The Crossbow Cannibal | Stephen Griffiths | Serial Killer Series

 (Stephen Griffiths. Picture credit: Daily Mail)

Welcome back to my blog if you've returned to join me in another instalment of my Serial Killer Series and hello, if you are new to my work. This week the focus has been on the Serial Killer wannabe, the obsessed, crazed and very dangerous Stephen Griffiths. I know he loves having documentaries, books and blogs written about him so having him feature in my Serial Killer Series would amuse him greatly I'm sure (not that he will ever read it, nor would I care if he did). 

The reason he is this week's chosen subject is because I just covered the Peter Manuel case and a subscriber asked me to go a bit further into this case after I briefly mentioned it in my last post. If you happen to follow me on social media you will know that I've spoken of Stephen Griffiths before. In this post I'm going to be talking about his background, the horrific murders, the horrible details that I've never shared before and the facts about the case that are so disturbing that you'll likely not find them in news articles. I aim to be as sensitive as possible with the details. 

I'm not going to lie to you, this case is going to be pretty heavy. I will be talking about human mutilation, dismemberment and animal cruelty and mutilation. It's going to be very disturbing indeed. On looking back over this case this past week, I'd forgotten some of the horrific details and how truly gruesome and sickening the whole thing was. The picture above (as well as the frames that accompany it - taken from CCTV footage) will forever haunt me. Once you know the full story it's impossible to forget. 

So let's take a deep breath and delve into this case...

Stephen Griffiths was a complex character as Serial Killers often are, you never really knew where you stood with him and part of this was because he was a Schizoid Psychopath. If you were to ask anyone who knew him from his university days, before, during or afterwards, you'd get a different response. Some would say that he could be the nicest guy and do anything for you. They'd describe him as a bit of a quiet loner who kept himself to himself. Then there would be others who would say that he could be a horrible, sadistic and manipulative monster who caused nothing but sheer hell to those around him. A ticking time bomb with a dark past that stalked and harassed women. He really was two people in the same body but it was the evil side of his personality that was the one that overshadowed everything. 

So we look to the past to see if there was any red flags with Stephen along the way. He was born Stephen Shaun Griffiths on the Christmas Eve of 1969 in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England. He was a quiet child, constantly daydreaming and wasn't much of a sociable child but he did his best. His family life was pretty normal, no traumatic experiences or incidents to speak of. The only red flag that seemed to pop up during this time was his obsession with shooting birds. Can you believe to some people that hunting small animals is considered normal? I don't think shooting animals dead for fun, especially as a young child, is normal. So in my opinion this is a red flag from his younger days. 

He was academically gifted and won a place at a grammar school in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. He wore a smart blazer and was described by former classmates as quiet, not really interested in other people but got on with his classwork. When his parents split up he developed a real resentment towards his mother. The details of the marriage breakdown is unknown but what we do know is that he held his mother responsible and this negative attitude and feeling towards her would continue for years to come. He was also quite embarrassed by his mother's behaviour, he didn't agree with how she was enjoying herself as a single woman. His mother was rediscovering her youth and would go out clubbing and act younger than her years, he wasn't happy with that. 

(Stephen Griffiths/school days. Picture credit: Daily Mail)

As his teenage years arrived, the little trickles of potential darkness from the past where beginning to turn into floods. Not satisfied with just shooting birds, he enjoyed pulling the wings off and mutilating them. Later on he reportedly cut the ears and tail off of a puppy. Things soon escalated pretty quickly with two incidences which saw him placed behind bars, at the age of 17, he began stealing and was caught shoplifting by a security guard, he cut the man's throat and neck (luckily the man survived but required quite a number of stitches) and another incident at college where he was paranoid that a group of girls were laughing at him so he held a knife to one of the girl's throats. Whilst in custody he didn't even make any excuses, he simply said that it was his desire to become a Serial Killer. Very alarming words for a teenage boy. He was diagnosed as a Schizoid Psychopath and shockingly, he was released back into the public some time later despite experts warning that a dangerous future lay ahead. 

When he left prison he reportedly cut off all contact with his family, He'd had a series of relationships which never lasted due to him being paranoid, controlling and abusive. 

He soon found himself living in Bradford and had a desire to study Psychology at the University of Bradford. He had piles and piles of criminology and Serial Killer books stacked up in his small apartment along with hunting materials and two crossbows. He was unemployed and lived off of the Government welfare that was given to him to cover his University costs. He became very paranoid about a lot of things as he always had been, especially when it came to his relationships. He became scared to sleep at night because he was convinced that there were insects in his small apartment that were waiting to crawl into his ears and get into his head. He began sleeping with cotton wool in his ears. He also became obsessed with lizards and thought it was a good idea to have one as a pet. 

He reportedly took good care of the lizard, there's a possibility he may have felt some sort of protection from the 'insects' he was paranoid about with having the lizard in the apartment. He was scared of germs too and would cover various surfaces in his apartment with plastic sheeting. When he brought one of his girlfriend's back to his apartment for a coffee, she noticed the books, the state of the place and the plastic sheeting everywhere and it freaked her out, she ended the relationship quickly afterwards. Some of his ex girlfriends were harassed and stalked after daring to break up with him and one in particular, Kathy, went to hell and back for years because of his constant harassment. 

