Published Monday, 18 March 2013
Criminologist Professor David Wilson talks about what makes serial killers tick. (© Ken McKay)
Professor David Wilson uses his Channel 5 series to look into the actions and motivations of some of the UK's most notorious criminals.
"Last week, when the first episode of the series went out, the production company had telephone calls from the lawyer of Levi Bellfield - who was featured in the first programme," he recalled.
"Serial killers still feel that they can in some way construct the picture that you and I are going to have about who they are and what they've done."
In the latest instalment of Killers Behind Bars, Professor Wilson takes viewers into the mind of Stephen Griffiths - a PhD level Criminology student who branded himself the Crossbow Cannibal after killing at least three women.
"Most serial killers, unlike the Hollywood stereotype, fit in. They merge into our culture," the expert explained.
"Stephen Griffiths deliberately went out to be odd, to be eccentric, to draw attention to himself.
"There's this narcissism that's running through him. He even named himself the Crossbow Cannibal when he stood up in court. He wanted to shock."
All of these killers watch and listen and try to retain power and try to manipulate their image all the time that they are behind bars.
Professor David Wilson
Griffiths did just that when one of his murders was caught on CCTV, leading to his arrest - the first time a serial killer has ever been caught in the act on camera.
In scenes due to be aired later this week, a detective explains: "He did tell us that he'd dismembered women and said he'd eaten parts of the first two ..."
The Crossbow Cannibal was jailed for life for the murders of three women in Bradford in 2010, but it remains unclear if other victims have yet to be linked with him.
While Griffiths did at one point claim to have killed five people, he has since only admitted to three murders - the number needed to be considered a serial killer in the academic sense, something he would have been all too aware of.
Professor Wilson feels that Griffiths, who seems to have been influenced by other serial killers - including 'Acid Bath Murderer' John George Haigh, who went to the same school years earlier, and the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe - was "a wannabe serial killer".
He added: "Chillingly for me, on a personal level, I discovered that Griffiths was actually reviewing my books (about killer Steven Wright) on the internet."
That discovery has led to Professor Wilson "self-censoring" himself a lot more and being very careful about the specifics he reveals.