Stephen Griffiths, the notorious “crossbow cannibal,” killed several prostitutes with a crossbow, cut off their heads, and celebrated their deaths by dining on their flesh!
In a new Oxygen documentary, Griffiths’s girlfriend at the time of the gruesome murders says that Griffiths was “obsessed with serial killers,” and wanted to be famous.
After a string of disappearances of women in the city of Bradford, Griffiths became known as one of the most heinous serial killers in the UK after he murdered and fed on three women. He called himself the “Crossbow Cannibal,” an accurate if not such a creative nickname that stemmed from his weapon of choice – a crossbow and his penchant for devouring the flesh of his victims.
Griffiths’ preoccupation with violence and murder came to light when he was imprisoned at the age of 17 for attacking a supermarket manager with a knife. He was diagnosed in prison as a violent psychopath. He admitted to his psychiatrist that he always wanted to be a serial killer and idolized Peter Sutcliffe, the “Yorkshire Ripper,” who had killed 13 women in England between 1975 and 1980 – in the same general area where Griffiths would eventually hunt down and kill his prey.
Kathy Hancock, Griffiths’ girlfriend at the time who was unknowingly involved with a serial killer, confirmed his obsession with death and killers in a recent episode of Oxygen’s “Living With a Serial Killer.”
Meeting Griffiths in 2001 “was like an earthquake,” said Hancock, who’d worked in the prison system and found him very intelligent.
Hancock told producers that Griffiths’ outward show of empathy masked a darker agenda. He homed in on people’s vulnerabilities, and he also was obsessed with serial killers, especially Sutcliffe, who died in 2020.
She recalled that he laughed about spiking her tea with a “deadly drug,” an incident she claimed landed her in the hospital. While she was there, he went to her home and took her beloved dogs and never revealed what he did with them, Hancock said. Presumably, he killed them, as most serial killers start with the torture and killing of animals first.
The Crimes of the Crossbow Cannibal
As to his crimes, they were particularly grisly. His murder victims were either sex workers or drug addicts he picked up from the streets. He lured them back to his apartment with the promise of drugs or money before shooting them with his crossbow – usually in the head and dismembering their bodies.
His first victim was Susan Rushworth, a 43-year prostitute who disappeared, and her body was never found. His second victim, Shelley Armitage, was also a sex worker. The 31-year-old woman was killed in the same manner as Rushworth just months later. He made a video of himself on his phone as he butchered her body and narrated his actions. Reportedly, he carried her body parts in bin bags in a public transport to dispose of them in the River Aire.
On May 23, 2010, Suzanne Blamires, 36, another area sex worker, went missing. The next day, the superintendent of a building in that neighborhood called to report seeing an attack. The crime was caught on a security camera.
Armitage is seen in the footage being chased by a man with a crossbow. The man, identified as Griffiths, looked directly into the security camera and gave raised his middle finger in an obscene gesture.
“This was a man who clearly wanted to be known,” said Jerry Lawton, chief crime correspondent for the Daily Star.
On May 25, 2010, after a man reported seeing a suspicious black bag in the River Aire, police retrieved it. Inside it was a severed head with a crossbow bolt embedded in it. Police divers eventually recovered 159 pieces of human tissue from the river.
Additional surveillance footage from a train emerged linking Griffiths with the bag and body parts in the river. DNA and fingerprint evidence from the collected body parts confirmed the victims were Armitage and Blamires. Specks of blood found during an intensified search of Griffiths’ home were matched to Rushworth. He was charged with all three murders.
On May 28, 2010, Griffiths had to identify himself in court. He stood up and, with an air of hubris, declared, “I am the crossbow cannibal.”
Relatives of the victims present shrieked, according to Lawton. Why would he admit to chopping up and eating parts of his victims?
To shock people and for fame, said prosecutors. “For that, he needed a really powerful, impactful nickname … Griffiths wants to be seen as the biggest and the baddest.”
In December 2010, Griffiths’ pretrial hearing began. He subsequently pleaded guilty to the three murders and was sentenced to life without parole.
As for Kathy Hancock, the fact that she was living with a serial killer is one she’ll never escape.
“He wanted to be infamous,” she told the Oxygen producers. “He knew exactly what he was doing, exactly what buttons to press.”