Grady Stiles Jr. had been born into a family with a inherited condition called electrodactyly; a prominent feature of the condition is the resemblance of lobster claws, and Grady also had what has been described as “flipper legs”. Grady’s father had been a side show “freak” with the carnival, and at the young age of just 7 Grady himself had been placed on stage. He became known far and wide as the Lobster Boy, and later as the Lobster Man; Grady would continue his work as a circus freak for nearly half a century.
Grady had grown up in the terribly abusive spotlight, he’d been paid a good deal of money to let people gawk at him every day. Grady had always been acutely aware of his physical differences, and at a young age he’d been determined to become just as capable as any other man. He grew to possess this tremendous upper body strength, and an unbelievable vice-like grip in his hands. He could easily maneuver around without his wheel chair, and even without fingers he became an ace with a shotgun. Y’all already know I have an affinity for circus “freaks”, their stories are often so inspirational, they give us hope; I truly wish this was another story of overcoming obstacles – but that’s not Grady. The only thing admirable about Grady was his determination – the man had sorely lacked all compassion; there’s no two ways about it, Grady Stiles had simply been a despicable human being.
As a young man Grady took his first wife, Mary Teresa had not been a performer but she’d travelled with the circus; together this pair had a couple of kids. The first born daughter, Donna, was not born with the family condition, but the younger daughter was. When Cathy turned 5, she was forced to perform just as her father had been. You could say that this was abusive in and of itself, but Grady was an absolutely miserable human being and his family was put through hell.
Grady was a sadistic alcoholic who thoroughly enjoyed physically and emotionally torturing everyone he encountered, but especially those closest to him. He not only used his wife as his very own personal punching bag, but at one point the children were forced to watch as daddy fed their beloved pet bunny to a snake! There’s one ghastly incident in which Grady used his claws to rip Mary Teresa’s birth control device, an IUD, out of her vagina! Police had been called to the Stiles home countless times, but Grady would simply crawl up in his wheelchair and pretend to be helpless whenever the law would show up. The officers never would do anything to help the defenseless family.
When Grady decided to divorce his wife, he did not inform her of his plans. He showed up for the divorce proceedings but Mary Teresa did not – it’s impossible to be present for something you know nothing about! Grady told the judge a bunch of lies about his wife, Mary Teresa was deemed unfit, and the monster was granted sole custody of the children. The kids all swore that they’d had a fantastic mother, but it didn’t matter; Grady had manipulated the system into getting his way once again.
After he’d ripped those babies from their mama’s arms, Grady promptly moved from their home in Florida to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here he met a woman named Barbara, and they had another child named Grady the 3rd who was also born with the family trait. The abuse, and the drinking, continued; Barbara had been beaten often, as a matter of fact it’s been said that every day the poor woman was seen with a brand new bruise. But as many can attest, often the psychological abuse is just as damaging as the physical – many survivors say that it is worse. Just for kicks Grady was known to flush his wife’s rings down the toilet then sit back and cackle with laughter as Barbara frantically sorted through the waste within the septic tank to find her precious jewelry. And it’s not like this only happened once, it has been a regular occurrence; neighbors would later recall that everyone in the area knew whenever they’d catch a whiff of raw sewage coming from the Stiles home that Barbara must be fishing for her rings again. I mean, talk about a bastard, right?
In 1978 Grady’s oldest daughter, Donna, had understandably been desperate to remove herself from her father’s home. When she was 15, Donna met an 18 year old boy by the name of Jack Lane (some articles spell the name as Layne) and the couple had fallen desperately in love. The young man proposed, and Donna told her father that she had been in the family way and wanted to marry her sweetheart. Grady had been very upset over the wedding, he absolutely wouldn’t have it! When Donna had threatend to simply shack up with her love instead, Grady begrudgingly agreed to the union.
