In this article:
- Stephen Griffiths of Yorkshire, England murdered three sex workers, all of them with a crossbow, between 2009 and 2010.
- After killing them, Griffiths would dismember them, eat parts of their bodies, and then dispose of the other parts of their bodies in a nearby river.
- During his final murder, he was caught on CCTV footage, at which point he turned around and flipped his middle finger to the camera. This was the footage that eventually led to his arrest.
Trigger warning: Violence and death.
Most serial killers that achieve worldwide infamy do so by adding some defining characteristic to their murders.
Some have a particular thing that they leave behind at the scene of the crime (sort of like the playing cards left behind by The Joker from the Batman series). Others dress themselves up in some sort of way, such as John Wayne Gacy who became notorious for his clown costume.
Others have a signature murder weapon, like the bolt pistol (a weapon used to stun animals before slaughter) used by Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men.
Stephen Griffiths, a serial killer who murdered three women in 2009 and 2010, preferred an equally terrifying weapon: the crossbow.
While many serial killers become infamous for the number of people that they killed, Stephen Griffiths gained his notoriety for other reasons. First of all, he killed all of his victims with a crossbow.
Secondly, he showed no remorse whatsoever for what he had done after he was caught. In fact, he seemed proud of his actions, even giving himself the nickname “The Crossbow Cannibal” during one of his court hearings.
Plus, after he was caught killing his third victim on a CCTV camera, he proudly brandished a middle finger directly at the camera lens.
Stephen Griffiths also seemed to be a student of serial killing, idolizing past murders, studying criminology at university, and even claiming that he wanted to become a serial killer before he ever killed.
Despite the horrific nature of his murders and cannibalism, what may have been most terrifying about Stephen Griffiths was his attitude of ruthless indifference toward human life.
Griffiths idolized serial killers the way that other people idolize famous singers or athletes. He thought of killing as an achievement. In my opinion, it’s this attitude toward murder that makes the story of The Crossbow Cannibal truly terrifying.
Stephen Griffiths, the Early Years
Stephen Shaun Griffiths was born in 1969 in Yorkshire, England to his father, a frozen food salesman, and his mother, a telephonist.
His parents divorced when Stephen was 13, leaving him to stay with his mother, an unstable woman with a criminal record. Apparently, on at least one occasion, Stephen would watch his mother have sex with multiple men in the garden.
During his teenage years, Griffiths descended into petty crime. He would shoplift from stores and steal from classmates. However, when he was 17 years old, Griffith used a knife to slash the face of a store clerk that tried to stop him from shoplifting.
This offense got Griffiths sentenced to three years in youth custody.
While in prison, Stephen Griffiths divulged to prison guards and psychiatrists that he fantasized about being a serial killer. This probably should have been warning enough to keep Stephen Griffiths under close surveillance. But after his sentence was complete, he was released back onto the streets with limited supervision.
In 1989, Griffiths was sentenced to 100 hours of community service for carrying an air pistol, which he used to kill birds that he would later dissect. Again, this is classic serial killer behavior and probably should have raised some red flags.
Then, in 1991, he was diagnosed as a “schizoid psychopath.” And, in 1992, he was sentenced to two years in prison for holding a knife to the throat of a young girl.
After he was released from prison this time, he really ramped up his interest in serial killers. He began taking out a bunch of books about his favorite murders. A personal favorite of Griffiths was Peter Sutcliffe, the so-called “Yorkshire Ripper” who was convicted of the murder of 13 women, most of them sex workers.
In 2001, Griffiths started buying up a bunch of pet lizards, including a four-foot-long monitor lizard. According to his neighbors, he would walk them around on leashes and even take them to nightclubs.
One witness also claimed that he saw Griffiths eat a live baby rat during this time period.
In 2003, Stephen Griffiths earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Bradford and then enrolled in a Ph.D. program in homicide studies a year later.
During this time, he was also very active on the internet, downloading violent pornography and leaving foreboding messages on his MySpace page, on which he went by the alias Ven Pariah (a character from demonology).
Hatred Bound Tightly in Flesh
Stephen Griffiths was a student of serial killing. He read true accounts of serial killers incessantly. He read fictional novels about serial killers. Many quotes from these real and fictional serial killers as well as his own twisted thoughts were posted all over his Ven Pariah MySpace page.
This MySpace page seemed to be an expression of his violent alter-ego, one that would eventually take action. In fact, the night before killing one of his victims, he posted:
“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.”
For about a decade, Stephen Griffiths moved about the streets of Bradford, befriending the sex workers.
One of the sex workers who worked in the area at the time remarked that Griffiths didn’t seem like a dangerous man. However, during this time, he had been plotting his crimes.
In 2009, he invited Susie Rushworth, a sex worker from the area, back to his apartment. He then shot Rushworth with a crossbow, killing her, before dismembering her body in his bathtub.
The next year, he would do the very same thing with his second victim, Shelley Armitage. It is believed that he would keep parts of the victims’ bodies to eat later, sometimes cooking them and sometimes eating them raw.
The parts of the bodies that he didn’t eat were put into garbage bags and tossed into a nearby lake.
The third and final murder of Suzanne Blamires was a little bit different. Griffiths held Blamires hostage in his apartment for two days. However, she was eventually able to break free from bondage, at which point she opened the door to the apartment and ran down the hall.
Unfortunately, Griffiths chased her into the hallway, crossbow in hand, and shot and killed her as she tried to escape.
However, as Griffiths turned around, he noticed a CCTV camera that had captured the entire incident. He casually walked past the camera and flipped his middle finger in a manner that seems almost boastful.
He then gave Suzanne Blamires the same treatment that the gave the others, eating parts of her and dumping other parts of her in the lake.
After the murder of Blamires, the caretakers of Griffiths’s apartment building reviewed the CCTV footage, saw the hideous crime that had been committed, and immediately alerted law enforcement.
Shortly after, the police raided Griffiths’s apartment where he was waiting calmly for them to arrest him. Inside the apartment, the police found remnants of the victims’ bodies as well as photos of his victims, one of which clearly depicted the dead body of Shelley Armitage in the bathtub.
At his trial, Griffiths introduced himself as the “Crossbow Cannibal” and showed absolutely no remorse for the crimes he had committed. He seems to have no concern for his fellow human beings and has even said, “I’m a misanthropic. I don’t have much time for the human race.”
In December of 2010, Griffiths was convicted of all three murders and sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life order, which means he essentially has no chance for parole. Since being imprisoned, Griffiths has attempted suicide several times.