‘How could he do it?’ Father of Suffolk Strangler speaks
PUBLISHED: 16:39 06 December 2017 | UPDATED: 20:01 06 December 2017
The father of serial killer Wright wonders: ‘did all this begin when his mother left him as an eight-year-old?’
His conviction opened the floodgates to a backlog of terrible crimes which serial killer Steve Wright could have carried out years before his arrest - and his father Conrad is haunted by “troubling” thoughts that his son could have taken more lives.
Tonight’s Channel 5 documentary My Son the Serial Killer, Mr Wright, 81, revealed his suspicions that his son, who is serving a whole life imprisonment for the murder of five women in the final months of 2006, was responsible for more deaths.
He said he was “troubled” by the fact his son had worked with missing estate agent Suzy Lamplugh on the QE2 cruise ship and that photographs of the pair together had set off alarm bells. Suzy disappeared aged 25 in 1986: Wright was on leave when Suzy disappeared.
And he also recalled the period when Wright ran the Ferry Boat Inn in what was Norwich’s red light district in the 1980s and when city sex workers went missing – Michelle Bettles, 22, was found strangled in Dereham after disappearing from Norwich in 2002 and had been a regular at the pub while two years earlier, sex worker Kellie Pratt went missing from Norwich and in 1992, 16-year-old Natalie Pearman was strangled by a man she picked up from ‘the block’, her body dumped just outside Norwich.
Wright’s father said he found the coincidences of the women’s murders and disappearance at the time his son was living in Norwich “troubling” and added: “what happened to those girls when he ran the Ferry Boat? There are so many questions to my mind.”
His suspicions were backed by former Met detective Sue Hill, who said: “I totally believe he is responsible for more deaths.”
Steve Wright was jailed for life in 2008 for the murders of Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 24, Anneli Alderton, 24, Annette Nicholls, 29 and Paula Clennell, 24, who were killed within a 10-day spree described as “the fastest selling killing spree in British history”.
His father said he had first been alerted to his son’s arrest when reporters came to the door – the former RAF policeman had been following the case on television.
Wright was his second child, born in Norfolk he spent his early years in Singapore and Malta before returning to England at the age of eight with his parents and three siblings – an older brother and two sisters. Back at home, Mr Wright separated from his wife.
“We separated in Ipswich railway station of all places, said Mr Wright, “…an eight-year-old slowly watching his mother stay on the train…is that where it all began?”
He added his son had started to use the services of sex workers when he was on the QE2 and would visit massage parlours in various ports and continued to pay for sexual services when he married Diane Cassell in 1987 and took over the Ferry Boat Inn.
Mr Wright recalled nights spent together before his son’s arrest: “I used to sit in the evening with him and look at him and think is Steve really here? He’d get into his own world. If I sat in the room with Steven and he was watching television he would have been so engrossed, especially if there’s a little bit of aggression it, he would be living it, he would be there. I don’t know what was going on in his head really.”
He added that had never seen Wright being violent towards women but that his son had written to him once from prison, claiming he had “seen too much anger and violence in his childhood”, a claim he refuted.
Haunted by his son’s crimes, Mr Wright said that although no one had ever blamed him for them, he blamed himself: “I just felt so bloody sorry, I felt guilty. This is all because of me...my son is responsible for taking away their daughters. I can’t see how he could do it, or how anyone could do that, let alone my son...”
Steve Wright’s five victims:
Tania Nicol, 19, was the youngest and first of Wright’s victims. The former Chantry High School pupil went missing from the red light area in Ipswich on October 30. Police divers found her on December 8 at Copdock.
Gemma Adams, 25, who had grown up in Kesgrave, went missing on November 15. Her boyfriend of 10 years reported her missing after she failed to respond to his texts. Her body was found on December 2.
Anneli Alderton, 24, went missing on December 3. Her body was found in woodland at Nacton a week later, deliberately “posed” in a “cruciform” shape. The former Copleston High School pupil was three months pregnant when she died.
Annette Nicholls, 29, was last seen alive on December 8. Her naked body was also found in a “cruciform” pose, four days later. Her body was found along the Old Felixstowe Road, close to the body of Paula Clennell.
Paula Clennell, 24, had last been seen alive on December 10. She had given a TV interview just days before her disappearance, admitting she was “wary” about getting into cars but had to fund her drug habit. She was found dead on December 12.