The Dark & Perverted World of Serial Killer Steve Wright | Serial Killer Series | UPDATE!!!

(Steve Wright. Picture credit: Standard)

It's the fourth instalment of my Serial Killer Series and it's always a wonder about who I am going to write about next because, unfortunately we have millions of cases to choose from, not only from the past but also from the present. 

I decided to go with Steve Wright for this particular post because I know that a lot of you from other parts of the globe might not be familiar with this case which took place in an area of England, known as Ipswich in Suffolk. Although this was quite a shocking case and Steve was quite a sick individual, you don't tend to hear that much about it compared to other serial killer cases. 

Steve Wright, otherwise known as 'The Suffolk Strangler' was responsible for striking fear into the hearts of the public in the late months of 2006 when he went on a killing spree in Ipswich, Suffolk. In just 6 weeks he murdered 5 innocent young women and could be responsible for many more. He has been suspected of other unsolved murders. 

One of the advantages of my research into this case was that I remember when these horrendous events took place, I, along with millions of other people in the UK watched in horror at the news reports and felt the fear when reading the newspaper articles. It was true that we thought that we had another Peter Sutcliffe on our hands and nobody knew where or when he would strike next. 

It was very disturbing to turn on the news to hear ''another body has been found, and another, and another etc'' when was it going to stop? As I talk about this case in this post, you will probably be left with a lot of questions and thoughts. As I always say and I echo that of the opinions of leading Criminologists such as David Wilson who often say, who becomes a serial killer in their 40s, 50s and 60s? and in this case you will probably join me in that belief that, as we always say, there could be many other victims that have simply not been identified. 

The difficult thing again in a case like this, as was in the last case that I wrote about (Charles Albright), the killer's victim of choice was sex workers and as we know as sad as it is, many of these women go unaccounted for and many difficulties arise when it comes to investigating their disappearances and murders due to stigma and certain views that people have about women who sell sex for money. What they don't realise is that, these women are often forced into that life or have come to a point in there lives where they don't see any other alternative, especially if you are a single mother who is trying to get by on a small income and no jobs are available. What I'm saying is, there's often a background story to prostitution and I don't even like saying that word because I know that it is used in a derogatory manner most of the time. You'll often pick up a book on the case or see an archived newspaper article to see the words ''He killed prostitutes'' and it's so disrespectful, the victims were women, they were someone's mother, daughter, sister. These women were individuals, each had their own story to tell and they were human beings just like the rest of us who deserve respect and to be able to live their lives. They did not deserve what happened to them. 

So who is Steve Wright and what are the background details of the case? Join me in this post as I delve into the details and please keep in mind that some of the information shared is quite disturbing. 

Steve Wright came into the world as Steven Gerald James Wright on the 24th of April 1958 in Erpingham, Norfolk. His parents had professional occupations (his father was a military policeman and his mother was a Veterinarian nurse) so his early years were quite comfortable financially. He had an older brother and younger sister and the family spent a lot of time travelling and staying in other parts of the world such as Malta and Singapore due to his father's job. 

They did eventually return to England but cracks began to form in his parents relationship and it was decided that there would be a separation. Steve's Dad was under the assumption that it was just going to be a break but his unhappy wife had other ideas. Steve went to the train station with his father to see his mother and younger sister get onto the train and waved Goodbye, thinking he would see them again. What actually happened was that his mother was leaving Steve's father and her two sons behind with no intention of ever returning. Steve was just 8 years old when this happened and his father believes that this event had a profound effect on Steve's attitude and thoughts about women in general. He felt abandoned and wondered why his mother left the boys behind but took his sister. It was a black mark that he would carry with him for the rest of his life and he never was to see his mother or sister again. 

His parents got divorced and his father moved on and met someone else, remarried and had two more children. Steve was said to have gotten on well with his siblings. His father was firm but fair in the household and taught his children manners. Steve and his siblings got on well with their step-mother too. Naturally, there would be arguments from time to time but it was just normal family stuff and nothing serious. 

On the whole, apart from his mother leaving when he was 8 there was nothing else traumatic or anything of note that his childhood was a complete unhappy one, although he would claim later that there was abuse which his father and relatives denied. 