Kathy was originally attracted to Stephen because he seemed to be a bit eccentric, they had a few things in common, music, movies etc. She was impressed with his intelligence and the fact that he was studying Psychology with a focus on Homicide in Victorian Bradford. He was very sweet at first and she liked his style of long hair and black clothes. Things soon turned sour as they always did with Stephen, she moved into his apartment and things quickly went downhill. Kathy was cut off from her family and friends, he would often assault her and if she was to attend a Doctor's appointment or had to leave the apartment for whatever reason, he had to go with her. He wouldn't leave Kathy alone for 5 minutes. 

She would later describe how he could be calm one minute and then totally fly off the handle the next. There were times where he hit her, broke her nose and on another sinister occasion he poisoned her tea. Luckily she survived the poisoning and managed to get away from him but he wasn't going to let her get away so easily. 

For years after their break-up Stephen continued to harass and stalk Kathy. He would turn up at her house and cause damage to the property and write words like 'slut' on her doors. He would continually call her, her friends and family and leave horrible messages. One of the messages on her answer machine was of him laughing, almost in a mechanical way, it makes for very chilling listening and can be found online. 

His reputation around the area in which he lived as well as University, was one of quite an oddball character. He dressed from head to toe in black (which isn't really a big deal but you know how some people are), had long hair and wore sunglasses...even in the pouring rain! At one point he had two lizards and he'd take them out for a walk on leashes, it was quite a surreal sight and one that certainly brought attention.

For someone who preferred to be alone and didn't like people very much, he sure did like to draw attention to himself. 

His neighbours were used to seeing his strange antics and thought of him as just a nice, quiet guy (the same way that Jeffrey Dahmer's neighbours thought about him) who was a bit out there but perfectly harmless. One afternoon he invited his neighbour around for a coffee and he was showing off one of his lizards. He mentioned it was 'feeding time' and to the neighbour's horror, he produced a live rat in front of the lizard. The lizard proceeded to bite the rat in half as Stephen laughed and said ''That's nature for you''. 

As time went on and he became increasingly isolated, Kathy kept herself safely away from him and there was no other outlet for his pent up anger. He started to seek the company of sex workers. The red light district was not that far from his home and it wasn't unusual to see him taking one of these girls back to his third floor apartment late at night. 

Again, his reputation amongst the girls on the street was that he was just a quiet, odd but friendly guy. Some would even consider him a friend. There would be occasions where some of the girls would be invited back to his place for a takeaway meal and a shower, sometimes he gave them money and cigarettes. So if he approached any of the girls they would chat away to him and happily accompany him because nothing sinister had ever happened before. 

What nobody knew was that Stephen Griffiths was a ticking time bomb, He'd been having fantasies for years about murdering someone, he was obsessed with Serial Killers such as Peter Manuel and The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe. He dreamed of killing more people than Peter Sutcliffe and have books, movies and documentaries made about him. He wanted people to study him for years to come and to be counted alongside the likes of Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer

He knew that in order to try and outdo these Serial Killers he would have do commit the most gruesome crimes imaginable and try to go way beyond what they did.

Alongside the Serial Killer books were now books on Dismemberment. He made a point of being seen reading one of these books and it raised some eyebrows, this together with the hunting weapons caused some alarm and the police began monitoring him. They visited him and removed the weapons but he later purchased more. They still kept an eye on him and his landlord was contacted. There was already CCTV cameras in the building where he lived but they weren't the best but due to concerns of both the landlord and the police they installed properly working cameras to keep an eye on Stephen. The police apparently knew he was a danger but didn't have the power to have him locked up because they felt that they didn't have enough evidence or proof that he could potentially murder someone even though his behaviour and actions were getting more and more sinister. I think the plan was that if they had seen anything too extreme on the CCTV camera footage that they would swoop in an arrest him.

(Some of the weapons from Stephen's apartment that the police confiscated. Picture credit: Daily Mail)

Stephen knew the cameras were there but he didn't care. As he continued to spiral out of control he decided that he wanted to make his fantasy a reality. He was now calling himself 'Van Pariah' and leaving all sorts of crazy ramblings online as well as reviews of various books on Amazon. On the night of the 22nd of June 2009, a 43 year old woman named Susan Rushworth had vanished off the streets of Bradford. She was working in the red light district and had known Stephen Griffiths well, she'd been to his home before and trusted him. It was later discovered that Susan had gone to Stephen's apartment that night and was never seen again. Her body was never found but traces of her blood were found in his home. The horrible murder of Susan (which you can imagine would have been a horrific and terrifying ordeal as well as gruesome) was reported to have been his first killing (of a human being, as we know he had a history of killing animals) but is that the case? He did say later that he had killed more women than he was accused of. 

Not content with the sick and heartless murder of Susan, he struck again on the 26th of April 2010 and lured 31 year old Shelley Armitage back to his cramped apartment. Shelley never left that apartment alive. It's unclear the full events of that night but what we do know is that he recorded Shelley on his phone after he murdered her and would later leave this phone on a busy train in the intentions that someone would see it. 

Anyone who has viewed this horrible video has said that it was so disturbing and very traumatic. Stephen is stood in his bathroom with Shelley's lifeless body in the bathtub behind him, she is hog tied and has the words 'my sex slave' painted on her back. Stephen spoke in the video saying ''I am Van Pariah. I am the bloodbath artist. Here's a model who's assisting me''

Obviously a lot of the details of the video and the gruesome footage has been kept from the public, but we do know that Shelley was dismembered and her remains were thrown into the River Aire. The only remains that were found later was a small piece of her spine which is very heartbreaking and disturbing. 

