The Shocking True Stories of 20 British Serial Killers, including;
Steven Grieveson: Known as the ‘Sunderland Strangler’ Grieveson murdered four teenaged boys in order to keep his homosexuality a secret.
Catherine Flannagan & Margaret Higgins: Malevolent Irish-born sisters who turned murder into a cottage industry in 1880’s Liverpool.
Colin Pitchfork: When two young girls are murdered in a tiny English village, the police turn to newly discovered DNA technology for an answer. But will they catch the killer before he strikes again?
Robert George Clements: A murderous Bluebeard with a taste for the high life, Dr. Clements sent four wives to their graves before he was exposed as a heartless killer.
Neville Heath: An inveterate liar and conman, Heath was also a sadistic reprobate who sent at least two young women to a horrific death.
Mary Wilson: A black widow with a twist, the elderly Wilson did not kill for money but rather to facilitate her quest to find true love.
Robert Maudsley: Known as Hannibal the Cannibal, Maudsley slaughtered four men – and ate the brains of one of his victims!
Colin Norris: Narcissistic gay nurse who murdered four of his elderly patients simply because they annoyed him.
John Scripps: A globe-trotting British serial killer who left a trail of mutilated bodies from Singapore to Mexico to Thailand.
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The Grindr Serial Killer
“The truth sounded like a lie, so I lied to make it sound like the truth.” – Stephen Port
On a pleasant summer’s morning in August 2014, Barbara Denham set off for a walk with her dog. This was a daily ritual for Barbara and she usually followed a path that led her through the cemetery at the church of St Margaret of Antioch, set within the picturesque grounds of Barking Abbey in southeast London.
Today however would be different to her usual leisurely stroll. As she entered the graveyard of St Margaret’s, she spotted a young man sitting in an upright position against a wall. Barbara at first thought that the man was sleeping but as she got closer, it became apparent that he wasn’t breathing. It would later be determined that he’d died of a drug overdose and as a bottle containing gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (or GHB) was found in his possession, it was assumed that his death had been an accident. It wasn’t. Gabriel Kovari, a 22-year-old Slovak national who’d recently moved to England from Spain, had fallen victim to a serial killer.
Three weeks later, on September 20, 2014, Mrs. Denham was again walking her dog when she had the misfortune of discovering another dead body, sitting in a similar position just feet away from where Gabriel Kovari had been found. The young man was identified as 21-year-old Daniel Whitworth and he too had died of an overdose. This death however was no accident, at least if the suicide note found on the corpse was anything to go by. “I am sorry to everyone, mainly my family, but I can't go on anymore,” it read. “I took the life of my friend Gabriel Kline.” The note went on to describe how Daniel had accidentally overdosed Gabriel with GHB during a sex session. Gabriel Kline as it turned out, was a name used by Gabriel Kovari.
Two young men had now died tragically in the space of just three weeks, their bodies found in the same spot and in remarkably similar circumstances. The police however were quite prepared to accept the accidental death/suicide theory and the investigation went no further. Even the discovery of a third corpse, that of 25-year-old Jack Taylor could not shake them from that belief. It was only when friends and relatives of the victims got involved that the police paid attention. Then their inquiries would lead them to a man they were already acquainted with, a man they’d recently questioned in connection with yet another unexplained death, a sexual predator by the name of Stephen Port.
Stephen Port was born in 1975 in Southend, Essex, although his parents located to Dagenham, east London when he was still a baby. His father was a cleaner for the local council while his mother worked as a supermarket cashier. Money was usually tight in the Port family but Stephen nonetheless grew up in a stable and loving home and was an apparently happy child who did well at school and showed a particular talent for art. At 16 he enrolled at art college but dropped out when his parents could no longer afford the tuition. Thereafter he began an apprenticeship as a chef. He’d end up eventually working at the West Ham bus depot where he prepared meals for drivers and support staff.
Port had been aware since his teens that he was gay but he kept that knowledge from his parents until 2006 when he left home and moved into a small apartment in Barking. Thereafter he immersed himself in the gay scene, aggressively seeking out sexual partners at bars and online. For a time he supplemented his income by working as a male escort. He also acted as a pimp for some of his lovers.
Port’s other vice was drugs. He became a habitual user of GHB, a white powder that can be mixed with water to produce a colorless liquid that can be swallowed or injected and produces a sense of euphoria. It can also render a person unconscious if taken in sufficient quantity, an attribute Stephen Port would soon exploit for sinister purposes.
By 2012 Port had been living in Barking for six years and had all but withdrawn from the active gay scene of pubs and clubs. He’d retreated into the online world, trawling the social networks and chatrooms in pursuit of sex partners. His favorite was Grindr, a gay hook-up app where he typically sought out young men in their teens and early twenties, known in gay parlance as “twinks.” It was around this time that he began indulging his date rape fantasies.
In February 2012, a student in his late teens was lured to Port’s apartment via Grindr. There he was offered a glass of wine, which he found to be slightly bitter. He also noticed a sludge at the bottom of the glass when he finished the drink. By then he was already feeling dizzy and could barely keep his eyes open. The man soon passed out. He woke the next morning disorientated, naked in Port’s bed. All he could recall from the previous evening was waking for a brief moment while Port was raping him. Port however behaved as though nothing had happened. His victim was too afraid and embarrassed to report the incident to the police.
