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When Life Means Life – The “Four Of Hearts”Murders

“It was the most brutal act of slaughter I have ever seen. It is all the more chilling when you realise that he must have spent at least half an hour inflicting those terrible wounds” – (Ret’d) Det Insp Bob Meek – South Yorkshire Police describing the scene of the Raymond Ford murder

Anthony Paul Arkwright

Anthony Paul Arkwright wanted nothing more than to become infamous. In the belief that he had found the most successful way to do this, over the space of 56 hours in the summer of 1988, Arkwright killed four people in what are some of the most horrific and bloodthirsty crimes in British criminal history. He has spent nearly 30 years behind bars for these crimes, and has been told that he will die in prison. Yet the name Anthony Arkwright is not largely known, and he has never gained the notoriety that he so craved and that cost four people their lives. He does remain a monstrously evil killer, and his story is worth telling.

An extremely disturbed young man, Arkwright was the product of a broken home, and had had several spells in children’s homes and care from a very early age. This dysfunctional childhood led to his eventual expulsion from school, and after drifting into criminality, by the age of 21 Arkwright was well known to police as a prolific petty criminal. He was a violent bully and a habitual burglar who had spent several spells in Borstal, young offenders institutions, and ultimately prison. Throughout his many spells in custody, he used to while away time in the various prison libraries reading as much as he could about serial killers. Arkwright idolised Peter Sutcliffe and Jack The Ripper, and used to boast to whoever would listen that one day he would emulate their crimes, and one day become as infamous as them.

When he was released from his latest incarceration, Arkwright lived in a council flat on Denman Road in the town of Wath, South Yorkshire, where he had been born and raised. Arkwright fancied himself as a bit of a survival fanatic, but this didn’t extend any further than building a series of dens around the area. Arming himself with a hunting knife, Arkwright would then spend hours sat in these hideouts fantasising about people who he wanted to hurt or kill. Arkwright did work- albeit  periodically, and 1988 found him doing menial labour at a scrapyard in nearby Mexborough. But on the 26th August 1988 he was sacked from his job for appalling attendance and bad attitude.

It was the trigger for one of the most horrific killing sprees in British criminal history, one that eventually earned Arkwright a whole life tariff.

After being sacked from his job, Arkwright took his severance pay and went on a drinking spree that afternoon in a nearby pub. By 4:15pm, he was very drunk, and his fantasies of killing were about to make the leap from fantasy to reality. One of the people Arkwright had most fantasised about killing was his maternal grandfather, 68 year old Lithuanian born Stasys Puidokis, whom Arkwright (incorrectly) believed was actually his father and that he (Arkwright)was the product of an incestuous relationship between Mr Puidokis and Arkwright’s own mother. That afternoon, Arkwright headed to his grandfather’s home in Ruskin Drive, Mexborough, but found no-one home. He then headed to his grandfathers allotment a mile away, and found the old man there tending his vegetable patch. Turning to greet his grandson, Stasys was stabbed with such ferocity in the neck that his spinal cord was severed, and was instantly paralysed. Arkwright then dragged his grandfather inside his small shed, and proceeded to embed a large axe into the old man’s chest. He then smashed his skull to pieces with repeated blows from a 14lb lump hammer. He then locked the body inside the shed and went back to his grandfather’s house to steal his life savings of £3000.

The body of Stasys Puidokis
Elsa Konradite

Finding his grandfather’s housekeeper at the house, 72 year old Elsa Konradite, Arkwright smashed her skull in with an axe and left her dead in the kitchen.

Arkwright spent the evening drinking in several pubs in the area, deliberately drawing attention to himself by dropping hints about his crime, and attempting to pick fights with several people. People remarked later that they remembered the “wild eyed weirdo”, demonstrating this craving for recognition and attention.

“It’s been murder on the allotment today” – Anthony Arkwright (to a barman that evening)

By 3am on the morning of Saturday 27th August, Arkwright was back at his home in Wath – and was ready to kill again.