His (reportedly) last victim who's death was well documented was that of 36 year old, Suzanne Blamires. Susan had also been working in the red light district near to Stephen's home after falling on hard times and turning to drugs. On May the 21st of 2010 her last actions were captured on CCTV cameras both outside and in the outer hallway of Stephen's building and it makes for very chilling viewing. 

The pictures from the actual footage were edited and released to the public. In the pictures we see this poor woman walking into the building with Stephen happily having a conversation with him as I'm sure she had done many times before. Nothing looked sinister until the CCTV camera recorded Suzanne suddenly coming out of Stephen's apartment and running, frantically trying to get away from something and then we see Stephen, the look of evil on his face, carrying a crossbow and proceeding to chase Suzanne down the outer hallway. The horrific murder is not shown in the pictures to the public for obvious reasons but what we do know is that he fired the crossbow straight into Suzanne's head, killing her instantly. He then dragged her body back into the apartment and appeared again some minutes later. He walked right up to the CCTV camera looking pretty pleased with himself and made an obscene finger gesture towards it before returning back inside the apartment.

(CCTV footage from outside Stephen's apartment on the night Suzanne was murdered: Picture credit: Daily Mail)

Nobody was watching the CCTV cameras live that night, the horrific scene would be discovered some time later when a security guard was checking the tapes. What he saw understandably sickened him and he contacted the police.

(Stephen Griffith, outside of his apartment just moments after he murdered Suzanne. Picture credit: Daily Mail

In that apartment after he murdered Suzanne, the evil monster known as Stephen Griffiths was continuing to carry out his sick fantasies in his wannabe role as a Serial Killer. He spent all night dismembering Suzanne's body into 81 pieces and wrapping the remains up in bags. He later claimed that he cooked and ate pieces of her body but some people believe that he just said that for more of a shock factor. DNA of his victims was found in his kitchen so it is unclear whether he handled and cooked their remains in there or he just had some of their DNA on his hands and this transferred onto items in the kitchen. Whatever the case, everything else was bad enough. 

I also wanted to mention here that on the horrible night of Suzanne Blamire's death, before he dismembered her body, he actually left his apartment and tried to lure another sex worker to his home but she refused to go with him. 

(Stephen Griffiths outside of his apartment just minutes after murdering Suzanne. He is seen here, trying to lure another sex worker to his apartment but she felt that something was off about him so she left. Picture credit: Daily Mail)

He placed Suzanne's decapitated head in a rucksack. Her head still had the crossbow embedded in it. He had the audacity to take bags carrying Suzanne's remains on public transport and disposed of them again in the River Aire. As he was carrying his rucksack out of his house which contained Suzanne's head, a neighbour stopped him and asked how he was doing and noticed a strong, putrid smell. Stephen explained that one of his lizard's had died and he was just taking it somewhere to bury it. 

It wasn't long for the police to come knocking on Stephen's door and this time they were armed. Just days after he murdered, dismembered and disposed of Suzanne's remains, the police had come to arrest him on the 24th of May 2010. 

The police vans were everywhere, armed cops were on the scene, everyone was expecting some sort of shoot out but Stephen Griffiths just responded to the knock on the door with ''I'm Osama Bin Laden''

Without a fuss, a struggle or a word said, he calmly allowed himself to be handcuffed and placed straight into the police car. His neighbours stood watching in confusion wondering what was going on, why were they arresting quiet, well mannered Stephen? It must have been quite a traumatic and sickening moment when they realised what had been going on just a few feet away from them. The whole time this sadistic monster was living in the same building as they were and the reality of the nightmarish things that he did. 

Once in custody he acted polite but unbothered about the whole situation, not a care in the world or a shred of remorse. He was charged with all three murders of Susan Rushworth, Shelley Armitage and Suzanne Blamires. He even told officers ''I've killed loads'' but wouldn't go into details, playing the 'I know something you don't know' routine. 

(The known victims of Stephen Griffiths: Shelley Armitage, Susan Rushworth & Suzanne Blamires. Picture credit: Daily Mail)

In this horrendous situation he seemed to be enjoying himself knowing that his name was in the newspapers and on TV, this is what he wanted, what he fantasised about for years and suddenly here he was. He made it a point of admitting that he killed the three women (and more, he claimed) because it was so important for him to be classed as a Serial Killer. 

At his first appearance in court he knew that everybody would be waiting to see if he had anything to say, he loved the attention and when asked what his name was as he stood in the dock (knowing it would cause newspaper headlines) he responded ''I am the crossbow cannibal'' 

This was even more shocking because at that point the public knew he was a murderer but they didn't know that he had (or claimed that he had) eaten parts of his victims. Like I said before, nobody knows if he really did eat human remains or he was just saying that to add more attention for himself. 

He had his trial and was found guilty of all three murders and was deemed so dangerous that the judge sentenced him to a whole life order, meaning he will never leave prison alive. 

He never showed an ounce of remorse for his victims or their families. At one point during a court appearance he actually turned to his victim's relatives and said ''What are you looking at?''. 

The police further questioned him about these other alleged murders he claimed to have committed but all he would ever respond with is ''No comment''. Maybe he was just playing games with the cops and didn't have any information about any further murders? Maybe he just wanted the attention to continue? 

I remember following the case at the time and how quickly the story vanished from the newspapers. I can't remember what was going on at the time but another huge event had happened in 2010 and suddenly Stephen Griffiths was booted of the front pages. He was so quickly forgotten about. 

What he had done was horrendous but the public's attitude was that he was just an evil, pathetic little man who wanted 15 minutes of fame and they didn't want to give him the satisfaction of giving it to him. 

