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Grady Franklin Stiles, Jr. (June 26, 1937 - November 29, 1992) was a freak show performer. His deformity was ectrodactyly, where the fingers and toes are fused together to form claw-like extremities. Stiles' stage name was the Lobster Boy.

Contents

Family history

The Stiles family had a long history of ectrodactyly. Stiles was the sixth in a line that began with the birth of William Stiles in 1805. Grady Stiles' father was a sideshow attraction in a traveling carnival when his son was born and added him to the act at a young age. [1] Stiles married twice and had four children, two of whom also had ectrodactyly. Stiles and his two children toured together as The Lobster Family. When not traveling with the carnival the Stiles family lived in Gibsonton, Florida where many other carnival performers lived during the winter season.

Murder

Stiles was an alcoholic and was abusive to his family.[1] Due to his ectrodactyly, he was unable to walk. While he often used a wheelchair, he most commonly used his hands and arms for locomotion. He developed incredible upper body strength that, when combined with his temper and alcoholism, made him dangerous to others.

In 1978, Stiles shot and killed his oldest daughter's fiance on the eve of their wedding. He was brought to trial where he openly confessed to killing the man and was convicted of murder. He was not sent to prison as no state institution was equipped to care for an inmate with ectrodactyly. Stiles was instead sentenced to fifteen years probation.

Stiles stopped drinking thereafter, and during this period remarried his first wife, Maria. However, he soon began drinking again and his family claimed that he became even more abusive. In 1992 Maria and her son hired a sideshow performer named Chris Wyant to kill Stiles. Wyant shot him three times in the head on November 29, 1992, killing him instantly. All three were brought to trial and convicted. In her defense, Maria Stiles told the judge, "My husband was going to kill my family. I believe that from the bottom of my heart. I’m sorry this happened, but my family is safe now."

Media

Fred Rosen wrote a book on the case called Lobster Boy: The Bizarre Life and Brutal Death of Grady Stiles Jr., and E! made a True Hollywood Stories episode based on the case titled The Murder of Lobster Boy. A&E Network also made a City Confidential episode based on the case called Gibsonton: The Last Side Show.

He is also on the cover of Silverchair's Freak Show.

References

External links

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