‘Crossbow cannibal’ charged with killing three prostitutes
A student gave his name as “the crossbow cannibal” when he appeared in court today charged with the murders of three prostitutes.
Former public schoolboy Stephen Griffiths (40), is accused of killing Suzanne Blamires, Shelley Armitage and Susan Rushworth, who all went missing in Bradford.
Griffiths, wearing a black shirt and navy blue jeans, appeared at Bradford Magistrates' Court.
Asked to confirm his name he said: “The crossbow cannibal.”
Asked for his address, Griffiths replied: “Erm ... here I guess.”
Relatives of some of the victims were in court for the hearing.
Some wiped away tears at the start of proceedings.
Others stared intently at Griffiths, who stood to give his 'name'.
At other times he sat, fidgeting and touching his head, or staring silently at the floor,
Court clerk Miss Amarjit Soor read out the charges to Griffiths in the three-minute long hearing.
She said he was charged with murdering Ms Blamires between May 20 and May 25; murdering Ms Rushworth between June 22, 2009, and May 25 this year, and murdering Ms Armitage between April 25 and May 25 this year.
District Judge Mrs Susan Bouch remanded Griffiths in custody to appear at Bradford Crown Court this afternoon.
The defendant was flanked by three security guards in the glass-fronted dock.
After he was led into the dock Griffiths put his hands together in a prayer-like gesture.
One man in the public gallery stood up as Griffiths was brought in and had to be told to sit down.
Dozens of journalists were in and outside for the hearing, along with detectives involved in one of West Yorkshire's biggest investigations in recent times.
Police said yesterday that the remains of Ms Blamires (36) were found on Tuesday afternoon in water just yards from where the busy Otley Road crosses the River Aire in Shipley.
Ms Blamires was last seen on Friday, while Ms Armitage (31), has been missing since Monday, April 26, and Ms Rushworth (43), disappeared on June 22 last year.
Griffiths, a psychology graduate undertaking postgraduate research in criminology at Bradford University, was arrested on Monday at his home on the edge of Bradford's red-light district.
Last night, Ms Blamires's mother, Nicky Blamires (55), described her daughter as a “bright and articulate” woman, who went to college and was training to be a nurse.
“Unfortunately my daughter went down the wrong path and she did not have the life she was meant to have.
“She was a much-loved daughter, sister and niece and what has happened to her will haunt me to the day I die,” she said.
Ms Blamires's home in Barkston Walk, in the Allerton area of Bradford, is a few streets from that of Ms Armitage, last seen on CCTV footage walking in Rebecca Street, in the red-light district.
People who knew Ms Armitage said she was a “bubbly, lovely” girl.
The third woman, grandmother and mother-of-three Ms Rushworth, was last seen on June 22 last year, after getting off a single-decker bus near her flat at Oak Villas, in the Manningham area of Bradford.
Her daughter, Kirsty, said: “Even though she used to take drugs and stuff, my friends always used to have a laugh with her and she'd give her right arm to anybody. She wasn't like all these other druggies. She was just completely different. She was like a sister more than a mum.”
Griffiths lived in a third-floor flat in Thornton Road, a short distance from Bradford city centre. Last night police continued to search the flats complex, where he had been living for about 13 years. An area around it was sealed off.