I couldn't believe how quickly he vanished off of the newspaper pages, literally within days. He obviously wasn't happy about this, it all didn't go to plan. He was supposed to have all of this attention and be treated almost like a celebrity like some of the other killers he was obsessed with. He watched for years how movies, books and interviewers had obsessed over the likes of Ted Bundy and Peter Sutcliffe and now here he was, stuck in a cell and nobody was interested.

He made a few attempts to get back into the public eye again by having hunger strikes and attempting suicide but again, nobody cared, I don't think it even made a little corner column of the newspapers. 

For a long time, people forgot about Stephen Griffiths, the so-called Crossbow Cannibal killer but due to the popularity of true crime in recent years, he pops up briefly here and there on the odd documentary but nowhere near the likes of his 'Idols'. People don't spend a great deal of time on him, I'm only writing about him because a subscriber asked me to and because as always, I want to tell the victims stories. 

Stephen Griffiths didn't just murder, mutilated and dismember these poor women, he caused absolute hell to anyone who crossed his path. The ex girlfriends have been traumatised for life (especially Kathy who he stalked for years) not only because he was the boyfriend from hell but to learn of what he did afterwards, that could have been them. It's frightening to think about. 

RIP to Suzanne, Shelley, Susan and any other possible unknown deceased victims of Stephen Griffiths. My thoughts also go out to Kathy and all of the other women he stalked, harmed and harassed. It is a miracle that Kathy and the survivors were able to live to tell the tale. I'm also thinking of the woman who Stephen tried to lure into his apartment on the night of Suzanne's death. Just minutes after brutally killing Suzanne he was back on the street looking for another victim, I can't imagine how that lady must feel to this day, to have come so close to harm. Luckily she got away and I hope wherever she is now that things took a more positive turn for her and for all of Stephen's living victims and their families. 

Further Reading & Sources:

Serial Killers & The Phenomenon of Serial Murder | Textbook by Prof David Wilson

The Big Book of Serial Killers | Book by Jack Rosewood

The Big Book of Serial Killers: Volume 2 | Book by Jack Rosewood

The Crossbow Cannibal | Book by Cyril Dixon

Stephen Griffiths | Crime & Investigation

Bradford Murders | Wikipedia

Stephen Griffiths | Wikipedia

Stephen Griffiths | Murderpedia

Stephen Griffiths: Article | The Mirror

Stephen Griffiths | Born To Kill Documentary

Stephen Griffiths | Crimes That Shook Britain, Documentary

Thank you so much for joining me in this disturbing post, I know the details were pretty hard to take and I appreciate you sticking with me through to the end. I will be back again with another instalment (my 8th) in my Serial Killer Series, I hope you will join me then and I also hope to see you on my Socials

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The Serial Killer Who Inspired Brian Cox's Portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter | Peter Manuel | Serial Killer Series

 (Peter Manuel. Picture credit: BBC Scotland)

You'd think that with me writing about so many serial killers over the years that I would have mentioned the horrific chap you see in the picture above, but no, he's been on my long list of cases for a while and somehow forgotten along the way until recently. What brought him back to mind? I was watching an interview with the incredible Scottish actor, Brian Cox and he was discussing his ICONIC role in the even more ICONIC 80s psychological thriller, Manhunter! 

I can't begin to tell you how much I love Manhunter and yes, I do consider The Silence of The Lambs to still be my number one movie of all time but Manhunter is a very close second. Well, Brian was talking about who he based his portrayal of Hannibal on and it was the infamous American-Scottish serial killer, Peter Manuel. I'm sure that name will ring a few bells for those of you who are from Scotland and the UK. 

To those of you who are further afield you might not be quite so familiar so that's where I step in and bring you the horrifying story of who is often described as 'Scotland's First Serial Killer'. He has also been described as 'The World's First Serial killer' but I wouldn't go that far. I'm always a bit sceptical when a serial killer is described as 'The first' because none of us really know, do we? You'd have to go way way back in time and I'm pretty sure you'd find a few serial killers floating about there. Jack The Ripper has often been described as The World's First Serial Killer. I guess it's up for debate and I can imagine, a very long discussion but that's not what this post is about, the focus here is on the calculating and evil Mr Peter Thomas Anthony Manuel. 

(Brian Cox based his iconic portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter, on Peter Manuel. Picture credit:Screenhub)

Peter Manuel or 'The Beast of Birkenshaw' is a serial killer who inspired other future serial killers, for example, Stephen Griffiths (The Crossbow Cannibal). I wrote a little piece about Stephen a few years ago on Instagram. It was only short and I tried to be as sensitive as possible with the details but still, people were shocked and horrified. Stephen is a British serial killer who is responsible for the deaths, mutilation and dismemberment of 3 sex workers (possibly more). He's currently serving a whole life order meaning he will never be released from prison. What added more horror to the case was the CCTV footage that was recorded outside of his apartment, he was seen chasing one of the victims down the hallway with a crossbow and a menacing look on his face.It makes for very chilling viewing and not something you forget in a hurry. 

So Peter Manuel definitely caught the attention of people not only at the time of his horrific crimes but also after death because he created such fear and devastation that it was impossible to forget and here we are decades later talking about him. When he was on the streets of Scotland it was a horrible and frightening moment in history. 

I always mention before continuing with a post that some of the details that I share will be disturbing, I know that's pretty obvious because I am writing about serial killers but still, a little reminder. 