No red flags seemed to pop up anywhere, he seemed to be quite a quiet, friendly child and teenager. He obviously wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and make something of himself so he dropped out of school at the age of 16 to join the Merchant Navy and worked as a chef. All seemed to be going well and he was involved in a blossoming relationship with a woman called Angela, they married young, Steve being just 20 years old and all seemed to be great at first, they even had a child together and any one who saw them in the early stages of the relationship and marriage would say that they looked like a couple who were pretty much in love. 

It didn't take that long for things to turn sour though and Angela quickly found herself trapped in an abusive marriage with a young child. Steve could be sweet one minute and a monster the next and it was a very toxic environment. What Angela didn't know either was that Steve had been hiding a dark secret from her, a secret he had been hiding from everyone since he first joined the Merchant Navy. Steve had an addiction to sex workers and would often visit massage parlours and brothels to pay for sex behind his wife's back. He seemed to be someone who got bored very easily and part of the thrill for him was having these secret visits to 'Ladies of The Night' as they were often called.

Angela managed to get away from him in 1987 and Steve continued on about his life, paying for sex but also taking a series of jobs working as a lorry driver, a refuse collector and even a steward on the QE2. People who knew him from that time said that he was very quiet but also had an arrogance about him.By the time 1988 rolled around, he'd already been married and divorced again for the second time. He was also very abusive in that relationship with both of his ex-wives later branding him a 'monster'. He now found himself on a different career path and became the landlord of a pub in South London. 

He became a father again in 1992 as a result of a relationship which didn't continue into marriage. His role as a pub landlord was on a slippery slope because he'd become obsessed with gambling and drinking, eventually, like a lot of things in Steve wright's life, this came to an abrupt end too. He continued to go down hill with the drinking and gambling, resorting to theft to try and put an end to his financial woes but he was found out and convicted for his petty crime and seeing no way out, he spiralled into a deep depression. 

(Steve Wright. Picture credit: Murderpedia)

Steve Wright, as well as everything else, was someone who suffered from deep depression on and off over the years and had made an attempt in the past, around 1994 to commit suicide. He tried to take his own life in his car by Carbon Monoxide poisoning. He now found himself with two divorces behind him, no career plan, no money and a huge amount of debts. He saw his only way out as taking a pile of pills in 2000. Obviously he lived to tell the tale, one wonders, as dark as it is, if he'd succeeded with either of these two attempts, would we be sitting here today talking about this and the loss of life that he caused, would those five women (and whoever else he harmed) be around today living their lives? It's just another question that will forever remain unanswered. 

Despite his average appearance he seemed to have no trouble getting into relationships with women. He obviously put on an act in the early stages of the relationship to con these women into thinking he was just this nice, quiet guy and to his credit, it worked!. He managed to fool and manipulate not just the women he was involved with but friends and family too. 

If you're a avid reader of true crime you may be following this post and thinking there are similarities here between Steve Wright and Peter Sutcliffe (also known as The Yorkshire Ripper) and there are a few similarities. They both drove long distance lorries and took low skilled jobs, had been married whilst paying for sex and they both targeted sex workers (although Peter Sutcliffe's last known victim was not a sex worker but the other victims were). 

So in the early 2000s he was at a very low point in his life and then he met Pamela Wright (the same surname just happened to be a coincidence, You'll find some newspaper articles tend to make the mistake of referring to Pamela as his third wife) and that relationship seemed to be a lot calmer than his previous ones, possibly due to the fact that he was using sex workers the majority of the time and Pamela was always busy working. When Pamela took a job which involved night shifts, he saw this as the perfect opportunity to indulge in his long term hobby of paying for sex, although this time, he couldn't afford to go to the massage parlours and the brothels, he went to the red light district instead where he could pay less for sexual services. 

A woman who had been a 'working girl'would later tell investigators that she had been previously picked up by Steve Wright in his car for sexual services and that he had been wearing a long black wig. Obviously he had been doing this as an attempt to avoid being recognised but I'm sure people would have noticed his car and licence plate. 

His routine with the sex workers continued and this span of time is what leaves question marks in my mind as well as previous times before. He began his relationship with Pamela in 2001 and he is supposed to have started killing in his late 40s in 2006. Are we supposed to believe that he did nothing in that space of time or before especially with his history of violence towards women and the frequency in which he paid for sex. There was the extreme bouts of depression where he tried to take his own life on two occasions but was able to recover, was this because he found an outlet for his built up anger and frustration? Outlet as in, picking up sex workers and committing murder? Could it be that these victims have not yet been identified? 

