Lobster Boy: From Circus Freak to Cold-Blooded Killer

Grady Franklin Stiles, Jr., AKA “Lobster Boy,” was born on July 18, 1937, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Lobster Boy descended from a very notorious carny family, and was one of the 20th century’s most infamous freak show attractions.

He was born with ectrodactyly, a congenital disorder that causes a person’s hands and feet to resemble claw-like appendages.

During the 1930’s, his father was already a popular attraction at traveling sideshows. By the time Grady was seven, he was put to work — people would pay five cents to gawk at him while he sat in a chair and smiled. He lived this way for nearly half a century.


“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, I am the Lobster Boy,” he would say. “This condition is not caused by drugs or diseases. It runs in the family.”

Lobster Boy was unable to walk and was forced to use a wheelchair while out in public. However, he was able to crawl around on his powerful arms, and could do just about any task using his “claws.”

Later in life, he married another carnival performer named Mary Teresa Herzog. But life wasn’t without its woes.

Grady not only had an incredibly bizarre life, he was also notoriously abusive to people, including his own children. He was known to smack or choke people with his pincerlike hands. People in his community absolutely hated him

And that’s not even the worst part. He also was a murderer, and went on to suffer a brutal death.

In 1979, he was convicted of third-degree murder for shooting and killing her daughter’s fiance, one day before their wedding, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Despite his crime, he received a “sympathy verdict” and was only sentenced to 15 years of probation. Authorities determined that he had cirrhosis of the liver from his heavy-drinking habits and emphysema from smoking nearly three packs of cigarettes a day.

His own death came in November 1992, after his wife paid a hit man $1,500 to have him killed. Their neighbor Christopher Wyant fired two .32-caliber bullets into the 55-year-old’s head while he was watching television in his Gibsonton, Florida, trailer home.

As you can imagine, his murder led to one of the most bizarre criminal trials in history.

According to the Los Angeles Times, in court it was revealed that Mary Teresa, and her son from a previous marriage, Harry Glenn Newman, III, conspired together to have him shot.

Newman was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. His mother was sentenced to 12 years for manslaughter. As for the killer? Wyant was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 27 years.

Lobster Boy was buried in a showman’s cemetery, but because everyone despised him, no one was willing to be his pallbearer.