So, Peter Thomas Anthony Manuel was originally born in New York, USA on the 13th of March 1927, his parents where from Scotland but they went over to America in hopes for a fresh start and a new life but it didn't work out. Peter already had an older brother who had stayed back in Scotland at the time. When Peter was five years old he and his parents returned to Scotland and settled in Birkenshaw, Lanarkshire. 

Red flags with Peter appeared early on in his childhood when he arrived in Scotland. There was constant trouble at school, he was bullied and began harming animals for fun. Like many serial killers I have read about who hurt animals (I can't stand any animal cruelty of any kind) they often have a pet of their own that they treasure and will never see in harms way but they seem to have no issue with harming animals that are not closely associated with them. 

It didn't take long for his behaviour to get worse as time went on, he began getting a real buzz out of stealing and soon gained a reputation by the age of ten as a little thief. Not content with pinching the odd chocolate bar or pennies out of someone's pocket, he started to progress in his career as a petty criminal and just a year later at the age of 11 he attempted to break into a shop. He was caught but this didn't deter him and he soon switched to breaking into people's houses. 

One of his favourite things to do was to break into a house in the middle of the night whilst the occupants were asleep and help himself to various items. He managed to get away with this for a while and it made him feel so clever and gave him a real kick. Eventually he was caught and because of this and the fact that he assaulted a female member of staff at school, he was sent to various institutions and again, instead of learning his lesson, he carried on as soon as he was back on the streets, only this time, the petty crime was taking an even more sinister and sickening turn. 

Having stalked the streets and houses at night, Peter knew his way around the dark alleys and country lanes and became somewhat of a Peeping Tom. If he saw a young girl on her own, he had a habit of stalking the girl, following her and when he thought the coast was clear, he'd pull the poor girl into the bushes and pull her underwear down. This became a pattern for years. He is often described as a rapist. Although no full sexual intercourse took place his actions were sexually motivated. He was impotent and his sexual assault of girls and young women would involved pulling their underwear down to expose them, leaving them nude or strangling them with their underwear. He couldn't have sexual intercourse and would get his erections and kicks by the actions of exposing his victims and killing them. 

The more thefts, crimes and sexual assaults he managed to get away with, the more powerful and confident he felt. He broke into a young woman's house one night and struck her over the head before pulling her underwear down. He was sent to prison for nine years and instead of seeing the imprisonment as punishment, he actually quite enjoyed himself and became fixated with some of the criminals who were in there with him. He'd always had an obsession with gangsters and wanted so desperately to be one. He was known to have a penchant for pinstripe suits, mafia movies and talking with an American accent (even though his accent was Scottish, he would play on his American roots). He knew of the Scottish gangsters in the prison and he wanted to become like them so he set about befriending them and made some connections. The reality was that the gangsters saw Peter Manuel as a bit of a 'fanboy' and a joke, they didn't take him seriously. 

As soon as Peter Manuel was back on the streets he made a point of hanging out at establishments where he knew the gangsters and underworld figures frequented. He looked ridiculous and didn't have much money and was becoming a bit of a pest. It was soon clear that his attempt to become one of the hard men of Glasgow & Scotland, was not working. Feeling rejected he decided he was going to continue his previous ways and pick up where he left off before he went into prison and he was determined to get his name across to these gangsters that he was not a man to be messed with. 

So here he was, a petty criminal, a violent pervert, wannabe gangster and just out of prison, what did he plan to do next? To commit murder, that's what! On the 2nd of January 1956 he stalked, sexually assaulted and murdered a 17 year old girl by the name of Anne Knielands. In September of that same year, he broke into the house of the Watt family in the middle of the night where he murdered Marion Watt (45), her sister Margaret (41) and Marion's daughter Vivienne (16). Marion's husband William was out of town on a fishing trip at the time of the murders but suspicion soon fell on him and when a witness claimed to have seen him travel overnight on a ferry, it was determined by the police that he must have sneaked off from his fishing trip in the middle of the night to come home, murder his family and return. A horrible miscarriage of justice ensued with William being sent to prison. 

Whilst William was in prison it was brought to his attention that Peter Manuel may have some information for him regarding the murder of his family. Peter began writing to Williams's lawyer and shared pieces of information about the Watts family murders, Peter claimed that a fellow inmate had confessed to him. The case against William was soon thrown out with this new information from Peter Manuel and the 'witness' admitted they couldn't be 100% sure if they saw him on the ferry that night and there was no other evidence to suggest that William had committed the murders. He was soon released and determined to get to the bottom of who murdered his family and was determined to set up a meeting with Peter Manuel who he was convinced had murdered his family. 

The crime scene at the Watts residence had similar hallmarks to Peter's previous crimes except this time murder had occurred. He had stolen some items and Vivienne had her nightdress pulled up and underwear pulled down. There was no sign that forced sexual intercourse had taken place. 

After the information about the Watts family murders came from Peter Manuel and William was released, the cops soon turned their attention to Peter but a search of his home turned up nothing. All they had was the information that he claimed had been given to him by another prisoner. Despite strong suspicions, he was released in November 1957 to carry on his evil acts. 

Not long after his release he ended up in Newcastle and murdered a cab driver by shooting him in the back of the head and slitting his throat and a young girl of just 17, Isabelle Cooke had been stalked, sexually assaulted and murdered. 

His last known victims were the Smart family. Peter (45), his wife Doris (42) and their son Michael (10) were fast asleep in their beds when Peter Manuel broke in and shot them to death. He then proceeded to ransack the house and found some money, some new notes that Peter had just gotten from the bank that he was going to use for the family's upcoming holiday. Doris had her nightdress pulled up and her underwear pulled down. As the bodies of these poor people and their little boy laid in the next room decomposing, Peter Manuel decided to hang around for a while and make himself at home. 

