MARCUS Law was a big man but, wheelchair-bound after a motorcycle accident, he was no match for his deranged neighbour, Anthony Arkwright.
In the early hours of Sunday, August 28, 1988, Arkwright, an evil fantasist who had boasted to friends that one day he would be as infamous as Jack the Ripper, broke into Mr Law’s specially-adapted bungalow in Denman Road, Wath, and stabbed him 70 times.
In what he would later describe as punishment for all the cigarettes Mr Law, 25, had scrounged over recent months, Arkwright, 22, then attempted to gut his victim. He also gouged out his eyeballs and placed unlit cigarettes in the sockets, in his ears, up his nostril and in his mouth.
The horrific murder continued to haunt Mr Law’s father, retired engineer Anthony Law, and an inquest heard yesterday that 14 years later he killed himself in a fit of depression.
He was tormented with the thought that somehow he could have prevented the brutal death of his youngest son, Marcus.
But Arkwright’s thirst for notoriety was growing by the minute. His next step was to express his grief about the suicide of “poor old Marcus” to the victim’s mother, who found her son dead 30 minutes later.
Police were swift to earmark Arkwright as a suspect, and hauled him to the station for questioning.
At that point they were unaware he had already committed two other gruesome murders – and that he had spent 12 hours in police custody on suspicion of burglary between executing his second victim and Mr Law.
In the weeks before the 56-hour murder spree Arkwright was working in a Mexborough scrapyard. He sometimes stayed at his father’s flat in Denman Road or bedded down in hideouts he had constructed by the railway tracks, casting himself in the role of an SAS-style survivalist, with a knife tucked down his boots.
His behaviour was growing increasingly bizarre. He had become obsessed with the mistaken belief that he had been born out of an incestuous relationship between his mother and her father, his grandfather, Stasys Puidokis.
When he was sacked from his job on Friday, August 26, for his atrocious attendance record, Arkwright got drunk and the nightmare began.
At around 4.30pm that day he went to his grandfather’s allotment, near his home in Ruskin Drive, Mexborough, and stabbed the 68-year-old in the neck, cutting through a nerve and paralysing him, before striking him with an axe and then smashing his head with a 14lb lump hammer.
That night he toured the nightspots of Mexborough and dropped hints of his horrendous crime, demonstrating again his lust for public recognition.
By 3am on the Saturday he was back in Wath, and had entered the flat of his next door neighbour, Raymond Ford, 45, a depressed teacher who spent his days drinking cheap cider and completing Guardian crosswords.
Earlier that week Arkwright had burgled Mr Ford’s flat, stealing a microwave oven and a clock. He had returned to cover his tracks.
Naked, with a Prince of Darkness devil-mask covering his face, he stabbed his second victim 500 times, plunging his knife deep into every part of Mr Ford’s body. He gutted and disembowled the corpse with a surgical precision which criminologists said was remarkably similar to the technique used by Jack the Ripper.
An experienced police officer later described the violence as: “the most brutal act of slaughter I have ever seen. It is all the more chilling when you realise he must have spent at least half an hour inflicting these terrible wounds.”
Four hours later Arkwright was arrested on suspicion of burglary at Mr Ford’s house, and was kept in custody before being released to appear at court the following weekend.
But at around midnight the next day it was Marcus Law’s turn to suffer.
It later emerged that when police arrested Arkwright as one of a number of suspects in the Law murder investigation, they were alerted to his killings during a bizarre card game.
As Arkwright and officers sat at the interview table, Arkwright picked up a four of hearts card and told police: “This is the master card. It means you have four bodies and a madman on the loose.”
Arkwright eventually admitted killing his grandfather, Mr Ford and Mr Law. A fourth charge of murdering his grandfather’s housekeeper, Elsa Konradite, 72, was ordered to lie on court files after Arkwright had pleaded not guilty.
The killer, who had suffered a deprived and disturbed childhood, was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 25 years.
In mitigation James Chadwin QC, told Sheffield Crown Court that his client was a young man suffering from severe personality damage and disorder. “He has shown signs of disturbance from the time his mother left him at the age of four.”