The loner: Online persona disguised shyness with disturbing obsessions

HIS neighbours called him "Lizard Man", the introverted, unmarried loner and perpetual student who kept reptiles as pets and wore a dark overcoat and sunglasses whatever the weather.

More reports and background on Stephen Griffiths

However, Stephen Griffiths presented a very different image of himself on the internet – belying his apparent shyness by creating a disturbing alter ego on social networking websites to indulge his fascination with serial killers and Nazis.

Using the pseudonym "Ven Pariah", Griffiths updated pages on the Myspace website and regularly posted on online forums, describing himself as "the misanthrope who brought hate into Heaven".

In a separate posting, he wrote: "Humanity is not merely a biological condition. It is also a state of mind. On that basis I am a pseudo-human at best. A demon at worst."

West Yorkshire Police moved to close his Myspace profile after his arrest, but he left on the web a trail of photographs and messages that revealed his dark imagination.

Griffiths, who last accessed his pages on April 23, listed his mood as "evil", gave himself the age of 99, and alluded to a Bible passage from the book of Ezekiel: "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides".

The quotation entered popular culture in the 1990s when it featured in an execution scene in the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction.

Griffiths mainly used two photographs of himself – one a black and white image showing his hair slicked back; the other a picture of him posing topless, staring intently into a mirror.

Other postings revealed disturbing obsessions. Among the pictures was an image of Reinhard Heydrich, the high-ranking Nazi official named the "Butcher of Prague" by historians, who was assassinated by British-trained Czech agents in 1942.

In a message of thanks to a woman who had contacted him, Griffiths wrote: "Thank you for that, Jacqueline, the thought and the sentiment are both truly appreciated. Hope you have a nice day as well – lots of them, in fact. Glad you could see past the scary image I generally project to the world in general. Thought I'd add a picture of a stylish young 19-year-old to your page – poor thing, she never made it to 20."

The "stylish young 19-year-old" in the picture was Bonnie Parker of Bonnie and Clyde, the legendary gangster duo whose murderous bank-robbing campaign across Depression-hit America ended in a hail of bullets in 1934.

Griffiths's pages featured more than 50 notorious criminals including Moors Murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, and other serial killers such as Fred West, Donald Nilsen and Ted Bundy.

He also posted details online about the last serial killer to stalk the streets of Bradford, looking for women to murder – the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.

Harrowing accounts of mass murders feature heavily in a list of 25 books and DVDs which Griffiths intended to buy. Items that he posted on the online shopping website Amazon, included two eight-DVD box sets, called Notorious Killers and Serial Killers.

Among other DVD titles listed were Britain's Bloodiest Serial Killers, Mass Murderers, and Ravenous, a horror film about cannibalism.

Griffiths, who at the time of his arrest was studying for a PhD thesis about homicides in Bradford, also wished to buy a book called The International Murderers' Who's Who, as well as academic texts about killings in Britain, Germany, the US and Latin America.

Griffiths used the internet to watch music videos and was a member of several punk messageboards and groups calling for independence for Yorkshire.

He joined the Guardian newspaper's dating website Soulmates for a month from December 27, 2008. He contacted one person and tried to contact another.

Using the name Ven1066, his profile said he was a 38-year-old postgraduate looking for a woman between 28 and 39 who was "serious and disciplined" but "not afraid to let her hair down".

It read: "Physically, I take care of my body and face, especially the latter, which refuses to look any older than a 25-year-old's (maybe I have a 'Dorian Gray' portrait hidden away). My occupation involves homicide research which demands a lot of discipline and emotional detachment. Hardly laugh a minute work either. Hence it's important for me to relax/unwind at other times... Although I'm an extremely tough, assertive individual, I'm not the overbearing type."