Police in London are probing whether at least 58 deaths – once deemed accidental – are tied to a convicted serial killer who was found guilty this of fatally drugging four men and attacking seven others, according to multiple reports in the British press.
Stephen Port, 41, was found guilty on Wednesday of 22 offenses against 11 men including four murders, four rapes, four sex assaults, six counts of administering a substance and four counts of assault by penetration, Metropolitan Police confirmed.
Port, who was found not guilty of three counts of rape, has denied all charges against him but was convicted of the murders of Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25 – all of whom fatally overdosed on the date-rape drug GHB and other substances. He will be sentenced on Friday.
Between June 2011 and October 2015, Port lured his victims using online dating sites, such as Grindr, to invite them to his Barking, east London home where he injected them with drugs or spiked their beverages with fatal amounts of “poppers,” Viagra, sleeping pills, crystal meth and/or GHB, the police say. According to multiple coroners reports, Port then dragged the dead bodies into the street and left them in public not far from where he lived.
“It is not known if these deaths were related to chemsex activities. In many cases police involvement was limited, with the matter dealt with by the coroner,” a police spokesman told CNN. “A review of these deaths is now underway to establish any suspicious circumstances.”
Though it remains unknown if Port was connected, the Metropolitan Police informed CNN, The Telegraph and BBC that they had identified at least 58 deaths from GHB poisoning during the three-and-a-half-year period he carried out the offenses for which he was convicted.
GHB was found in the bodies of Walgate, Kovari, Whitworth and Taylor. In three of the four cases, drugs were planted on or near the bodies to make it seem they had overdosed, according to the police. Shockingly after the third murder, police identified the deaths as “unusual” but “not suspicious.”
“The first police public appeal for information was not made until October 2015, after the fourth murder and after Port had been charged,” reported The Guardian.
Many are accusing the police of botching these cases and not convicting Port sooner to have possibly saved more lives. A total of 17 officers are under investigation at this time: Seven for gross misconduct over their handling of cases, and 10 have been accused of misconduct, the Guardian reports.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission released a statement Wednesday announcing their investigation into “how officers responded to the four deaths before the homicide investigation was launched, including the nature of the investigative work undertaken, how evidence was examined and how similarities between the cases were considered.”