A friend of Michael's was supposed to stay overnight but wasn't able to make it but he did visit the family home the next day and as he knocked at the door he saw that the curtains were shut. The next time he visited the house he noticed the curtains had been opened. Nobody answered the door on either occasions but we know that Peter Manuel had been in that house just a few feet away from the family that he murdered in cold blood. 

He lived in the house for a few days, eating the family's food, feeding their cat and having baths like it was a hotel. eventually he left. 

The cops were soon on to him and once they had spoken to various witnesses that claimed to have seen Peter Manuel (who usually didn't have any money) splashing the cash around the pubs, using the same new notes that he had stolen from Peter Smart, they knew they had their man. Peter tried to make excuses and claimed that a well known gangster had actually committed the killings, when the said gangster found out, he and his associates (who already hated Peter Manuel) dug around and fed the police more information about Peter sealing his fate. He was arrested and confessed to his parents. He also claimed that he was responsible for many more murders. 

(Some of Peter Manuel's known victims. From top left: Isabelle Cooke, Michael Smart, Peter and Doris Smart. Bottom left: Marion Watt with husband William. Vivienne Watt and Margarer Brown. Picture credits: Daily Mail)

The evidence was overwhelming and Peter Manuel stood trial and (like Ted Bundy did many years later) represented himself. He was articulate, intelligent and well spoken but no amount of charm and fancy talk could take away the evidence or the reality of what he had done. Before he was sentenced, the judge said to him (also, similar to what happened in the Ted Bundy trial many years later) that if he had chosen a different path in life instead of the horrendous one that he was on, he would have made a fine lawyer. 

Peter Manuel was sentenced to death by hanging. 

He was one of the last people to be hanged in Scotland. he spent his last days listening to the radio, not saying a word until moments before his execution. He told the prison staff ''If you turn up the wireless, I'll go quietly'' 

RIP to the known victims and unknown victims of Peter Manuel. Thoughts also to the survivors and their families. 


Further Reading & Sources:

Encyclopedia of Serial Killers | Book by Michael Newton

The Big Book of Serial Killers | Book by Jack Rosewood

The Big Book of Serial Killers: Volume Two | Book by Jack Rosewood

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

Peter Manuel: Serial Killer | Book by Hector MacLeod

Killers, Crooks & Cons | Book by Reg McKay

Peter Manuel | Wikipedia

Peter Manuel | The Police Museum

Peter Manuel | Glasgow Times

Peter Manuel | Documentary

Brian Cox Interview

Manhunter (clip)

The Peter Manual case shocked Scotland and the rest of the UK to it's core, Peter Manuel was a kind of evil that nobody had seen before. He had that frightening mix of intelligence, good looks, charisma and master manipulation that future serial killer, Ted Bundy had. The case was front page news for weeks on end during the murders and right up to his day of execution. When he was finally hanged, the people of Scotland breathed a sigh of relief. 

This case may be decades old but to this day the debate and discussions remain, was Peter Manuel insane? should he have been executed or treated for mental illness for the rest of his days? It's a conversation that divides opinion. 

To me, my opinion is, that he was a sick and evil man, there's no denying that but as for being so insane to the point that he didn't know what he was doing, I don't believe that. He pleaded his case and tried to manipulate court officials as well as investigators. He enjoyed playing games with the police and never had an ounce of remorse of what he had done. 

He does remind me of Ted Bundy in some ways in regard to his intelligence and some of his attributes. Ted Bundy played manipulative games right up until his execution by trying to pin the blame of his horrific crimes on having access to porn and adult magazines whilst growing up. 

Peter Manuel haunts Scottish history and will forever remain this dark figure who created such fear, evil and turmoil. Wannabe serial killers will continue to look to him as a sick inspiration and horror and true crime writers will continue to study and research his case for years to come. 

Thank you as always for joining me on another post. Hopefully I will see you again next time for my seventh instalment. 

Stay safe x 

''Killing Her Was As Easy As Washing My Socks'' | The Life & Evil Crimes Of Britain's 'Forgotten' Serial Killer: Patrick Mackay | Serial Killer Series

 (Patrick Mackay. Picture credits: Daily Mail)

Now I like to think of myself as pretty hardcore when it comes to horror movies that I've watched or the disturbing cases that I have written about. I've pretty much been able to research a case, type it all up, hit publish, close the laptop and move on. Obviously I do care about the cases I cover but I'm able to switch off after a post has been completed, I have to otherwise it's not very healthy to have those sorts of thoughts in your head. 

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

(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

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 

He Cut Their Eyes Out: The Gruesome Story of Charles Albright | Serial Killer Series (Warning: Graphic)

(Charles Albright. Picture credit: Born To Kill)

Here we are in the third instalment of my Serial Killer series and this week the focus is on none other than Charles Albright. I'm sure you are pretty freaked out by the picture above and don't those eyes just say it all? very cold, very haunting and very very dark. His eyes have been described as evil and it's no surprise especially if you have knowledge of who he is and his background. 

It's hard know where to start with Charles because his story is a very twisted one and I have to warn you that some of the details will be disturbing so as with all of my posts I just want you to bear that in mind. I try as always to be as sensitive and respectful as possible without shying away from the facts of theses cases. Just as a side note I am still currently working on my true crime book and will keep you posted about that but let's get into this case, shall we? 

