For around 300 dollars a night, lonely gay men could rent out 40-year-old Stephen Port. A gangly man at 6’5” with sandy blonde hair, Port was willing to submit to practically any of his customers’ desires, the only catch was that the night those customers spent with Port may have been their last.
Using the online dating app Grindr, Port was able to lure at least four men to their doom. All of the men were in their 20s and were believed to have been murdered by Port between June of 2014 until September of 2015, Port was able to evade capture by authorities and fulfill his sick desires without suspicion.
Using the date rape drug GHB, Port poisoned his alleged victims. Authorities believed the deaths of the young men to have been due to accidental drug overdoses and never fully investigated the matter. When it was discovered that three of the men had been left within a cemetery close to where Port had resided, police decided to reexamine the cases and investigate the potential murders. Port was apprehended several weeks later.
Anthony Walgate was attending a fashion design school in Middlesex when he was found in the early morning hours of June 19, 2014. Discovered dead in the middle of the road, police immediately suspected drugs and alcohol and requested a toxicology test. Results determined that Walgate had a high amount of GHB within his system and ruled his death accidental. He was the first of three more victims to follow.
22-year-old Gabriel Kovari would be the next to allegedly fall victim to Stephen Port. The Slovakian artist was found by a dog walker near a grave in St. Margaret’s Church cemetery. Within the same month, the dog walker, Barbara Denham, stumbled across Port’s third alleged victim. 21-year-old Daniel Witworth was also found slumped upright in the cemetery grounds of St. Margaret’s. Like Walgate, the two men found at St. Margaret’s also tested positive for GHB.
Jack Taylor, the fourth alleged victim of Port, was a night shift forklift operator. Like the others, it is believed that Port lured Taylor to his Cooke Street apartment with promises of sexual activity. There he gave the man a lethal dose of GHB before dumping the body just 300 feet from where his prior two victims were left. All of the men were found to have been left in close proximity to the flat Port had been renting at the time.
Port’s case is still awaiting trial, but in light of the allegations, cases such as these serve as a reminder on taking caution with who we choose to meet online. In today’s day and age it is easy to find a companion with just a swipe of a finger, but it is also important that we get to know these companions before agreeing to meeting with them in private.
It is easy for us to stress the potential dangers of meeting with people online to children and young adults, but we also have to keep in mind to take the same precautions for ourselves. Never agree to meet someone in private if it is your first time meeting with this person. Agree to meet at a neutral place where plenty of people will be present. Always carry a fully charged cellphone, do not leave drinks unattended, and do not agree to ride together. Taking these basic safety tips into consideration can prevent future murder cases, such as those allegedly committed by Port. Stranger danger is just as real for adults as it is for children.