A man who dubbed himself “the crossbow cannibal” was jailed for life on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to the gruesome murder of three women who worked as prostitutes in northern England.
Criminology student Stephen Griffiths (40) admitted killing Suzanne Blamires (36), Shelley Armitage (31) and Susan Rushworth (43) in his home, which he turned into a “slaughterhouse”.
“The circumstances of these murders are so wicked and monstrous they leave me in no doubt the defendant should be kept in prison for the rest of his life,” said the judge, Justice Peter Openshaw. “He has never said he regretted his actions or said in even the most perfunctory way he was sorry.”
Prosecutor Robert Smith told Leeds Crown Court that a caretaker whose job it was to review closed circuit TV filmed at the apartment block where Griffiths lived, saw Blamires running out of the killer’s home with him in pursuit in May this year.
She was later seen being dragged on the floor by her leg by Griffiths, who had something in his hand, the prosecutor added. The court was told the woman was shot with a crossbow before Griffiths gestured to the CCTV camera, the Press Association reported.
The former public schoolboy, who was obsessed with serial killers, admitted to killing Blamires in the flat and dismembering her by hand, while power tools had been used on the other victims.
“It was just a slaughterhouse in the bathtub,” Griffiths told police officers. He also claimed to have eaten raw parts of flesh of Blamires. “That’s part of the magic,” he told police, adding he was studying for a PhD in homicide.
He sat motionless in the dock as the court heard further gruesome details. Smith said 81 different pieces of Blamires were found in or by the River Aire in Shipley, while a broken knife and a crossbow bolt were embedded in her severed head.
The court was told he had a number of disturbing videos and images, including one of Armitage lying dead in the bath.
Griffiths said when he was arrested: “I’m Osama bin Laden”, and told officers on another occasion: “I’ve killed a lot more than Suzanne Blamires — I’ve killed loads.”
During his first court appearance earlier this year after being charged with the murders, the former public schoolboy stated his name was “the crossbow cannibal”.
The murder investigation rekindled memories of “Yorkshire Ripper” Peter Sutcliffe, named after the notorious Victorian murderer “Jack the Ripper”, who was blamed for killing five women in east London in 1888 but never found.
Bradford lorry driver Sutcliffe (63) was jailed for life in 1981 for the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven others during a five-year killing spree in the 1970s and 80s when he mainly targeted prostitutes around northern England. “Peter Sutcliffe came a cropper in Sheffield,” Griffiths told police in one interview. “So did I, but at least I got out of the city.”
Police said they hoped his conviction would bring some comfort to his victims’ families.
“Stephen Griffiths is a coward and we are shocked he pleaded guilty as it is not something I thought he would have the courage to do,” said Blamires’s mother, Suzanne.
“Quite simply no family deserves what we have gone through. All of these girls were people’s daughters and much-loved human beings.”
Shelley Armitage’s mother, Gill, commented: “Her death will haunt us for the rest of our lives.” — Reuters