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Stephen Griffiths, a 40-year-old graduate student in criminology, was charged with the murder of three prostitutes from the West Yorkshire area of England. Griffiths is alleged to have killed Suzanne Blamires, Susan Rushworth, and Shelley Armitage within the city’s red light district in the past 11 months.

Griffiths was reportedly conducting research on serial killers, and told a neighbor he was “getting a PhD in murder and Jack the Ripper.”

Griffiths was caught after review of closed circuit security footage revealed him beating up a woman and then shooting her in the head with a crossbow. Later, the woman’s head and body parts were discovered in a local river.

“Griffiths holds a degree in psychology and had written extensively on the internet about some of history’s most notorious mass murderers. On a website, he called himself a ‘misanthrope who brought hate into heaven.'”

Griffiths appeared in court on Friday and identified himself as, “The Crossbow Cannibal.”

A forensic professor of mine once brought up the Friedrich Nietzsche quote, “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” The professor explained that in the field of forensic psychology we would come across people and acts that were “pure evil” and that we must take care to prevent against resetting our worldview to accommodate horrific violence as the norm.

We don’t know much yet about Stephen Griffiths, I expect we’ll learn more as the case progresses, but I wonder, is this a case of someone who had sadistic traits and was inclined to study people like himself? Or, a case where the material being studied inspired his decision to become violent?

Based on what we know so far, I’m more inclined to believe the former is true in this case; however, it will be interesting to learn how the man who studied serial killers became one…