Grady Stiles Jr. was born a human oddity. Coming from a long linage of carnival workers and born with a rare genetic defect called ectrodactyly, it wouldn’t be long before his father, best known by his stage name “Lobster Man”, would begin taking young Grady on long trips across the country traveling with a carnival freak show. It was through the carnival that Stiles’ persona of “Lobster Boy” was born.
Stiles Jr. would spend most of his young life on the road. Hearing the crowds ohh and ahh over his unusual pincer-like hands and feet that folded inwards towards his pelvis– forcing him to walk on the tips of his four articulated fingers– in each new town the carnival rolled through that week. Though always a crowd pleaser, once the bright lights faded and the curtain fell, Lobster Boy found himself completely and utterly alone.
However, life wasn’t always lonely for the Lobster Boy. Lobster Boy began to grow into a lobster man and would eventually meet his wife, Mary. Mary ran away from home at 19 and hoped to travel with the carnival. Though she didn’t have a beard, nor did she swallow goldfish, she made her home with the human sideshow attractions and fell madly in love with Stiles Jr., in spite of his deformities.
By this time the public’s attitude on putting human beings on display as a form of entertainment began to shift and the freak show phenomena became a slowly dying spectacle. Lobster Boy continued to tour occasionally with others he had become acquainted with through his years of traveling with the carnival, but by and large fell into retirement. He and Mary had several children, two of which were born with the same genetic deformities as Grady.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, I am the Lobster Boy. This condition is not caused by drugs or diseases. It runs in the family.”
He attempted to revive his career by traveling with his two children, also born with ectrodactyly, as “The Lobster Family”. Unfortunately, the carnival freak show circuit was nothing like it was in its heyday and the show was met with low attendance records. Most of the time the family could be found within their rural home of Gibsonton, FL.
Behind closed doors, Stiles struggled with alcoholism and Mary was often the brunt of Stiles’ violent drunken outbursts. Mary claimed that Stiles would wake up around 8am, start drinking at 10am, and by the time he emerged from his bedroom at 1pm he was a completely different person. Having used his arms and hands for mobility, Stiles possessed an amazing amount of upper body strength, which he would use to the fullest extent when in the midst of his drunken rages.
Stiles’ wife and children lived in fear of him, constantly walking on eggshells as to not upset him, lest they wished to feel his wrath. He has been described by his own son, Stiles III, as “Satan himself”. In 1973, Mary left Stiles after he threw her to the ground and ripped out her intrauterine device. She married another man, but for unknown reasons she returned to Stiles and to the domestic abuse.
In 1979, Stiles’ daughter Donna told Stiles that she had fallen madly in love with a man and wished to marry him. Stiles asked Donna if he could meet with her new fiancée in private and the man agreed to meet him in Pittsburgh. When Stiles arrived, he and the man walked into Donna’s fiancée’s home. A few minutes later she heard a shot and the man came stumbling out of the home.
Donna’s fiancée was dead. A jury found Stiles guilty of murdering his daughter’s fiancée, but due to Stiles’ medical conditions, no prison would be able to accommodate him. Instead Stiles was ordered to serve 15 years probation.
His court sentence was no deterrent, and Stiles continued to drink and and abuse Mary. Mary decided she was fed up with Stiles and talked her son, Harry, into offering someone $1,500 to kill her husband.
On November 29, 1992, as Stiles was sitting in his living room watching a movie, 17-year-old Christopher Wyatt walked inside Stiles’ trailer and shot him in the head. Neither his wife, whom had hired the hit man, nor is children cried over the news of Stiles’ death.
Stiles’ murderer was sentenced to 27 years in prison. Harry was also found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Mary, who had ordered the hit on her husband, had been sentenced to serve only 12 years.