Another man, a Muslim in his early twenties had a similar experience with Port in the summer of 2014. Port had met him on the ‘Fit Lads’ website and the two had hooked up for sex on four occasions. During the fifth visit, Port gave him a glass of water that tasted bitter. Almost as soon as he drank it, the man passed out. He woke some time later in an agitated state, screaming and shouting and demanding to be taken home. Port agreed to take him to the railway station, where the man caused such a scene that he and Port were approached by a couple of police officers. Port however was able to talk his way out of trouble. He told the officers that the man had arrived at his apartment in this condition and that he was helping him home. They were then allowed to leave. The young man did not press charges because he did not want his parents to find out about his sexuality. In truth, he’d had a lucky escape. The next man to fall into Stephen Port’s clutches would not get off so lightly.
Anthony Walgate was 23 years old on the night of Thursday, June 19, 2014, when he met Stephen Port. Originally from Hull, East Yorkshire, Walgate had dreams of becoming a fashion designer and had moved south to study at the University of Middlesex. He’d also begun working as a gay escort and that is how he came into contact with Stephen Port.
At around 4:18 a.m. on June 19, someone placed a 999 call and requested that an ambulance be sent to Cooke Street, Barking. “There's a young boy,” the caller said. “It looks like he's collapsed but he could be drunk.”
Paramedics and police officers were soon on the scene and found the man exactly as the caller had described. He was sitting on the sidewalk with his back against a wall, a black hold-all bag beside him. A cursory examination by the paramedics determined that he was dead. The police then went through the man’s pockets to see if they could find any clue to his identity. What they found instead was a small brown bottle containing a clear liquid – GHB.
It looked to be a case of accidental overdose but the police needed to question the man who’d found the body and made the call to emergency services. He had given his name as Stephen Port and his address as 62 Cooke Street, the same building where the body had been found. Roused from sleep, Port said that he’d arrived home at around 4:00 a.m. to find the young man lying on the ground in front of his apartment building. He’d tried to rouse the man by slapping his face but the man had only responded by making a “gurgling noise.” Propping the man up against the wall, he’d then made the 999 call and gone upstairs to bed. He was tired he said, after working the night shift at his job.
It seemed a viable enough explanation. But as the police started making inquiries to track the victim’s next of kin, they soon discovered that Port had lied to them. He hadn’t “accidentally” encountered Walgate that night, Walgate had been sent to his apartment by an escort agency. The reason they knew this was because Walgate always took the precaution of informing friends of his whereabouts.
Confronted with this new evidence, Port changed his story. He now admitted to hiring Walgate for sex but said that Walgate had arrived at his apartment high and had taken more drugs while he was there. They’d had sex twice, after which Walgate had passed out. He was still fast asleep when Port woke the following day, so Port had left him there and gone to work. When he arrived home later that evening, Port was concerned to find Walgate still sleeping. However, Walgate was quite obviously breathing so Port lay down on the bed beside him and soon fell asleep himself. He woke at around 3 a.m. and found Walgate “rigid and cold.”
Realizing that Walgate was dead, Port had panicked. He was certain that the police would hold him responsible if he reported the death and so he took the decision to drag the body downstairs and then call 999. “The truth sounded like a lie,” Port said, “So I lied to make it sound like the truth.”
Had he given a false name or made the call anonymously, the police would likely never have tracked down Stephen Port. As it was, he was now arrested and charged with perverting the course of justice.
But the police had erred in going for the lesser charge. A cursory examination of Stephen Port’s computer would have told them exactly what they were dealing with. On the day before Anthony Walgate died, Port had carried out a number of internet searches. Some of the search terms he’d used that day were: “sleeping boy,” “unconscious boys,” “drugged and raped,” “taking date rape drug,” “gay teen knocked out raped” and “guy raped and tortured young nude boy.”
Anthony Walgate had not died of an accidental overdose. He’d been drugged and raped and murdered. Moreover, his killer had gotten away with it. Over the next year, while he was out on bail awaiting trial for giving false evidence to the police, Stephen Port would snuff out the lives of three more men – Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor. It is highly likely that he also drugged and raped many others during this time.
And yet Port might well have escaped justice were it not for the persistence of the victim’s friends and family. With the police continuing to insist that the deaths were accidental, Jack Taylor’s family carried out their own investigation during which they discovered CCTV footage of Jack walking along a Barking Street on the day of his death with a tall, blonde man. That man unmistakably was Stephen Port.
Port was arrested at his apartment on October 15, 2015, and charged with causing the deaths of the four young men. At trial, he admitted to drugging and raping the men but denied that he had intended killing them. That argument however was deeply flawed. Port must have known after the death of Anthony Walgate that the drugs he’d given his victims had the potential to kill. Add to that a solid forensic case and there was little chance of Stephen Port escaping the justice he so richly deserved.
The writing on the ‘suicide note’ found on Daniel Whitworth was identified by an expert as Port’s. The paper that it was written on, as well as the plastic sleeve in which it was found, were from Port's flat. The blue sheet in which Whitworth’s body was wrapped, matched a set that Port owned. Additionally there was Port's DNA all over the victims and their possessions.
Stephen Port was found guilty of the murders of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor. He was also convicted of the rapes of three other men, of ten counts of administering a substance with intent and of four sexual assaults. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life tariff, meaning that he will never be released.
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