Bradford murders

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Stephen Griffiths
Born
Stephen Shaun Griffiths

(1969-12-24) 24 December 1969 (age 52)
Other namesStephen Griffiths.
Alma materUniversity of Bradford
Conviction(s)Murder
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment (whole life order)
Details
Victims3+
Span of crimes
22 June 2009 – 21 May 2010
CountryEngland
Date apprehended
24 May 2010

The Bradford murders were the serial killings of three women in the city of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England in 2009 and 2010.

43-year-old Susan Rushworth disappeared on 22 June 2009, followed by 31-year-old Shelley Armitage on 26 April 2010 and 36-year-old Suzanne Blamires on 21 May of the same year.[1] The women were all sex workers based in Bradford.[2] Parts of Blamires's body were found in the River Aire in Shipley, near Bradford, on 25 May. Other human tissue found in the same river was later established to belong to Armitage. No remains of Rushworth were ever found.[3][4]

Stephen Shaun Griffiths, 40, was arrested on 24 May and subsequently charged with killing the three women.[5] After being found guilty, he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life order.[6]

Conviction of Stephen Griffiths[edit]

Stephen Shaun Griffiths (born 24 December 1969 in Dewsbury, West Riding of Yorkshire) was arrested and in May 2010 he appeared in the magistrates' court giving his name as the Crossbow Cannibal.[7][8]

At a Crown Court appearance that afternoon he was remanded in custody until his next court appearance.[9] He made a second appearance at the Crown Court on 7 June via a video link from Wakefield Prison where a trial date of 16 November 2010 was set.[10]

On 21 December 2010, Griffiths was convicted of all three murders after pleading guilty. At Leeds Crown Court the same day, Mr Justice Openshaw sentenced Griffiths to life imprisonment with a whole life order, meaning he will not become eligible for parole and is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison.[6][11][12] While in prison, Griffiths has attempted suicide on several occasions.[13][14] As of 2011, he had been on a two-month hunger strike, during which time he avoided contact with other people.[15]

Post trial statements[edit]

Griffiths' criminal history included a three-year sentence, when aged 17, for an unprovoked knife attack on a supermarket manager.[16] While in custody, he stated that he saw himself becoming a murderer, and psychiatrists warned that he fantasised about becoming a serial killer.[16] In 1991, he was diagnosed as a "schizoid psychopath" and the following year received a two-year prison sentence for holding a knife to the throat of a girl.[16]

In 2009, Griffiths was admitted to the University of Bradford to write a PhD in homicide studies.[17]

Police had been watching Griffiths for two years before he killed his victims and had already seized hunting weapons.[18] The police contacted the housing association which owns the flat in which Griffiths lived after he was observed reading books on dismemberment.[18] The housing association shared the police's concerns and fitted a better CCTV system in anticipation of an incident. At the time of the murders, police had no evidence for an Anti-Social Behaviour Order.[18]

Government reaction[edit]

David Cameron, the then new Conservative prime minister, said the murders were a "terrible shock". He said the decriminalisation of offences related to prostitution should be "looked at again", but he also added that: "I don't think we should jump to conclusions on this – there are all sorts of problems that decriminalisation would bring." Later, aides close to Cameron strongly insisted he was concerned with addressing the social problems surrounding it such as encouraging agencies to work together to help women off the streets or to combat drug addiction.[19] Cameron has also called for tougher action on kerb-crawling and drug abuse.[19][20] The debate as to whether a change in the law would protect sex workers soon came into question.[21]

Other possible victims of Griffiths[edit]

When he was arrested and interviewed by police in 2010, Griffiths claimed to officers to have killed a total of five sex workers in Bradford, suggesting there were two additional victims unaccounted for.[22] However, after his conviction for the three murders in that year he refused to speak to police any longer, effectively meaning he could not be investigated for further murders.[22]

Murder of Rebecca Hall[edit]

Rebecca Hall
Rebecca Hall 2001 murder victim.jpg
Hall before she died
Born
Rebecca Hall

1981 or 1982
DisappearedApril 13, 2001
Little Horton, Bradford
StatusFound dead on 26 April 2001
Diedc. 13 April 2001 (date of disappearance)
Unknown
Cause of deathSevere head injuries[23]
Body discoveredThornton Street, Bradford 53°47′51″N 1°46′06″W / 53.79763568534913°N 1.7684399965127202°W / 53.79763568534913; -1.7684399965127202
Other namesBecky Hall
OccupationSex worker

When Griffiths was first arrested for the murders in May 2010, detectives immediately investigated possible links to the 2001 murder of 19-year-old Bradford prostitute Rebecca Hall, who had been found dead in a car park only 800m from Griffiths' Holmfield Court flat (the same address which he was living at during his killing spree in 2009 and 2010).[24][22] Griffiths knew Hall and she was known to regularly visit his flat.[22] After his conviction in 2010, it was revealed that police had questioned Griffiths on the murder, but he refused to answer the interviewers' questions.[25] His former partner at the time revealed that Griffiths had excitedly taken her to the place where her body was found after she was found dead, and also said that the car park was next to his doctor's surgery and pharmacy.[22] Another suspect in the murder of Hall was fellow known killer John Taylor, who had come to prominence after murdering schoolgirl Leanne Tiernan in 2000.[26] The murder was one of several cold cases to be re-opened after Taylor's conviction and he was questioned about it, in part because evidence showed Hall's body had been stored for a period after her death, which was a known hallmark of Taylor.[26][22][27]

