Sideshow performer and den mother, Jeanie Tomaini, said of
Grady, "People try to put us all into the same bunch, saying 'if
you're a 'freak' you're bitter and angry at life.' Well, you can't
classify us. Some enjoy and love people. Some are resentful and feel
God played them a dirty trick."
- from Franchine Hornberger's terrific book Carny Folk
Freak Show legend Grady "Lobster Boy"Stiles spent his
later years inside a trailer he shared with his wife, Teresa, her son
Glenn, and Glenn's son, Grady III in Carny Heaven, Gibsonton,
In the evening of November 29, 1992 Grady had already
downed two double shots of Seagram's 7,
and was settling into his nightly routine of puffing non-filter lung busters and watching TV
in his underwear. Hot. Teresa and Glenn headed out to visit Grady's daughter,
Cathy, in the trailer next door. Cathy Berry, along with her baby daughter, Misty, had inherited
and sometimes worked the circuit as a Lobster Girl. Theresa and her stepson, little Grady, had been watching
the film "Ruby" on television with Grady, but left
midway through, leaving Grady to finish it while little Grady went to bed. He'd later testify he thought the shots were from the movie ("Ruby"
Aiello as Jack Ruby, Oswald's killer).
Ectrodactyly is a genetic condition where the
fingers and toes are fused together, and the Stiles family was generous with the
affliction. Grady's father (Sr.) used to announce that it had "been in the family since
1840!" a feat he was apparently proud of, and that any of their
offspring "had a fifty-fifty chance of getting it!" Nice. He put Grady, Jr. into the carnival at age
seven, billing themselves as "The Lobster Family." The family settled just outside of
Gibsonton in the wintertime. Not being able to walk, Grady's arms became extremely muscular and he was quick on the claw
(sorry.) He'd swat anyone with them, then back up and head butt them in the
stomach. Sometimes he'd choke them by pinching his claws together. He also
used them for other things. "Everyone I have sex with wants to have sex
with my claws!" he bragged. MMmmm.
Grady was on parole for killing his daughter
Donna's boyfriend back in
Pittsburgh. For a guy with no hands, he was a real piece of work.
He readily admitted to the crime, knowing full well that no prison could or
would take a man with his condition.
The Lobster's Little Slice of Heaven
Back to the night of November 29 - the front door was open
because the Stiles trailer had no air conditioning. Teresa told police that Grady needed the ventilation
for his high blood pressure (whiskey and cigarettes be damned) along with the
fans they continually had running. The killer let himself in. Grady was
sitting with his back to the door. The killer crept up behind him and shot
Grady several times in the back of the head. He died with a smoke in his claw.
Crime Scene photograph (WARNING OOGY PICTURE) here.
(A witness testified on the stand that he heard Grady yell, "Son of a bitch!
Get the fuck out!" before he was shot.)
Pause at :36 seconds in,
then compare. Coinkydink?
One of Grady's "claws"
Blood and brain tissue landed on the counter and dripped
down a carton of Grady's beloved Pall Malls. Great product
There were four shots
in all, three of which killed him and one after he was dead - the killer wasn't taking any chances that Lobster Boy would survive.
"The victim has
no legs," one of the cops noted. Well, not quite true. Grady's legs ended at
the knees where his lobster claws began. The autopsy found all four shots were in a neat row
(WARNING OOGY PICTURE) on
the back of his skull and two were still in his head.
One neighbor told police that
Grady was "a very rude individual." That was putting it mildly.
According to the book, "Carny Folk", his daughter, Cathy, described Grady as
"like Satan himself" and "very cruel, very cold hearted, very
sadistic." Most people who knew him were probably scrambling for an
The cops got wise fast and questioned
Teresa's son, Glenn Newman, Jr.,
aka "The Human Blockhead." (I saw him do his thing at the Brockton Fair in
Massachusetts in the 80s, shoving a nail up his nose. At that time they were
advertising him with "See the horrors of drugs!" so of course I ran right
up.) Much better marketing than "The Human Blockhead."
His father was Glenn Newman, Sr. aka "Midget Man," an overweight
little person who rescued Teresa after she fled Grady the first time. Teresa, it
seemed, had a thing for circus guys. She was a carny herself, first as a
"blade box girl" (those girls in boxes where knives are stuck in at every
angle) then as an "electrified girl."