Raymond Ford

A favourite target of Arkwright’s to terrorise was his neighbour, 45 year old ex-teacher Raymond Ford. Ford was a severely depressed and ill heavy drinker who lived in near squalor, rarely venturing out except to buy more cheap cider and The Guardian. Often, Arkwright would smash his windows for fun and force dog faeces through his letterbox, and just a few days previously had broken into his home and stolen a valuable antique clock and a microwave oven. Mr Ford had reported this to the police, and had named Arkwright as the likely perpetrator. In Arkwright’s eyes, this signed Mr Ford’s death warrant.

When Arkwright returned home at 3am, he stripped naked and put on a “Prince Of Darkness” devil mask. He then entered Mr Ford’s home through a broken window, which Arkwright himself had broken a few days previously when he had thrown a dustbin through it. Finding Mr Ford slumped in an armchair, heavily drunk, Arkwright then unleashed his full sadistic nature on the defenceless man. In scenes that sickened hardened detectives who later saw the scene, Arkwright stabbed Mr Ford more than 250 times in every part of his body. Some accounts put the figure as nearer to 500 times. Such was the ferocity of the attack, and the extent of Arkwright’s bloodlust, that one of the knives broke off and was left in the wound. Arkwright then fetched another knife and continued stabbing him. Finally, Ford was then gutted and disembowelled, and his entrails and organs were draped and scattered around his bungalow. Police officers at the scene described it as the most horrific crime scene they had ever encountered.

After spending about an hour mutilating Ford, Arkwright went home and showered the blood off himself, then went to bed. At 8:00am that Saturday morning, police knocked on his door and arrested him on suspicion of the burglary earlier in the week at Mr Ford’s house. He was detained for a few hours before being released on bail to attend court the next week. Arkwright would make it to court, but on a much more serious and horrific charge.

When he was released, Arkwright spent the Saturday evening drinking around several pubs, again in Mexborough. In the early hours of Sunday 28th August 1988, he found himself back at home and in an almost carbon copy of what had transpired just 24 hours before, Arkwright again targeted another of his neighbours to kill.

Marcus Law

25 year old Marcus Law lived across from Arkwright in a specially adapted bungalow that catered for his wheelchair, having become paralysed in a motorcycle accident some years previously. Arkwright broke into Marcus’ home and slaughtered and mutilated him, beginning with stabbing him over 70 times. When an attempt to disembowel Marcus failed, one of his own crutches was rammed into a large wound in his stomach. What sickened police called to the scene more than anything was that Arkwright had gouged out Marcus’ eyes, and had placed unlit cigarettes in the empty sockets, into the victim’s ears and nostrils, and into his mouth.

Obscenely, the following morning Arkwright had a chance meeting with the mother of Marcus Law, and smirked as he told her:

“Sorry about poor old Marcus – he’s killed himself” – Anthony Arkwright to Mrs Law

Mrs Law hurried around to her son’s bungalow, and made the horrific discovery.

Arkwright was arrested a few hours later on suspicion of the murder of Marcus Law, and the interview that followed is as bizarre as it is macabre. Arkwright had a pack of playing cards with him, and shuffled through them as detectives attempted to question him about Marcus’ killing. Stopping when he got to the four of hearts card, Arkwright said:

“I can read the future from these cards. This is the master card – it means you have four bodies and a madman on the loose. I can see Marcus Law, but the others are indescribable. They are just too horrible to describe” – Anthony Arkwright to detectives.

Were there four murders? Police didn’t know, because he wouldn’t say any more than give cryptic ramblings. He revelled in being the centre of attention, but wouldn’t expand on anything more, just that he denied killing Marcus. Police had little evidence against Arkwright, but with him as their prime suspect in mind, they held him in custody whilst they set about making enquiries in the Denham Road area. Upon learning that Arkwright was due to appear in court on the burglary charge, they went to speak to Raymond Ford, and PC David Winter discovered a sight that he would never forget. Seeing the broken window, PC Winter made his way into Ford’s flat. On the floor in the corridor were several items, bits and pieces – including a Prince of Darkness Devil mask. The television was on, and the central heating, and it was then that PC Winter noticed deep bloodstaining to the entirety of the flat. When the unmistakeable stench of decomposition led PC Winter to the bedroom, he discovered the remains of Raymond Ford.