I just find it hard to believe that his first murders where in 2006 at the age of 48, with his personality type and his behaviour towards others in the past. He was so violent in his early 20s too towards his first wife that even the neighbours witnessed him trying to strangle his wife in public. He'd had years of being violent towards women and it seemed that he used the sex workers to get out all of his frustration, not just in a sexual manner but in an aggressive manner. 

He was able to conduct a relationship with Pamela to where she claims that she suspected nothing. As I have just mentioned, Steve Wright 'reportedly' turned his attention to five innocent women in the late months of 2006. He had a bit of a reputation amongst the sex workers and they nicknamed him ''The Mondeo Man''. He'd struck up friendships with some of them and have been a regular client. The thing to remember is this, Steve Wright didn't murder every single woman that he solicited services from, some he acted normal and let them leave without any incident. That is the case with a lot of serial killers you read about, for example, Aileen Wuornos, there are people to this day that will tell you that they had encounters with Aileen and she was friendly with them and there were no problems. Aileen would spend all day getting in and out of different men's cars but her reported number of murders was 7 (again, that we known of), she even pointed this out herself in an interview about the hundreds of men that she let go and and didn't have a problem with. 

Why did Steve Wright pick these 5 women to kill? it is an answer we may never know, there is no justified reason anyway. These women never hurt him or attacked him, maybe it was just his sick mood or opportunity? He is in no hurry to give us any answers, any time that he is questioned he just responds with ''no comment''. 

His first reported victim was 19 year old Tania Nicol. Tania was a pretty young woman who lived with her mother and little brother, she had hidden her 'job' from her friends and family and when she didn't return home on the 30th of October 2006, her mother became very worried and contacted the police. Tania had previously worked in some of the local massage parlours and brothels before turning to work on the street. Her mother claimed that she knew nothing of Tania's private life or how she made her money but her mother did have a job as a cleaner at one of the brothels that Tania had previously worked at. She was a bright, bubbly girl and loved Harry Potter, just a typical teenage girl but for some reason had gotten caught up in the game. Her naked body was sadly found on the 8th of December near Copdock Mill in Ipswich. 

The next reported victim of Steve Wright was said to have been 25 year old Gemma Adams. Gemma had a different kind of upbringing from the other victims, she had been from a middle class background and rode horses and took piano lessons. Somewhere along the way however, Gemma got involved with the wrong boyfriend at the age of just 17 and became hooked on drugs. She wasn't open about her job as a sex worker and her family claim they had no idea of the troubles that she was in but they did know of her struggles with substance misuse. Gemma had been in a relationship with a guy for about 10 years and apparently he was quite happy for his girlfriend to go out on the streets of Ipswich at night to make money. It appears he was involved with drugs too and it's a heartbreaking situation for this young girl who was so full of promise to have fallen victim to these types of men and in the end she lost her life for it. Gemma was reported missing on the 15th of November 2006. Her body was also nude and found in a river at Hintlesham in Ipswich on the 2nd of December 2006.

The third reported victim was said to have been 24 year old Anneli Alderton, Annelli had been three months pregnant and was also a mother to a little boy. Her story is also very tragic because she lost her father to lung cancer at the age of just 16 and never was able to come to terms with it which a lot of people would struggle with. In an attempt to dull the pain of the grief she turned to drugs and that started a downward spiral that she just couldn't shake. She had so many dreams of being a model and was quite academically gifted as well as being fluent in Greek but those that knew her said that she had gotten in with a bad crowd. She was reported missing on the 3rd of December 2006 and her body was found on the 10th of December 2006. 

(CCTV footage of Anneli recorded on a train the night she went missing. Picture credit: Suffolk Live)

Anneli's body was also found nude but she had been posed in a cruciform position. Steve Wright would repeat this ghastly act with his next victim, 29 year old, Annette Nicholls. Annette (Netty) had dreams of becoming a qualified beautician and she had actually completed and passed a course at college but again, somewhere along the line she ended up on a dark path and had gotten mixed up in drugs. Like all of the victims, she hid her life as a sex worker, apparently she was desperate to get out of the game but she was trapped by her addiction. She was reported missing on the 8th of December and her body was found on the 12 of December 2006. She had been nude and placed in the same position (cruciform) as Anneli. 

