There have been claims that a serial killer has been active in Manchester dating back to the late 2000s. They center on the idea that there have been an unusually high number of drownings of (predominantly) young males in the city's canals, some involving disputed or difficult to explain circumstances Source Source Source Source
The cases were first publicly linked following a Freedom of Information request which found there had been 61 bodies discovered in canals between February 2008 and January 2015.
These claims have been reported on by a number of news organizations, including the BBC. The person, or persons, who may be responsible have been dubbed "the Pusher".
Rumours of a serial killer stalking Manchester's canals have spread around the world, despite repeated denials from those in law enforcement. So what is the truth behind the story of 'The Pusher'?
Representatives of the Manchester police have confirmed that there have been multiple deaths by drowning in the city's canals, but have publicly stated that there is no evidence of the cases being connected beyond the fact that the occurred in a similar geographic area and involve drownings. Source Source Source Source Source
The basis for this statement is the official position that most of the cases can be better explained through other reasons: Including misadventure and suicide, with alcohol consumption being the a leading factor in many. Source
The police and the council have examined every case in the city centre over the last 10 years and have found no link or connection between the fatalities. Most of the tragedies are through accidents caused by alcohol
Thomas Sheridan, an author who has written and lectured on the subject of psychopathy, Source Source, claims that a disproportionate number of drowning deaths have occurred around an area known as the gay village, Source, and that they follow a pattern that indicates that a serial killer with an intimate knowledge of the area - allowing him to move freely without attracting suspicion to himself - Source is targeting male members of the LGBTQIA+ community - or those that they believe to be male members of the LGBTQIA+ community and drowning them in the city's canals.
"I believe the killer is targeting gay men or men the killer is assuming to be gay - following them from a night out or more worryingly, picking them up in bars. Source
Sheridan has stated the belief that the use of drowning as a means of death is symbolic in nature Source, and that the police are downplaying the possibility of a serial killer in order to avoid the killer escalating their activities.
"If acknowledged, it can start an effect where the serial killer sees it as a challenge to try to out-fox the police.
Have Sheridan's claim be been disputed or affirmed in any credible sources?