Image: Stephen Griffiths
West Yorkshire via AFP - Getty I
Stephen Griffiths, who dubbed himself the "Crossbow Cannibal," was jailed for life Tuesday.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 12/21/2010 2:04:14 PM ET 2010-12-21T19:04:14

A British man who called himself the "Crossbow Cannibal" has been sentenced to life in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to killing three prostitutes.

Stephen Griffiths, 40, a Ph. D student in criminology, quietly said "guilty" as each of the three charges was read in a packed courtroom in the central England city of Leeds.

Some spectators sobbed as gruesome details of the killings were revealed.

"The circumstances of these murders are so wicked and monstrous they leave me in no doubt the defendant should be kept in prison for the rest of his life," said Justice Charles Openshaw.

Griffiths admitted murdering Suzanne Blamires, 36, Shelley Armitage, 31, and Susan Rushworth, 43, who all worked as prostitutes near his home in Bradford. He showed no emotion in court.

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Blamires was killed in May. Armitage was reported missing in April and Rushworth, whose body has not been found, was reported missing in June last year.

The killer had boasted to police of eating the flesh of Blamires.

Police recovered 81 pieces of her body, and found a crossbow bolt and a broken knife in her skull.

Police also recovered photographs and video from Griffiths' flat, including an image of Armitage lying dead in the bath.

Escape attempt
The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Griffiths shot Blamires in the head with the bolt as she tried to escape.

She had managed to run out of his flat, but he caught her, knocked her to the ground, then fired the fatal shot, the paper reported.

This incident was captured by a surveillance camera in a corridor of Griffiths' apartment block and was later seen by a security guard, the Telegraph said. This led to his arrest.

In the film, he is seen raising a can of drink towards the camera, as if giving a toast, after carrying out the murder.

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The night before this happened, the Telegraph said, Griffiths wrote on his MySpace page which used the name "Ven Pariah": "What will this pseudo-human do, one wonders. Poor Stephen, pretended to be me, but he was only the wrapping. He knew towards the end, that I supplied the inner core of iron. Hatred Bound Tightly In Flesh. At very long last, the time has come to act out."

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Griffiths also filmed the other attacks on his cell phone, which he lost on a train. The Telegraph reported that the phone was sold twice before being traced by police. A senior detective described the footage on the phone, which police traced, as the most disturbing he had ever seen, the Telegraph said.

The mental health of the defendant had been examined and there was "no question that he was fit to plead" the judge said, according to the Telegraph's report.

The newspaper said police believed Griffiths had killed a total of six women.

After the court hearing, Detective Superintendent Sukhir Singh, of West Yorkshire Police, told reporters that the investigation would continue, but said there was no "direct evidence" to link Griffiths to disappearances of other women.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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