Two days before the wedding, a witness claimed that Grady had pulled a gun on Jack and stated that he would shoot the man before he’d allow him to marry Donna. On September 27th of 1978, the day right before the wedding, Donna and her stepmother had been out tying up loose ends before the wedding. When the ladies returned, Grady said something along the lines of “I guess you got (Donna) now”, Jack retorted, “I told you I’d get her”. It was at this time that Grady pulled out a gun and shot the young man in the back multiple times; Jack passed away in Donna’s arms.
The Stiles family later said that they do not believe Grady ever had any intention of allowing Donna to wed. The man had been a such an overbearing control freak, and allowing his daughter to marry would’ve meant relinquishing some of that control. He’d often joked about killing his daughter’s fiancé, once the man had taken Donna to a pawn shop to purchase a revolver; Grady had stated that he was going to shoot Jack with that revolver – and that is exactly what he did! Ultimately Grady was tried with 3rd degree murder and found guilty; once again he played upon his disabilities, and the state decided that they weren’t equipped to care for a man with his medical condition. Grady was given probation – he was told to leave the state and never return.
Soon after this, Grady left his 2nd wife. He cut back on the drinking and convinced his first wife, Teresa, that he had changed; Teresa agreed to remarry him. We all know that a tiger doesn’t usually change his stripes; after he’d secured his first wife, Grady went right back to his old ways. But now he was worse – there’s nothing in this whole world more dangerous than a person who has legally gotten away with killing in cold blood. Grady was known to say, “I got away with murder once, I’ll do it again.”. It is said that Grady would often place his lobster hands around his wife’s neck and just squeeze, and there are accounts of knives being pulled. More craziness than you could shake a stick at!
So in November of 1992, while in Gibsonton, Florida, Teresa was attacked for the very last time; Grady had thrown his wife to the floor and attempted to strangle her to death. Thankfully young Grady the third heard the commotion and he was able to pull his father off of his wife. It was at this moment that Teresa decided that she wouldn’t take it anymore. She was done – there would be no more drunken beatings, she’d not continue to live in terror, nor would her children! She and Harry, her son from her second marriage, paid a 17 year old sideshow star named Chris $1,500 to attack Grady.
On November 29th of 1992 Teresa left Grady alone in their home for a few moments to go speak with someone. At this time Chris shot the 55 year old man more than once in the back of the head as the “Lobster Man” sat watching television wearing nothing but his underwear.
It did not take long for police to solve this little mystery; Chris, Teresa, and her son Harry were all tried for Grady’s murder. Teresa admitted to what she’d done, she told the judge she’d had no doubt whatsoever that Grady was going to kill her and the children. It was self defense, and most who had known the family agreed that the murder was justified! Still, Judge William Fuente didn’t quite see it that way.
Though Grady’s own children testified of the sadistic abuse they’d been subjected to all of their lives, it was still deemed that Teresa had not been in danger at the moment in which Grady had met his demise. Chris Wyant was found guilty of 2nd degree murder and sentenced to 27 years. Harry Glen Newman was charged with first degree murder and given a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years. As far as Mary Teresa, it does appear that the court went easy on the 56 year old Mother; she was sentenced to serve 12 years for manslaughter but released as her sentence was appealed. She did serve 12 years in prison and was released in the year 2000, Chris was freed in 2009, and Larry finally in 2014.
Grady the third was interviewed a few years back; he not only openly admits to disliking his father, but stated that the man had been an abusive racist. The middle child, Cathy, has described her father as “Satan himself”.
* I did find one article in which a few of the circus “freaks” stuck up for Grady. They said that while he had possessed one hell of a temper, Teresa had legs and could’ve walked away. That said, carnival workers are known to be a very close knit lot and that has always been especially true for the so-called freaks (good lord I hate calling them that, but that is what they were known as). It’s not surprising that a few stuck up for Grady, even if he had been “satan himself”. Other articles I found stated Grady had been so intensely hated that not a single person would agree to be the man’s pall bearer!