The Alarm Bells Should Have Been Ringing
It’s no surprise that Stephen Griffiths – who was charged last week with murdering three women in Bradford – allegedly abused animals in the past. According to news reports, Griffiths, now known as the “crossbow killer”, bred rats to feed to his lizards. A former friend claimed that on one occasion, Griffiths ate a live baby rat whole and found this cruel act amusing.
Child-killers Mary Bell, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables as well as multiple murderers Ian Huntley, Thomas Hamilton (Dunblane massacre), Fred West, Denis Nilsen, Ian Brady and Jeffrey Dahmer all started out by deliberately harming animals. Stephen Barker, one of the perpetrators in the case of Baby P, also had a history of severe cruelty to animals and used to torture guinea pigs and frogs.
In the US, the Federal Bureau of Investigation takes the link between cruelty to animals and violence towards humans so seriously that it uses reports of crimes against animals in analysing the threat potential of suspected and known criminals. And the American Psychiatric Association identifies cruelty to animals as one of the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorders.
If Griffiths is convicted, this tragic case will again highlight how vital it is for people to intervene when a person commits a sadistic or violent act towards an animal. Abusers enjoy the feeling of power they get when they victimise any defenceless living being, and they must receive counselling and correction early on.
For more information, please order our free “Cruelty to Animals, Violence to Humans” factsheet.