“All the bits and pieces in the hallway, that were his internal organs. He’d removed practically every internal organ in his body” – PC David Winter(upon discovering the body of Raymond Ford)

Police had found the second body – and knew that Arkwright was telling the truth.

Attempts were then made to trace friends and acquaintances of Arkwright, in an attempt to try to identify anybody missing. Six days after they had both been murdered, the bodies of Stasys and Elsa were discovered. Arkwright soon confessed to the murders of his grandfather, Raymond Ford, and Marcus Law. He stopped short of actually confessing to the murder of Elsa, but went as far to say that he had stood over her body with the axe in his hand. He was charged, and was incarcerated at Hull prison whilst awaiting trial. Not being content with being out of the limelight, Arkwright “invented” a fifth victim, which led police on a wild goose chase searching a nearby lake and drainage ditch. It was simply to gain attention, and this continued whilst he was awaiting trial. Arkwright was angered at what he deemed was a lack of respect and recognition, and regularly staged “dirty protests”, smearing his cell walls with excrement. When this failed to gain him the notoriety he craved, Arkwright then changed tack and managed to convince prison doctors that he was insane. Transferred to Rampton Secure Hospital in Merseyside, detailed examinations found this to be a ruse, and that he was fit to plead.

“He is the sanest man in the building” – Psychiatrist at Rampton Secure Hospital

A smirking Arkwright at his trial in 1989

In July 1989, Anthony Arkwright came to trial for the murders he had committed. After an adjournment requested by his legal representation, Arkwright changed his not guilty plea to that of guilty of the murders of his grandfather, Raymond Ford, and Marcus Law. He maintained a plea of not guilty to the murder of Elsa Konradite, and that charge was ordered by Mr Justice Boreham, the presiding judge, to be left on file. Anthony Arkwright was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that he serve at least 25 years. In 1990, the then Home Secretary Jack Straw declared this term as too lenient and increased the term to that of a whole life tariff.

Why then, did Arkwright kill? It was established that he had a deprived upbringing, and at his trial his defence portrayed a picture of a young man suffering from severe personality damage and disorder. Did he brood and brood until one day, the trigger for his killing spree was being fired from his job? More likely is that Arkwright craved infamy, so many of his actions show this. The choice of victims – all that could be easily traced back to him. The bragging and making jokes and quips about his having committed murder. The macabre act with the playing cards, the dirty protests in prison, the creation of a fifth victim and the ruse to convince doctors that he was insane. All the evidence points to a deeply disturbed individual that craved attention and would have loved nothing more than to have been one of Britain’s best known and most reviled killers.

But for all his horrific crimes, the name of Anthony Arkwright has never made it into the public consciousness like either of the Ripper’s that he so desperately wanted to emulate. Instead, he serves his time in prison with no possible chance of release. He has never expressed any emotion, or remorse, or explanations for his actions. The closest he has ever come to doing so is to claim that he killed Marcus Law because he was fed up of him asking Arkwright for cigarettes! The name of Anthony Arkwright is hardly remembered, indeed, even largely unknown. But the families of Arkwright’s victims will never forget what he has done, and even years later his horrific actions still caused tragic ripples. 14 years after his son’s horrific murder, Marcus Law’s father Tony committed suicide by gassing himself in his car. He had never got over his son’s horrific death.

A retired police officer who worked on the inquiry into Arkwright’s crimes was supportive of the sentence that Arkwright received.

“From the day we brought him in for the Marcus Law murder to the day he was jailed, Arkwright seemed genuinely proud of what he had done. He expected everyone to revere him, to be fascinated by him. He was a messed up kid, desperate for attention. In his defected mind he chose murder to get the attention he craved. He’s the most dangerous person I ever met in 25 years on the job – he should never get out”. – (Ret’d) Det Insp Bob Meek – South Yorkshire Police



The True Crime Enthusiast

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