Police divers searching for two missing women believed to be victims of the self-proclaimed “crossbow cannibal”, Stephen Griffiths, yesterday discovered body parts in West Yorkshire’s river Aire, only 200 yards from where 36-year-old prostitute Suzanne Blamires’s dismembered body was found on Tuesday.
Griffiths, 40, a criminology student, appeared in court in Bradford on Friday charged with the murders of Ms Blamires, Shelley Armitage, 31, and Susan Rushworth, 43. All were sex workers.
As part of the search for the two missing women, West Yorkshire Police’s underwater search unit discovered what are thought to be human remains around midday yesterday in a stretch of the river at Shipley.
“The remains will now be forensically examined,” said a police spokesman. “It will be fast-tracked, but could still take a few days to identify them.”
The underwater search effort was part of a massive hunt involving more than 100 officers.
Experts from the Forensic Science Service and the National Policing Improvement Agency’s Serious Crime Analysis Section joined local detectives, police community support officers and teams of “cadaver dogs” in searching as many as 128 sites in the region yesterday, police apparently concentrating on three key areas: a section of the river Aire between Saltaire and Shipley, and two areas around Titus Salt’s Mill and Griffiths’s flat on Thornton Road in Bradford.
Officers searching his home were just a few metres from Bradford Magistrates’ Court, where Griffiths gave his name as “the crossbow cannibal” when he appeared on Friday. He was remanded in custody at Wakefield Prison until his next appearance in court on 7 June. Police are investigating Griffiths in connection with at least three other unsolved murders of prostitutes in West Yorkshire.
The three women with whose murders Griffiths is charged all worked on Thornton Road, near Bradford’s red light district, about four miles from the Aire.
Holmfield Court flats, where the former public schoolboy lived, were cordoned off by police yesterday. Members of the public laid floral tributes to the women nearby.
On Friday, forensic officers were seen searching drains near the flats for body parts, using mechanical diggers. Officers have also searched nearby Lister Park, one of Bradford’s larger green spaces. For many, there are grim echoes of the police investigations into the killings by Peter Sutcliffe, 30 years ago: his Heaton home was a mile from Thornton Road. The searches continue today.