama Bin Laden.”
The following day, a person walking their dog near the River Aire spoted something floating in the water. Inside a bag the dog walker found a human head and alerted the police. Detectives were able to make a connection between the head and the CCTV footage they had reviewed and dental records were used to identify the woman as Suzanne Blamires.
Divers recovered 81 pieces of her body in the river, as well as remains belonging to another victim identified as Shelley Armitage. Griffiths confessed to the murder of both women, as well as another woman identified as Susan Rushworth. He claimed there to have been at least two more victims, but investigators were only able to connect him to the three sex workers known to frequent the area outside of Griffiths’ flat.
During his trial Griffiths introduced himself as the “Crossbow Cannibal.” The criminology student detailed how he had long obsessed with killing, particularly serial killing, and looked up to men like the Yorkshire Ripper.
He says that after killing the three women he took them into his bathroom, which he referred to as his “slaughterhouse,” where he dismembered and filleted them using knives, a sword, a hammer and various power tools. He says he then ate portions of his victims bodies – some cooked, others completely raw.
Just hours after killing Suzanne Blamires, Griffiths was caught by CCTV attempting to solicit a fourth victim. A woman standing outside of a methadone clinic was approached by Griffiths and asked to purchase him some crack cocaine so they could go back to his flat and smoke it. At first the woman agreed, but later said her “instinct” told her not to go into Griffiths’ apartment alone. She now says that she is lucky to be alive after the encounter.
Griffiths’ shocking court confession earned him three life sentences. When asked why he felt compelled to kill these women in such a horrific manner, Griffiths stated, “Sometimes you kill someone to kill yourself. It is like deep issues inside me.” He says he targeted prostitutes, not because he believed he was doing some sort of “street cleaning” as the Yorkshire Ripper believed, but because they were easy targets and he had become jaded with humanity as a whole.
We may never completely understand why a highly intelligent, highly educated man like Stephen Griffiths would turn to serial killing and cannibalism to satiate his need for power, but we can at least take comfort in knowing that Griffiths will spend the rest of his natural born life behind bars.