'Crossbow cannibal' remanded over prostitute murders

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The Independent Online

Criminology student Stephen Griffiths dubbed himself the "crossbow cannibal" today when he appeared in court accused of murdering three prostitutes.

The former public schoolboy made two appearances today - before magistrates and then a crown court judge - accused of killing Suzanne Blamires, Shelley Armitage and Susan Rushworth, who all went missing in Bradford.



When he was asked for his name at Bradford Magistrates Court Griffiths, 40, replied: "The crossbow cannibal."



Asked for his address, Griffiths, who was wearing a black shirt and navy blue jeans, replied: "Erm ... here I guess."



Relatives of some of the victims were in court for this hearing.



Some wiped away tears at the start of proceedings. Others stared intently at Griffiths, who sat fidgeting and touching his head, or staring silently at the floor,



Four hours later Griffiths made his second appearance of the day at Bradford Crown Court. This time he spoke only to confirm his full name.



As he was driven away from the crown court in a van, a crowd which had gathered outside the building shouted abuse at the vehicle.



Griffiths is charged with murdering Ms Blamires, 36, between May 20 and May 25; murdering Ms Rushworth between June 22 2009 and May 25 this year, and murdering Ms Armitage between April 25 and May 25 this year.



Police said yesterday that the remains of Ms Blamires were found on Tuesday afternoon in water just a few yards from where the busy Otley Road crosses the River Aire in Shipley.



Ms Blamires was last seen on Friday, while Ms Armitage, 31, has been missing since Monday, April 26, and Ms Rushworth, 43, disappeared on June 22 last year.



Griffiths, a psychology graduate undertaking postgraduate research in criminology at Bradford University, was arrested on Monday at his home on the edge of Bradford's red-light district.



He lived in a flat in Thornton Road, just a few hundred yards from the courts he appeared in today.



Griffiths lived in the flats for about 13 years. He attended the private Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield in his teens.



Today a huge police operation was continuing to find the bodies of Ms Armitage and Ms Rushworth.



A lorry with a digging arm was brought into to help with an excavation in Thornton Road.



Numerous searches were continuing across the city using police, forensic officers and specially trained dogs.



At the end of Griffiths's crown court appearance he was remanded in custody.



There was no application for bail.



Griffiths will appear before Bradford Crown Court again on June 7 via video link from Wakefield Prison.