- Grady Stiles Jr. lies buried in the Showmen’s section of Sunset Memory Gardens Cemetery in Thonotosassa, Florida.
- On the night of November 29, 1992, a hired assassin gunned down Grady.
- The assassin took 1500 US dollars in cash to put three bullets into Grady’s head.
Who was Grady Stiles Jr.?
Why murder him?
Who was the assassin?
Who hired him?
Continue reading to find out…
The Stiles family suffers from ectrodactyly. It is a deformity in which the fingers and toes fuse together to look like the claws of a lobster.
Grady Franklin Stiles Jr. was born on July 18, 1937, in Pittsburgh. ‘The Lobster Boy’ was his nickname. He followed his father, Grady Stiles Sr. into the circus. His father had the same deformity.
Grady was unable to walk. He used his hands and arms for movement. As a result, he had immense upper body strength. He married twice and had four children. Two of his children also had lobster claws. So, the circus welcomed them with open arms. They all toured as ‘The Lobster Family’.
While they were not touring, the family lived in Gibsonton, Florida. It was the den of all circus performers during the circus off-season.
However, heavy drinking was Stiles’ favorite hobby. In addition, his anger had no limits and he would easily choke people with his claws. He used his amazingly strong arms to torture his wives and children.
In 1978, Stiles’ daughter, Donna, fell in love and got engaged. This did not go down well with her daddy. He disapproved of this relationship. The night before the wedding, Stiles picked up a shotgun and murdered his to-be-son-in-law.
The media went into a frenzy. Furthermore, Grady Stiles admitted to committing the murder and showed no remorse. He used his condition to his advantage. Stiles almost ‘clawed’ his way out of the punishment and got a sympathy verdict of 15 years probation. Because of all this, Donna never spoke to her father again.
Stiles remarried his first wife, Mary, and also quit drinking. But, old habits die hard. After some time, he again took to drinking and beating his family members. “I killed before and got away with it, I can do it again.” was now his favorite taunt to his family.
On November 29, 1992, Stiles was watching TV in his living room. The assassin shot him while he was on his sofa. Thus, it was the end of the torturer. Mary and her stepson, Harry Newman, had stepped out of their home just before the murder.
Later, the police concluded that Stiles’ wife, Mary, and Harry had hired their 17-year-old neighbor, Chris Wyant for this job. He was also a circus performer.
Finally, all three were arrested. Wyant was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 27 years in prison. Harry, considered to be the mastermind, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life-imprisonment. Also, Mary was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
In her defense, Mary said, “My husband was going to kill my family. I believe that from the bottom of my heart. I’m sorry this happened, but my family is safe now.”
The family has come a long way. Stiles’ son and daughter make sporadic appearances in the circus. Grady III has a daughter, Sara, who does not have ectrodactyly. Grady’s daughter, Cathy, who also has lobster claws, has played roles in the HBO series Carnivale and the Tim Burton film, Big Fish.