Charles Frederick Albright came into the world on the 10th of August 1933 in Amarillo, Texas and was put up for adoption. His birth mother was a nurse and for some unknown reason she gave him up but it was only three weeks later that a couple by the names of Delle and Fred Albright came along to give him a loving home. Obviously they gave Charles his full name and the couple were delighted with this cute little bundle of joy who was now in their lives. 

The Albrights were a close family and both Delle and Fred doted on little Charles. He was a bright and smiley child and his early years were somewhat normal, no abuse or traumatic events occurred. Both parents were very hands on, especially his mother who seemed to rule the household with an iron fist. Delle was a caring woman and very overprotective of her adopted son but there was also a very strange, somewhat sinister side to her too. 

(Charles Albright with his adopted parents. Picture credits: Texas Monthly)

It seemed the novelty of having an adoptive son was wearing off for Delle and Charles would be subjected to some bizarre punishments for the least little thing. If he couldn't finish eating his dinner he would be locked in a dark room. There were occasions where Charles would be forced to have a nap and if he wasn't sleepy she would tie him to the bed. There was a constant state of confusion for Charles because his mother could be both loving and strict. There was a touch of abuse in a psychological manner but he wasn't physically harmed or neglected but the punishments could be harsh. 

Delle encouraged Charles to collect dead animals that were found by the roadside or in the woods and together they had this horrible hobby of cutting the deceased animals open, taking out the remains and stuffing the bodies before sewing them up again. This is known as Taxidermy and as much of a lover of horror as I am and a true crime enthusiast, I would have to say that Taxidermy is creepy as hell in my opinion. As an adult it's not a pleasant thing but can you imagine partaking in this with a child? You're supposed to take kids to the beach and build sandcastles or watch cartoons with them, obviously Delle had other ideas. 

A significant detail which would come into play pretty much for the rest of Charles's life was his fixation on replacing the dead eyes of the animals and eyes in general. In Taxidermy, the common procedure is to replace the deceased animals eyes with plastic or glass shiny ones as an attempt to make them look more alive. This was quite expensive so Delle would encourage Charles to use buttons instead and this gave the animals an even more sinister look, almost like they had two black holes where the eyes should be.

As Charles got older, not content with collecting dead roadkill, he was given a gun and would hunt for small animals to kill himself and take back home to stuff and put on display. This whole sickening routine was deemed perfectly fine by Delle and Fred. 

Despite the strange home life, he was quite a bright child at school but somewhere something went wrong because Charles began to fall off the deep end and by the age of just 13 he had already set himself on a career path of theft and petty crime. He'd been arrested a couple of times for assaults and theft and the second time he was apprehended he was sent to prison for a year and this seemed to have given him a bit of a reality check, for a short period of time at least. When he got out of prison it seemed that he and turned over a new leaf and enrolled in college. 

In the beginning of his stint at a Teacher's college, Charles seemed to be flying high with fantastic grades and was a popular sportsman. He got on with everyone and was said to be charming and always had a laugh with friends but soon strange behaviours were making his friends feel uncomfortable. Charles had found out that a friend of his had just broken up with his girlfriend. As a prank that Charles thought was going to be hilarious, he broke into his friend's room and took personal pictures of the guy's ex-girlfriend. He cut out the eyes in all of the photographs and stuck them on the ceiling so that his friend would feel like her eyes were on him the whole time. 

It wasn't long before Charles's criminal ways popped up again and he ended up getting kicked out of college for stealing. Not letting this deter him from his desired career in teaching, he forged qualifications and documents and found a role as head of Biology at a school. He'd become quite the master conman and if he wasn't stealing, he was committing forgery and of course it was only a matter of time before his cover was blown and he was fired from this role. 

It's amazing to think that someone could manage to get into a teaching role without the proper qualifications and manage to fool everyone around them but back in those days it took a long time for qualifications to be checked and there was no proper system. Today it can all be done in the space of 5 minutes thanks to our advancement of technology but everything back then was pretty much paper based. 

Despite these shenanigans in his working and educational life, his love life seemed to be going from strength to strength and he married a girl named Dixie whom he met at college. His parents had also had some rental properties which were given to him so he was able to rent these properties out and this gave him some money to get by. For some reason, as talented as he was academically, Charles could not seem to finish anything and when it came to jobs, he could only manage about 3 months before either being fired or just quitting.

His love life soon began to suffer because Dixie was getting fed up of looking after him financially. Despite the small income that he made from the rental properties, it seemed that he had more money going out than coming in and he heavily relied on Dixie's earnings from her day job at a gift shop. To show utter disrespect to the woman who was helping keep clothes on his back and food in his mouth, Charles would wait until Dixie left for work in the morning and he would drive to meet sex workers using some of the money she gave him. 

Charles would either meet the sex workers at motels or use one of his rental properties. There they would engage in sexual activity. It got to the point where Charles was well known by the sex workers and they began to trust him. He would buy them food, drugs, alcohol and sometimes he would give them money if they needed it.

Dixie finally gave up on Charles (it's unknown if she found out about the sex workers or grew tired of constantly footing the bill) and the couple divorced. Not having his constant supply of Dixie's wages to keep him going, he turned to crime again and was caught stealing from a hardware store. He was supposed to have served two years but managed to get away with it again and only served 6 months. 

It seemed to be no matter what Charles did, the mistakes that he made or the things that he did to people, he always landed on his feet. The petty crimes were bad enough but he then started to take things further, much further. Being the charismatic conman that he was, he always involved himself in community activities and got close to his neighbours. Everyone thought he was a swell guy and didn't know anything of his past, he even became a trusted babysitter. 

