Bradford murder suspect listed killers on MySpace
Media find Stephen Griffiths guilty for ‘creepy’ pages before police bring charges
Stephen Griffiths, the man arrested over the murder of three women in Bradford who had been working as prostitutes, ran a MySpace page under the pseudonym ‘Ven Pariah’ on which he listed 50 “star” serial killers and posted pictures of himself with bizarre captions, according to a report in the Sun.
The 40-year-old PhD criminology student was arrested on Monday on suspicion of the suspected murders of three missing women - Suzanne Blamires, Shelley Armitage and Susan Rushworth. Police did not name Griffiths, but his identity was revealed to the press by neighbours and other local sources.
CCTV footage is thought to have played a major part in his arrest – with one report claiming the murder of a woman with a crossbow was captured on film. Police have until this evening to question Griffiths before they must either release him, or charge him.
If Griffiths is charged, contempt laws should limit the media to reporting on nothing more than the proceedings in court.
In the meantime, the Sun is making much of its exclusive access to Griffiths’s MySpace page which has apparently now been taken down at the request of police. The paper shows a bare-chested photo of Griffiths, accompanied by his caption which reads: “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides”. The paper claims another picture on the site has the “creepy” caption: “What will this pseudo human do. One wonders?"
In an excerpt allegedly taken from the writing of his alter ego Ven Pariah, Griffiths observes: “I am a pseudo human at best. A demon at worst.”
Among these tidbits, the Sun comments: “His preferred reading is ‘professional-academic literature’ on ‘aggregate homicide’, ‘multiple homicide, capital punishment, and targeted political homicide’.” The question for investigators is whether this reading material, and the list of 50 serial killers he posted, is damning evidence of an “obsession” with murder, as the Sun calls it, or unsurprising for somebody writing a PhD on homicide.
It is impossible to verify the Sun’s claims about Griffiths’s MySpace pages because they have been taken down. (Although this was apparently at the request of police, it should be noted that both MySpace and the Sun are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International.)
The coverage recalls that of the murders of sex workers in Ipswich in 2006, for which fork-lift driver Steve Wright is currently serving a life sentence. Before they caught Wright, police first arrested Tom Stephens, a local eccentric who had befriended some of the women.
Like Griffiths’s MySpace pages, Stephens’s pages quickly became the subject of national attention. On December 18, 2006, the Guardian revealed that Stephens had “a profile on the MySpace website in which he calls himself ‘The Bishop’.” The Guardian also described some of the photographs posted by Stephens. “The grainy main photograph on the 37-year-old’s profile shows him smiling and wearing a fishing hat,” the paper said. In other photographs, he was “holding up a can of custard” and “wearing eyeshadow”.
Stephens was released on police bail three days later, his reputation in tatters. Yet during Wright’s trial, his defence counsel, Timothy Langdale QC, dragged Stephens’s name into proceedings, positing the implausible scenario that Wright was not working alone.
While the case against Griffiths appears damning at this stage, it is worth remembering that no charges were ever brought against Stephens, dubbed a weirdo by the media, but, in the event, an innocent man. ·