His final victim was reportedly, 24 year old Paula Clennell. I remember seeing Paula give an interview anonymously on the news when the horrors of the whole situation was taking place. She talked about how women were living in fear but they felt that they had no choice but to continue to work on the streets. Chillingly, just a short time after this interview, Paula went missing and was found deceased on the same day that Anneli's body was found. I remember the pictures on the news reports of the white tents that had been set up where the remains were found. Both girls were not that far apart and it was a horrible time. Paula had also turned to sex work due to a drug habit and kept her lifestyle from her family. 

(The known victims of Steve Wright. From top right: Anneli Alderton, Gemma Adams, Paula Clennell. From Bottom left: Annette Nichols and Tania Nicol. Picture credit: Daily Mail)

Everyone, especially women who lived in Ipswich were terrified and wondering when this monster was going to strike next. Women were told to stay indoors and not go out at night and the fear was palpable, even just being a viewer watching the news reports on the TV. It gave you an insight into how the women of West Yorkshire must have felt back in the 70s when The Yorkshire Ripper stalked the streets. 

All of the girls found had been nude, some had been posed and according to the autopsy results, none of them had been sexually assaulted but they had been strangled and that was concluded as the official cause of death. 

Credit has to be given to the investigators on this case because they worked tirelessly to catch this evil individual. Steve Wright's DNA was already on police record for the previous theft conviction and the police had spent hours upon hours going through endless CCTV footage looking for suspicious vehicles that might have been in the area near to where the bodies had been found. It turned out that they spotted a vehicle that had the same licence plate near to each of those locations at the times the girls had been reported missing or just shortly before their bodies were found. They traced the licence plate back to Steve Wright and they matched his DNA to three of the girls, with two of the girls (I assume to be Tania and Gemma because they were found in water) they couldn't find DNA. Steve Wright was arrested on the 19th of December 2006. 

The amount of evidence against Steve Wright was overwhelming with other women coming forward saying that they'd had previous violent run-ins with him but luckily they were able to get away. He was questioned about why he had done what he had done, was there any more victims? His answer to everything was ''No Comment''. Throughout his trial and even to this day, he has never revealed any motive or explanation for his crimes, not even an apology for what he did. 

He has been linked to so many unsolved murders and is currently still under investigation for some of them. 

I have to mention the amazing Professor David Wilson, who I greatly admire and is one of the UK's leading Criminologists, he was heavily involved with this case and wrote a very detailed book: Hunting Evil: Inside The Ipswich Serial Murders as well as one of the books which I read as part of my research for this post (A History of British Serial Killing - David Wilson). There was a segment that David had written and it really send a chill down the spine, I will quote it below:

''Between 1994 and 2004, 60 women involved in prostitution were murdered. The killer was only convicted in 16 of those cases'' - David Wilson (A British History of Serial Killing) 

Steve Wright was found guilty of all 5 murders on February of 2008 and was sentenced to a whole life order, meaning that he will die in prison. he has never shown any remorse for his crimes and continues to be suspected of many other cases with some currently under investigation as we speak. Will he ever tell us the truth? Who knows? One thing is for sure, Steve Wright is one evil individual and the one positive of this horrific situation is that he is off of the streets and never able to harm anyone again. 

Again, this was another difficult case to get through but I thank you and appreciate you joining me for this fourth instalment. 

I just want to give a moment to pay tribute to the victims:

RIP, Tania, Gemma, Anneli, Annette, Paula and to any unidentified victims that we do not know about. Thoughts also to survivors and families. 

Further Reading & Sources:

Hunting Evil | Book on the case by David Wilson & Paul Harrison

A History of British Serial Killing | Book by Professor David Wilson

The Big Book of Serial Killers | Book by Jack Rosewood

Serial Killers & The Phenomenon of Serial Murder | Textbook by Professor David Wilson, Elizabeth Yardley and Adam Lynes

Steve wright | Documentary/Real Crime

Steve Wright | Murderpedia

Steve Wright: Article | Ipswich Star

Steve Wright: Article | Daily Mail

Steve Wright: Article | The Guardian

Steve Wright | Wikipedia

The Legacy of Ipswich | Article Written by Professor David Wilson for The Guardian Newspaper

UPDATE May 2024: The Daily Mail reported that Steve Wright had been charged with the kidnap and murder of 17 year old Victoria Hall and the attempted abduction of a 22 year old woman in September of 1999. Source: Daily Mail 

Just a little side note: I have create an Instagram page which is dedicated to all things true crime, you can find it at @TrueCrimeWithCK

Take care and I'll see you (hopefully) in my next instalment and elsewhere on my Socials x 

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