Now pay attention: Teresa (The
Electrified Girl) married Lobster Boy (a second marriage for both), gave birth
to Donna (the "normal" one, which supposedly made Grady angry/protective so
he beat her more than the other kids, and, oh yeah, killed her boyfriend) and
Cathy (claws). Teresa divorced him because he beat her and the kids, then passed out in
his own puke. She married Midget Man, had the Human Blockhead, divorced Midget Man,
remarried Lobster Boy (who in the meantime had married and fathered Grady Stiles
III - claws) and they all lived unhappily ever after in the trailer park.
Side note: Did you watch the short-lived HBO series Carnivale? Remember the lobster girl episode? That was Cathy. (And Bree Walker - an LA
newscaster who wore fake arms on the air,
and now has now had so much plastic surgery, well, what she did to herself is
far more disturbing than any malformation could ever be.)
Glenn Newman, Jr. started spilling to police almost as soon
as they took him in about how Grady liked to lay in bed at night saying he
should "kill everyone and get it over with". Grady
would wheel down to the local bar and start drinking in the morning, and stay
most of the day. He would return home and sit in front of the TV and
continue to drink himself
into a violent stupor. Teresa had had enough. She and Glenn hired a
seventeen-year-old neighbor, Christopher Wyant, to "make it better for
her." Wyant agreed for $1500. Chris got a pal, Dennis Cowell, to buy a used .32 Colt
Automatic for him.
Wyant entered the house to be greeted by Grady in his usual
manner: "What the fuck are you doing in my house?" Wyant killed him.
When Teresa gave cops her statement, she told them that Grady would beat her and the
children, head butting her until she bled, and that she "didn't
care if he was shot or stabbed - just as long as he was killed." She took full
responsibility for Wyant's actions and claimed the payment was hers, not
Glenn's. She did not want her family implicated, but insisted that she had
called the hit off. Teresa and Glenn were charged with first-degree murder on
November 30, 1992. Christopher Wyant was charged with murder one and conspiracy
to commit murder. All were held without bail and were tried separately. Wyant
went first. In January of 1993, Christopher Wyant was convicted of
second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder and
sentenced to 27 years. Cowell pled guilty of accessory charges and got 3.
Teresa's lawyer tried to persuade the jury of her
innocence due to battered wife syndrome. Several psychiatrists and social workers
testifyied on her behalf. On the stand she told more tales of Grady's abuse,
including smothering her with pillows, holding butcher knives to her throat,
and brutally beating the kids. Cathy testified that he hit her when she was seven months pregnant.
It was tough to sway a jury who didn't understand why Teresa didn't just
leave a wheelchair-bound man with pincers, despite Teresa's defense-tactic, IQ
test results reading in the "low to average" range. They acquitted her of
first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit but after an 11-hour deliberation,
found her guilty of manslaughter. Interestingly, the toxicologist found that
Grady was barely drunk the night he died, despite Teresa's assertion of his
Seagram's consumption-which didn't help her case. In August of 1994, Teresa
Stiles was sentenced to 12 years in prison, telling the court, "My husband
was going to kill my family - I believe that from the bottom of my heart."
Teresa appealed her conviction and was set free in
September, 1994 on $20,000 bail, but in November of 1996, an appellate court
upheld her conviction. She began her sentence in February 1997.
From the look of this IMDB link of "Medical Incredible" from 2005, she may have been released early.
Seen it? Share with the group.
Glenn rejected a plea bargain on his
mother's advice and
was swiftly convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit in August
of 1994. The jury deliberated for only an hour in his case, before sentencing
him to life.
A writer could retire after typing the
"Mrs. Stiles portrayed her husband as a powerful drunken brute who
routinely swatted her with his pincer hands".
Cathy Berry, her husband Tyrill, daughter Misty, and Grady
III still reside in FL. Cathy can be seen in Big Fish in addition to her
appearance in Carnivale.
Grady, however, is forever located in Tampa,
Florida. He was so despised, they couldn't find people willing to be pall
His grave is marked with a simple marker with - interestingly - praying
Mailbox. You know you want
Thank you, Donna Lethal, Ryan Fridley for snaps and
huge thanks, gratitude and applause to Fred Rosen's book Lobster Boy.