In 2013 well-known criminologist David Wilson released a documentary on Griffiths as part of his Killers Behind Bars: The Untold Story series, in which he examined unsolved murders that could be linked to Griffiths.[22] He also linked the case of Hall to Griffiths.[22]

In 2016, police revealed they were they were reviewing the Hall case to see if recent advances in forensic science could help solve the case.[28] The former lead detective on the case revealed in 2018 that two DNA profiles had previously been extracted from Hall's clothing, but the profiles were of too poor quality at the time to determine what the full profile of the unidentified individual was.[29] Following this, in 2019, police announced the arrest of a 37-year-old woman (who would have been the same age as Hall at the time, 19).[23] The woman was released under investigation.[23]

Dawn Shields[edit]

In Wilson's 2013 documentary, he also examined whether Griffiths could be linked to the murder of Sheffield prostitute Dawn Shields in May 1994.[22] However, he concluded that a link was unlikely.[22] The prime suspect in her murder was multiple prostitute killer Alun Kyte, who killed two prostitutes in December 1993 and March 1994 and was suspected of many more murders of prostitutes around Britain.[30]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bradford murders timeline". The Guardian. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  2. ^ Carter, Helen (27 May 2010). "The Bradford sex workers Stephen Griffiths is accused of killing". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  3. ^ "Trial date set for Bradford accused". Evening Standard. 7 June 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Vigil for Bradford deaths women". BBC News. 11 June 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Stephen Griffiths charged with murder of three prostitutes". The Daily Telegraph. London. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Crossbow Cannibal given life term for Bradford murders". BBC News. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  7. ^ "Bradford accused gives name as 'crossbow cannibal'". BBC News Online. London, England: BBC. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
  8. ^ "I am the crossbow cannibal, says prostitute murders suspect". Metro. London, England: DMG Media. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
  9. ^ Gripton, John (28 May 2010). "'Crossbow Cannibal' Appears In Court". Sky News. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Bradford women deaths trial date fixed". BBC News Online. BBC. 7 June 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  11. ^ Carter, Helen (22 December 2010). "'Crossbow Cannibal' could continue criminology studies in prison". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  12. ^ Brown, Jonathan (22 December 2010). "Sentenced to life, the crossbow killer who ate his victims". The Independent. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  13. ^ Carter, Helen (21 December 2010). "Stephen Griffiths: the self-styled demon who drew inspiration from serial killers". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  14. ^ Penrose, Justin (30 May 2012). ""Crossbow Cannibal" Stephen Griffiths slashes wrists after being handed razor blade by inmate". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Crossbow Cannibal Stephen Griffiths 'skin and bones' following hunger strike". The Daily Telegraph. 4 January 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  16. ^ a b c Johnston, Philip (22 December 2010). "Crossbow Cannibal: No one is safe from the menace of pure evil". The Daily Telegraph. London, England. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  17. ^ Dalrymple, Theodore (28 December 2010). "Murder most academic: A British Ph.D. candidate puts 'homicide studies' into practice". City Journal. New York City: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  18. ^ a b c Alleyne, Richard (2011). "Crossbow Cannibal was a known 'serial killer' in the making". The Daily Telegraph. London, England. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  19. ^ a b Edwards, Richard; Whitehead, Tom (29 May 2010). "David Cameron calls for laws on legalising prostitution to be 'looked at'". Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  20. ^ "David Cameron pledges 'look at' prostitution law". BBC News. 29 May 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  21. ^ Buckler, Chris (28 December 2010). "Acpo calls for debate over prostitution laws". BBC News. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j David Wilson (21 March 2013). "Killers Behind Bars: The Untold Story - Stephen Griffiths" (TV Documentary). Channel 5. Retrieved 29 October 2021.
  23. ^ a b c "Woman arrested in Rebecca Hall cold case murder inquiry". BBC News. 16 January 2019. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  24. ^ "Man arrested over Bradford women murders". BBC News. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  25. ^ Carter, Helen (1 June 2010). "Bradford murders: Stephen Griffiths questioned about teenager's death". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  26. ^ a b Herbert, Ian (18 January 2014). "Murderer questioned about sex attacks". The Independent. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  27. ^ Wainwright, Martin (6 February 2003). "Police interrogate sex strangler". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  28. ^ "Detectives review Becky Hall cold case murder". BBC News. 13 April 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  29. ^ "COLD CASE FILES: Forensic hope for unsolved 2001 murder of Rebecca Hall". The Telegraph and Argus. 19 November 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  30. ^ "Prostitute killer jailed". BBC News. 14 March 2000. Retrieved 28 October 2021.