Things turned even darker when he was accused of sexually assaulting one of the children he was supposed to be looking after and he managed to get away with this too. The girl's family didn't want to put their daughter through the added trauma of a trial and Charles claimed to be innocent but pleaded guilty because he just wanted the whole thing to go away. He was placed on probation and no more was said about the matter. 

By the time 1990 rolled around, Charles was 57 years old and his life of petty crime, forgery and sexual assault was now switching to murder. From my research and from various Criminologists that I have followed over the years, they all say a similar thing, it's very rare that people start to become serial killers in their 40s and 50s and in the case of Charles, will we ever know the truth?

Charles selected sex workers from the infamous red light district known as Jefferson Boulevard. His first victim was said to have been 33 year old Mary Lou Pratt. Mary was a mother who was struggling financially and was desperate to get out of the game when her mutilated body was found posed on the street in a residential area known as Oak Cliff. She was partially nude and had been badly beaten and shot in the back of the head.

At the time in the early 1990s, Dallas had a huge spike in homicides and it wasn't seen as unusual for a sex worker to have been found deceased from either a violent incident or a drug overdose. The term used back in those days was 'prostitute' and as sad as it is, there was a stigma attached and little sympathy for women who were classed as being from the wrong sides of the tracks. 

The cops thought that Mary's murder was just another tragic case of a violent and deadly incident with either a pimp or a customer but what they were soon to discover was that this murder scene was different because not only was she horrendously beaten, shot and posed in a certain manner on a public street, she had her eyes removed from the sockets. Her eyes had been removed in such a careful way as to not leave a mark. It was very gruesome and disturbed seasoned detectives as well as the local community. 

A short while after this a friend of Mary's and fellow sex worker, Veronica had been spotted by the police with injuries to her face and head. When they questioned her she told them that she had been with Mary on the night of her murder, she claimed that a white male with ''salt and vinegar'' hair had picked both of them up in his car and at some point in the evening the man turned violent. Veronica managed to run away from the man after he assaulted her and hid in a drain whilst he was looking for her. Luckily she was able to escape from further harm but unfortunately, Mary was unable to get away. 

The police were not sure whether to take Veronica's statement seriously because she had seemed pretty out of it due to being on some form of substance but later on they did take her story serious when another sex worker was found deceased, posed in the same manner near to the location where Mary was found. The victim, 27 year old Susan Beth Peterson was also a working girl who had been beaten, shot and had her eyes removed. It was in this moment that detectives believed that they had a serial killer on their hands. 

The news horrified the local community as news spread in the media. Everyone had already been shocked and horrified by Mary's murder but for this gruesome scene to have happened again, it caused a huge wave of fear throughout Texas. 

Charles was paying attention to the news and obviously loved the horror and fear he was causing as well as the attention he was getting. He chose the location and the poses that he did because he wanted these women to be discovered and for there to be as much devastation as possible. He wanted to play with the police and tried to switch up his routine a little to try and confuse them and throw them off guard. 

His next victim was an African-American woman by the name of Shirley Williams. Shirley had been found near an Elementary school and this time he was careless in the removal of the eyes. It was a horrible scene, Shirley had been mutilated and posed pretty much the same way as Mary and Susan. Shirley had also been a working girl and her body was found in a public street by a horrified waitress. 

(Charles Albright's known victims: From left to right: Mary Lou Pratt, Susan Peterson and Shirley Williams. Picture credits: NY Daily News)

Hairs were found at the scene and sent off for testing and traced back to Charles Albright. He was arrested and put on trial. The jury found him guilty of the murder of Shirley but although they strongly believed that he was responsible for the murders of both Mary and Susan, there was not enough evidence for them to be 100%. It's no secret to anyone though that Charles committed all three murders and in my opinion, possibly more. As I mentioned before, it's rare for a man to start killing like this from his 50s as a first time and the whole procedure of cutting out the eyes so carefully as to not leave a mark in the cases of Mary and Susan. The sad thing is we may never know because his targets were all sex workers. He may have murdered women before but just didn't remove their eyes? 

He was given a life term without parole and was reported to have covered his cell in pictures of eyes he ripped out of magazines and newspapers. He also talked obsessively about eyes, right up until his death. Charles Albright may have been responsible for many more deaths but sadly we will never know because he took all of his secrets to the grave with him when he passed away at the age of 87 on the 22nd of August 2020. 

This was quite a complex case to write about and for those who know the story, there are people who believe that Charles was not responsible for all three of the murders he was suspected of. Some people believe that he murdered many others who were never identified. Maybe the victims that we don't know about where (as sad as it is to say) 'forgotten girls and women' who ran away from home or were on drugs and forced into sex work who got caught up with Charles and met a horrible ending and placed somewhere that has yet to be discovered? We may never know. 

Thank you as always for checking out my latest instalment in my Serial Killer Series, I hope I have been able to bring some new information and insights into these individuals who you may not have heard of before? There's more to come and I hope you will join me for the upcoming posts. 

I just want to take a moment. as I always do in my posts to think of the victims, the ones we know about and the ones that have never been identified and of course their families. May they rest in peace.


Further Reading And Sources:

The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers | Book by Michael Newton

The Big Book of Serial Killers | Book by Jack Rosewood

The Eyeball Killer | Book by John Matthews

Charles Albright | Murderpedia

See No Evil | Texas Monthly

Charles Albright | Wikipedia

Charles Albright | Born To Kill (Documentary)


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