Steve Wright (serial killer)
24 April 1958 |
Erpingham, Norfolk, England
|Other names||The Suffolk Strangler|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment, with recommendation of a whole life tariff|
|Conviction(s)||5 counts of murder|
Span of killings
|30 October 2006–9 December 2006|
|19 December 2006|
Steven Gerald James Wright (born 24 April 1958) is an English serial killer, also known as The Suffolk Strangler. He is currently serving life imprisonment for the murder of five women who worked as sex-workers in Ipswich, Suffolk. The killings took place during late 2006 and Wright was found guilty in February 2008.
Wright was born in the Norfolk village of Erpingham, the second of four children of military policeman Conrad and veterinary nurse Patricia. He has an older brother, David, and two younger sisters, Jeanette and Tina. While Wright's father was on military service, the family had lived in both Malta and Singapore. Wright's mother left in 1964 when he was 6; his father divorced his mother in 1977; both later remarried. Wright and his siblings lived with their father, who fathered a son, Keith, and daughter, Natalie, with his second wife, Valerie.
Wright left school in 1974 and soon afterwards joined the Merchant Navy, becoming a chef on ferries sailing from Felixstowe, Suffolk. In 1978 in Milford Haven, he married Angela O'Donovan. They had a son, Michael. The couple separated in 1987, and later divorced. Wright became a steward on the QE2, a lorry driver, a barman and, just prior to his arrest, a forklift truck driver. Former sex-worker Lindi St Clair said she was attacked by Steve Wright in the 1980s. His second marriage was to 32-year-old Diane Cassell at Braintree register office in August 1987. They split in July 1988 while he was a pub landlord in Norwich.
He was in a relationship with Sarah Whiteley from 1989–1993, and they had a daughter together, born in 1992. It was during this time that he also managed a public house in South London. This post was lost due to his gambling and heavy drinking. He was convicted in 2001 of theft, stealing £80 to pay off his debts. This was his only criminal conviction prior to the murders.
It is known that throughout these times Wright built up large debts largely through gambling, and had recently been declared bankrupt. Wright had twice tried to commit suicide, first by carbon monoxide poisoning in his car in 1994; secondly in 2000, by an overdose of pills. A Thai woman, Somchit Chomphusaeng, claimed that she married Wright in Thailand in 1999. However, after their two week honeymoon, he flew back to Britain and she received a letter, supposedly from his mother, informing her that he had been stabbed to death. When shown photographs of Wright, after his arrest in Ipswich, his Thai "widow" gasped: "Oh my God! That's my husband!" before fainting. Later, she said: "It must be his ghost. I was told he'd been murdered."
The Suffolk murders
Wright met Pamela Wright (the shared surname is a coincidence) in 2001 in Felixstowe and they moved to the house in Ipswich together in 2004. Wright had always admitted that he used sex-workers and had done since he was in the Merchant Navy, and continually throughout his life. In Ipswich he admitted he went to certain massage and sauna establishments that were actually brothels. Throughout his trial he had stated that he had used professional sex-workers on many occasions, including three of the victims and when his partner began working night shifts and their sex life became almost non-existent, he returned to using professional sex-workers who were based on the nearby streets, procuring a dozen in the final three months of 2006.
Between 30 October and 10 December 2006, Wright murdered five sex-workers in Ipswich. Forensic evidence led to his arrest on 19 December. At the time of the murders Wright was working as a forklift truck driver. He was found guilty of all five murders on 21 February 2008. On the following day, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and the judge recommended that he should never be released.
Prostitutes nicknamed him "Mondeo Man" and "Silver-Backed Gorilla", because of his hair colour and stocky build, and some said he liked dressing up in tight women's clothing, and wearing a black curly wig. Tiny flecks of blood were found on the back seats of Steve Wright's Ford Mondeo, and partially matched the DNA profile of Paula Clennell.
Wright is still being investigated in connection with other unsolved murders and disappearances. He is one of a number of high-profile murderers or sex offenders to have been identified as possible suspects in the Suzy Lamplugh case; he had worked with Lamplugh on the QE2 ocean liner during the early 1980s. Lamplugh went missing in London in July 1986 and was legally declared dead in 1994, but her body has never been found. However, the Metropolitan Police have stated that this is not a strong line of enquiry.
Cleveland Police have not ruled out a link between Wright and the murder of Vicky Glass, a heroin addict who vanished from Middlesbrough in September 2000. Her naked body was later found in a stream on the North York Moors.
- Sandra Laville and Esther Addley (20 December 2006). "Girlfriend insists new suspect is innocent as forensic teams search their home". London: Guardian. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- McVeigh, Karen (21 February 2008). "My anger is buried deep inside". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 February 2008.
- Profile of a serial killer (20 June 2008). "BBC profile". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- Allen, Nick (21 February 2008). "Steve Wright: A real Jekyll and Hyde". London: Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- "Ipswich Killings Trials". East Anglian Daily Times. 25 February 2008. Retrieved 25 February 2008.
- "The ex-wife's story". London: Dailymail.co.uk. 22 February 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- O'Neil, S., He was rude and aggressive, but no-one's idea of a killer; The Times, London, 22 February 2008
- "Wright 'attacked former sex-worker'". BBC. 27 February 2008. Retrieved 27 February 2008.
- "Suffolk strangler Steve Wright jailed for 'whole life term'". Philippe Naughton (London: The Times). 22 February 2008.
- "Steve Wright To Appeal". London: The Sun. 19 March 2008.
- "Serial killer drops appeal case". BBC News. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- "Flecks of blood found in Wright's car". edp24.co.uk. 31 January 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
- Batty, Dave; agencies (22 February 2008). "Police investigate 'link' between Wright and Suzy Lamplugh". The Guardian (London: Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 22 February 2008.
- "Wright 'not linked to Suzy death'". BBC News (BBC). 14 May 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2008.
- "Motive still unknown as serial killer faces rest of life in prison", The Guardian, 22 February 2008.
- Ipswich serial killer Steve Wright, ITV Local