four lives

Four Lives: The true story of the real ‘Grindr Killer’ and his victims

The BBC drama premiered last night, but who is the real Grindr Killer?

Trigger Warning: This article contains themes some readers may find disturbing.

BBC One is airing a new drama depicting the murders of four LGBTQ+ men spanning from 2014 to 2015. Four Lives, which stars Stephen Merchant and Sheridan Smith, centres around “Grindr Killer” Stephen Port and the systemic homophobia which led to the police dismissing the murders for so long.

Stephen Port quickly became one of the most prolific serial killers in recent British history, taking the lives of four men between the ages of 21-25. He used queer-friendly dating apps, most notably Grindr, in order to lure each of his victims. He’d often lie significantly about his background on his various profiles. Despite making a living as a chef, he previously told potential victims that he was a SENCO teacher, as well as an Oxford graduate and a former member of the Royal Navy.

After inviting each of these men back to his house under the pretence of hooking up with them, he’d spike their drinks with GHB and sexually assault them before killing them and disposing of their bodies outside.

While each of the victims’ bodies were found in the vicinity of Port’s Essex home, the Met Police failed to link him to the deaths. Suspicious circumstances were completely ruled out for the first three men, despite LGBTQ+ activists and publications insisting that a serial killer was clearly at large within the area. One of the victims’ parents even claimed that the police had tried to blame her son’s death on a “drug overdose”, despite him being incredibly anti-drugs in the past.

But who exactly were Stephen Port’s victims?

Anthony Walgate, 23

anthony four lives

Photo via BBC

Hull-born Anthony was living in London at the time of his murder, studying fashion at uni with a view to becoming a famous designer. Stephen Port met him through a site called Sleepyboys – an escort service for queer-identifying men. Port offered Anthony £800 under the guise of using his services for a night on 17th June 2014.

Anthony never came back, and was found dead just two days later.

Despite being found directly outside Port’s house, the Met Police concluded that Anthony had died from an overdose of drugs or alcohol. Port gave a statement later on, claiming he’d discovered his victim looking worse for wear on his doorstep, and denying they knew each other.

Gabriel Kovari, 22

four lives gabriel

Photo via BBC

Gabriel was originally from Slovakia, moving to London after uni with a dream of becoming a translator for the NHS. Just two months after Anthony was found dead, Gabriel’s body was found in a cemetery, also near Port’s home.

Once again, the police decided the circumstances surrounding Gabriel’s death weren’t suspicious – so a post-mortem was never undertaken. It was later discovered that Gabriel had briefly lived with Port, and his friend had even taken photos of the killer’s home on his phone.

Further police failings came to light after Port was caught – Gabriel’s family weren’t notified of his death, and he was listed as Lithuanian rather than Slovakian.

Daniel Whitworth, 21


Photo via BBC

Daniel was just 21 when he was murdered by Port. He was working as a chef at the time, and lived with his boyfriend in Gravesend, Kent.

Port murdered Daniel one month after Gabriel, after spiking his drink with GHB. He disposed of his body in a church yard, planting a fake suicide note on him which “confessed” to the “accidental” killing of Gabriel. The letter went on to say that Daniel had apparently given Gabriel a fatal overdose of GHB before going on to end his own life.

The police refused to let Daniel’s partner see the note, and he later went on to accuse them of homophobia.

Jack Taylor, 25

jack taylor bbc

Photo via BBC

Jack was murdered by Port in the same month as 21-year-old Daniel. He was living in Dagenham at the time, and worked as a forklift driver.

His sisters, Donna and Jenny, decided to take the matter into their own hands when the police failed to investigate the previous three murders. Both women said they felt “dismissed” by the Met when they tried to flag up the connections between the deaths, and the inquest into Jack’s death found a severe communication breakdown between the police and his family.

When was Port convicted?

The serial killer was eventually investigated by the Met in 2015, and was initially charged with four counts of murder and four of administering a poison. This was later increased to six more counts of administering a poison, seven charges of rape and four of sexual assault. Port went on record to deny all charges.

In 2016, he was found guilty of all four murders, as well as the spiking and sexual assaults of seven more men. He was sentenced to serve a whole life tariff in prison.

Four Lives is available to stream on BBC iPlayer now.

Featured image via BBC. 

Related stories recommended by this writer: