Peter William SUTCLIFFE
A.K.A.: "The Yorkshire Ripper"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Heard voices from God commanding him to kill prostitutes
Number of victims: 13
Date of murders: 1975 - 1980
Date of arrest: January 2, 1981
Date of birth: June 2, 1946
Victims profile: Wilma McCann, 28 / Emily Jackson, 42 / Irene Richardson, 28 / Patricia Atkinson, 32 / Jayne MacDonald, 16 / Jean Jordan, 20 / Yvonne Pearson, 21 / Helen Rytka, 18 / Vera Millward, 40 / Josephine Whitaker, 19 / Barbara Leach, 20 / Marguerite Walls, 47 / Jacqueline Hill, 20
Method of murder: Hitting with a hammer / Stabbing with knife
Location: West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to 20 sentences of life imprisonment on May 22, 1981. A High Court ruling rejected an appeal in 2010, confirming that he would serve a whole life tariff and would never be released from imprisonment
Peter William Sutcliffe (born 2 June 1946) is an English serial killer who was dubbed "The Yorkshire Ripper". In 1981 Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering 13 women and attacking seven others. He is currently serving 20 sentences of life imprisonment in Broadmoor Hospital. After his conviction, Sutcliffe began using his mother's maiden name and became known as Peter William Coonan. A High Court ruling rejected an appeal in 2010, confirming that he would serve a whole life tariff and would never be released from imprisonment.
Sutcliffe was born in Bingley, to a working-class Catholic family in West Riding of Yorkshire, a son of John Sutcliffe (11 December 1922 - June 2004) and Kathleen Frances Sutcliffe (née Coonan, 22 January 1919 - 1978). Reportedly a loner at school, he left at the age of 15 and took a series of menial jobs, including two stints as a gravedigger during the 1960s. Between November 1971 and April 1973 Sutcliffe worked at the factory of Baird Television Ltd, on the packaging line. He left when he was asked to go on the road as a salesman.
After leaving Baird, he worked nightshifts at the Britannia Works of Anderton International from April 1973. In February 1975 he took redundancy, used the pay-off to gain an HGV licence on 4 June 1975 and began working as a driver for a tyre firm on 29 September of that year. On 5 March 1976 he was dismissed for the theft of used tyres. He was unemployed until October 1976, when he found another job as an HGV driver for T & WH Clark (Holdings Ltd.) on the Canal Road Industrial Estate in Bradford. Sutcliffe frequently used prostitutes as a young man and it has been speculated that a bad experience with one during which he was believed to have been conned out of money, helped fuel his violent hatred of women.
He first met Sonia Szurma (who was of Czech and Ukrainian parentage) on 14 February 1967; they married on 10 August 1974. His wife suffered several miscarriages over the following few years and the couple were subsequently informed that she would not be able to have children. Shortly after this, she resumed a teacher training course. When she completed the course in 1977 and began teaching, the couple used the salary from her job to buy their first house in Heaton, Bradford, where they moved on 26 September 1977, and where they were still living at the time of Sutcliffe's arrest.
Sutcliffe was convicted for murdering the following 13 victims:
30 October 1975
20 January 1976
5 February 1977
23 April 1977
26 June 1977
1 October 1977
21 January 1978
31 January 1978
16 May 1978
4 April 1979
2 September 1979
20 August 1980
17 November 1980
Sutcliffe committed his first assault on an older prostitute whom he had met whilst searching for the woman who had previously tricked him out of money. He had left his friend's mini-van and walked up Pauls Road, Bradford, until he was out of sight. When he came back, he was out of breath, as if he had been running. He told long-term friend of his, Trevor Birdsall, who was the driver of the vehicle that he was in, to drive off quickly. Sutcliffe said that he had followed a prostitute into a garage and hit her over the head with a stone in a sock. According to his statement, Sutcliffe stated, "I got out of the car, went across the road and hit her. The force of the impact tore the toe off the sock and whatever was in it came out. I went back to the car and got in it".
When the police visited his home the next day, they informed him that the woman, who bore no resemblance to the prostitute who had tricked him out of £10, had noted down Birdsall's mini-van vehicle registration plate. Sutcliffe admitted that he had hit her over the head, but claimed that it was only with his hand. The police told him he was "very lucky" as the prostitute didn't want anything more to do with the incident - she was a known prostitute and her common-law husband was serving a sentence for an assault.
Sutcliffe committed his second assault on the night of 5 July 1975 in Keighley. He attacked Anna Rogulskyj, who was walking alone, striking her unconscious with a ball-peen hammer and slashing her stomach with a knife. Disturbed by a neighbour, he left without killing her. Rogulskyj survived after extensive medical intervention but was emotionally traumatised by this attack.
Sutcliffe attacked Olive Smelt in Halifax in August. Employing the same modus operandi he struck her from behind and used a knife to slash her, though this time above her buttocks. Again he was interrupted, and left his victim badly injured but still alive. Like Rogulskyj, Smelt suffered emotional scars from the attack, including clinical depression. On 27 August, Sutcliffe attacked 14 year old Tracy Browne in Silsden. He struck her from behind and hit her on the head five times while she was walking in a country lane. Sutcliffe was not convicted of this attack, but confessed to it in 1992.
The first victim to lose her life was Wilma McCann, on 30 October. McCann was a mother of four from the Chapeltown district of Leeds. Sutcliffe struck her twice with a hammer before stabbing her 15 times in the neck, chest and abdomen. Traces of semen were found on the back of her underwear. An extensive inquiry, involving 150 police officers and 11,000 interviews, failed to uncover the culprit. One of McCann's daughters committed suicide in December 2007, reportedly after suffering years of torment over her mother's death.
Sutcliffe committed his next murder in January 1976, when he stabbed Emily Jackson 51 times in Leeds. In dire financial straits, Jackson had been using the family van to exchange sexual favours for money, a fact which shocked family and neighbours when it was revealed after the murder. Sutcliffe hit her on the head with a hammer and then used a sharpened screwdriver to stab her in the neck, chest, and abdomen. Sutcliffe also stamped on her thigh, leaving behind an impression of his boot.
Sutcliffe attacked Marcella Claxton in Roundhay Park, Leeds, on 9 May. Walking home from a party, she was given a lift by Sutcliffe. When she later got out of the car to urinate, Sutcliffe hit her from behind with a hammer. She was left alive and was able to testify against Sutcliffe at his trial.
Sutcliffe's next murder took place in February 1977. He attacked Irene Richardson (aged 28), another Chapeltown prostitute, in Roundhay Park, killing her with a series of weighty hammer blows, followed by a post-mortem stabbing. Tyre tracks left near the murder scene resulted in an enormous list of possible suspect vehicles.
Two months later he killed Patricia "Tina" Atkinson (aged 32), a Bradford prostitute, at her flat, where police found a bootprint on the bedclothes. After another two months, Sutcliffe committed another vicious murder in Chapeltown; his victim, Jayne MacDonald (aged 16) was not a prostitute, and in the public perception, her death showed that every woman was a potential victim. Sutcliffe seriously assaulted Maureen Long (aged 42) in Bradford in July; interrupted, he left her for dead. A witness misidentified the make of his car; over 300 police officers working the case amassed 12,500 statements and checked thousands of cars, without result.
Sutcliffe killed a Manchester prostitute, Jean Jordan (aged 20) in October. Her body was not found for ten days, but had obviously been moved several days after death. The recovery of her handbag offered a valuable piece of evidence. Sutcliffe had given the woman £5. The note was new and was traced to banks in Shipley and Bingley and from there to the wages of 8,000 local employees.
Over three months, the police interviewed 5,000 men, including Sutcliffe, but did not connect him to the crime. Sutcliffe had known the note could expose him: he had returned to the body a week after the killing, and, unable to find the handbag, had tried to remove Jordan's head with a broken pane of glass and a hacksaw. Chillingly, he did this after hosting a family party at his home. Jordan's body was discovered by Bruce Jones, who later went on to play the part of Les Battersby in the long-running TV soap opera Coronation Street.
Sutcliffe attacked another Leeds prostitute, Marilyn Moore (aged 25) in December. She survived, and provided police with a description of her attacker. Tyre tracks found at the scene matched those from an earlier attack.
Despite this, the police withdrew their intensive search for the person who received the £5 in January 1978. Sutcliffe was interviewed about the £5 note, but not investigated further; he would ultimately be contacted, and disregarded, by the Ripper Squad many more times. In that month Sutcliffe killed again, attacking a Bradford prostitute, Yvonne Pearson (aged 21), this time hiding the body under a discarded sofa so that it was not found until March. He killed a Huddersfield prostitute, Helen Rytka (aged 18), in late January; her body was uncovered three days later.
After a two-month hiatus Sutcliffe killed again, attacking Vera Millward (aged 40) in the car park of the Manchester Royal Infirmary on 16 May.
Almost a year passed before he struck again; during this time his mother died.
On 4 April 1979, he killed Josephine Whitaker (aged 19), a bank clerk, in Halifax; he assaulted her on the town moor as she was walking home. Despite new forensic clues, the police efforts were diverted for several months into a fruitless search for a man with a Wearside accent, which was pinned down to the Castletown area of Sunderland, following a hoax tape message taunting Superintendent George Oldfield, who was leading the search. The same hoaxer had sent two letters to the police boasting of his crimes in 1978 signed "Jack The Ripper" and claimed a murder (that of 26-year-old Joan Harrison) in Preston in November 1975.
On 20 October, 2005, John Humble, an unemployed alcoholic and long-time resident of the Ford Estate area of Sunderland (a mile away from Castletown), was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice in response to the sending of the hoax letters and tape, and remanded in custody. On March 21, 2006 he was sentenced to eight years in prison for perverting the course of justice. It is expected that he will also be questioned in connection with the Harrison murder.
Sutcliffe killed Barbara Leach (aged 20), a Bradford student, in September, his sixteenth attack. Yet again the murder of a woman who was not a prostitute alarmed the public and prompted an expensive publicity campaign, which unfortunately pushed the Wearside connection. Even with this false lead, Sutcliffe was re-interviewed on at least two occasions in 1979, but despite matching several forensic clues and being on the list of just 300 names in connection with the £5 note, he was not strongly suspected. In total, Sutcliffe was interviewed by the police on nine occasions.
In April 1980 he was arrested for drunken driving. While awaiting trial on this charge he killed two more women, Marguerite Walls (aged 47) in August and Jacqueline Hill (aged 20) in November 1980. He also attacked two other women who survived – Upadhya Bandara (aged 34) in Leeds and Theresa Sykes (aged 16) in Huddersfield. Following the November murder, one of Sutcliffe's friends reported him to the police as a suspect; this information vanished into the enormous volumes already created.
Arrest and trial
On 2 January 1981, Sutcliffe was stopped by the police with 24-year-old prostitute Olivia Reivers in the driveway of Light Trades House, Melbourne Avenue, Broomhill, Sheffield, in South Yorkshire. A police check revealed the car was fitted with false number plates and Sutcliffe was arrested for this offence and transferred to Dewsbury Police Station, West Yorkshire. At Dewsbury he was questioned in relation to the Yorkshire Ripper case as he matched so many of the physical characteristics known. The next day police returned to the scene of the arrest and discovered a knife, hammer and rope he had discarded when he briefly slipped away from the police after telling them he was "bursting for a pee". Sutcliffe had hidden a second knife in the toilet cistern at the police station when he was permitted to use the toilet. The police obtained a search warrant for his home at 6 Garden Lane in the Heaton district of Bradford and brought his wife in for questioning.
When Sutcliffe was stripped of his clothing at the police station he was wearing a V-neck sweater under his trousers. The sleeves had been pulled over his legs and the V-neck exposed his genital area. The front of the elbows were padded to protect his knees as, presumably, he knelt over his victims' corpses. The sexual implications of this outfit were held to be obvious, but it was not communicated to the public until the 2003 book, Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, written by Michael Bilton. After two days of intensive questioning, on the afternoon of 4 January 1981 Sutcliffe suddenly declared he was the Ripper. Over the next day, Sutcliffe calmly described his many attacks. Weeks later he claimed God had told him to murder the women. He displayed emotion only when telling of the murder of his youngest victim, Jayne MacDonald, and when he was questioned about the murder of Joan Harrison, which he vehemently denied. He was charged at Dewsbury on 5 January.
At his trial, Sutcliffe pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of murder, but guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The basis of this defence was his claim that he was the tool of God's will. Sutcliffe first claimed to have heard voices while working as a gravedigger, that ultimately ordered him to kill prostitutes. He claimed that the voices originated from a headstone of a deceased Polish man, Bronisław Zapolski, and that the voices were that of God.
He also pleaded guilty to seven counts of attempted murder. The prosecution intended to accept Sutcliffe's plea after four psychiatrists diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. However, the trial judge, Mr Justice Boreham, demanded an unusually detailed explanation of the prosecution reasoning. After a two-hour representation by the Attorney-General Sir Michael Havers, a 90-minute lunch break and a further 40 minutes of legal discussion, he rejected the diminished responsibility plea and the expert testimonies of the four psychiatrists, insisting that the case should be dealt with by a jury. The trial proper was set to commence on 5 May 1981.
The trial lasted two weeks and despite the efforts of his counsel James Chadwin QC, Sutcliffe was found guilty of murder on all counts and sentenced to life imprisonment. The trial judge said that Sutcliffe was beyond redemption, and that he hoped that he would never leave prison. He recommended a minimum term of 30 years to be served before parole is considered. This recommendation meant that Sutcliffe was unlikely to be freed until at least 2011, at the age of 65. On 16 July 2010 this sentence was extended to a full life term, meaning that Sutcliffe will not leave prison alive, barring any judicial developments to the contrary.
After his trial, Sutcliffe admitted two further attacks to detectives. It was decided at the time that prosecution for these offences was "not in the public interest". West Yorkshire Police have made it clear that the female victims wish to remain anonymous.
Prison and Broadmoor Hospital
After his conviction, Sutcliffe decided to go by the name Peter Coonan, which was his late mother's maiden name. Sutcliffe began his sentence at HMP Parkhurst on 22 May 1981. Despite being found sane at his trial, he was soon diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia. Attempts to send him to a secure psychiatric unit though were initially blocked. During his time at Parkhurst he was seriously assaulted for the first time. The attack was carried out by James Costello, a 35-year-old career criminal from Glasgow with several convictions for violence. On 10 January 1983, he followed Sutcliffe into the recess of F2, the hospital wing at Parkhurst Prison. He plunged a broken coffee jar twice into the left side of Sutcliffe's face, creating four separate wounds requiring a total of 30 stitches. In March 1984 Sutcliffe was finally sent to Broadmoor Hospital, under section 47 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
His wife Sonia obtained a separation from him in 1982 and a divorce in April 1994. On 23 February 1996, Sutcliffe was attacked in his private room in the Henley Ward of Broadmoor Hospital. Paul Wilson, a convicted robber, asked to borrow a videotape before attempting to strangle him with the cable from a pair of stereo headphones. Two other convicted murderers, Kenneth Erskine (the "Stockwell Strangler") and Jamie Devitt, intervened upon hearing Sutcliffe's screams.
After an attack by fellow inmate Ian Kay on 10 March 1997 with a pen, Sutcliffe lost vision in his left eye, and his right eye was severely damaged. Kay admitted he had tried to kill Sutcliffe, and was ordered to be detained in a secure mental hospital without time limit.
In 2003, reports surfaced that Sutcliffe had developed diabetes.
Sutcliffe's father died in 2004 and was cremated. On 17 January 2005 Sutcliffe was allowed to visit Grange over Sands where the ashes had been scattered. The decision to allow the temporary release was initiated by David Blunkett and later ratified by Charles Clarke when he took over the role of Home Secretary. Sutcliffe was accompanied by four members of the hospital staff. Despite the passage of 25 years since the Ripper murders, Sutcliffe's visit was still the focus of front-page tabloid headlines.
On 22 December 2007, Sutcliffe was attacked again. Fellow inmate Patrick Sureda lunged at him with a metal cutlery knife. Sutcliffe flung himself backwards and the blade missed his right eye, instead stabbing him in the cheek.
On 17 February 2009, it was reported that Sutcliffe was "fit to leave Broadmoor". If the Ministry of Justice agrees with the doctors' verdict, he will be sent to a medium-secure unit where he could be allowed out on short release for rehabilitation. On 23 March 2010, the Secretary of State for Justice, then Jack Straw, was questioned by Julie Kirkbride, Conservative MP for Bromsgrove, in the House of Commons. Kirkbride was seeking reassurance for one of her constituents, a victim of Sutcliffe, that he would remain in prison. Straw responded, stating that whilst the matter of Sutcliffe's release was a parole board matter, "that all the evidence that I have seen on this case, and it's a great deal, suggests to me that there are no circumstances in which this man will be released."
2010 appeal and High Court decision
An application by Sutcliffe for a minimum term to be set (offering the possibility of parole after that date if it's thought safe to release him) was heard by the High Court of Justice on 16 July 2010.
The High Court decided that Peter Sutcliffe will never be released from prison. Mr Justice Mitting stated:
"This was a campaign of murder which terrorised the population of a large part of Yorkshire for several years. The only explanation for it, on the jury's verdict, was anger, hatred and obsession. Apart from a terrorist outrage, it is difficult to conceive of circumstances in which one man could account for so many victims."
Various psychological reports, describing the mental state of Sutcliffe were taken into consideration, as well as the severity of his crimes. Barring any judicial decisions to the contrary, Sutcliffe will spend the rest of his life in Broadmoor Hospital. On 4 August 2010, a spokeswoman for the Judicial Communications Office confirmed that Coonan had initiated his appeal against the latest decision.
The hearing for his appeal against this ruling began on 30 November 2010 at the Court of Appeal. This appeal was rejected on 14 January 2011. On 9 March 2011, the Court of Appeal rejected Sutcliffe's application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Criticism of West Yorkshire Police
West Yorkshire Police were criticised for being inadequately prepared for an investigation on this scale. The case was one of the largest ever investigations by a British police force and pre-dated the use of computers in criminal cases. The information on suspects was stored on handwritten index cards. Aside from difficulties in storing and accessing such a bulk of paperwork (the floor of the incident room had to be reinforced to cope with the weight of the paper), it was difficult for officers to overcome the information overload of such a large manual system. Sutcliffe was interviewed nine times, but all information the police had about the case was stored in paper form, making cross referencing a difficult task. This fact was compounded by the television appeal for information, which generated thousands more documents to process.
The Assistant Chief Constable (Crime), George Oldfield, was criticised for being too focused on the "I'm Jack" Wearside tape and letters. The original investigation used them as a point of elimination rather than a line of enquiry. This angle allowed Sutcliffe to avoid scrutiny, as he did not fit the profile of the sender of the tape or letters. The official response to these criticisms led to the implementation of the forerunner of the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System, firstly through the development of MICA (Major Incident Computer Application), which was developed between West Yorkshire Police and ISIS Computer Services. In 1988, the mother of the last victim argued in court that the police had failed to use reasonable care in apprehending the murderer of her daughter in Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police 1988. The House of Lords held that the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire did not owe a duty of care to the mother.
The Byford Report
On June 1, 2006 the UK Home Office released Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Lawrence Byford's 1981 report of an official inquiry into the Ripper case. Part of the document entitled "Description of suspects, photofits and other assaults" remains censored by the Home Office. Also partly censored was a section on Sutcliffe’s "Immediate Associates".
Referring to the period between 1969 - when Sutcliffe first came to the attention of police - and 1975, the year of the murder of Wilma McCann, the report states: "There is a curious and unexplained lull in Sutcliffe's criminal activities and there is the possibility that he carried out other attacks on prostitutes and unaccompanied women during that period."
In 1969 Sutcliffe, described in the Byford report as an "otherwise unremarkable young man", came to the notice of police on two occasions in connection with incidents involving prostitutes. The report said that it was clear he had on at least one occasion attacked a Bradford prostitute with a cosh.
Also in 1969 he was arrested in the red light district of the city in possession of a hammer. However, rather than believing Sutcliffe might use the hammer as an offensive weapon, the arresting officers assumed he was a burglar and he was charged with "going equipped for stealing."
Sir Lawrence's report states: "We feel it is highly improbable that the crimes in respect of which Sutcliffe has been charged and convicted are the only ones attributable to him. This feeling is reinforced by examining the details of a number of assaults on women since 1969 which, in some ways, clearly fall into the established pattern of Sutcliffe’s overall modus-operandi. I hasten to add that I feel sure that the senior police officers in the areas concerned are also mindful of this possibility but, in order to ensure full account is taken of all the information available, I have arranged for an effective liaison to take place." Police identified a number of attacks which matched Sutcliffe’s modus operandi and tried to question the killer, but he was never charged with other crimes.
The Byford report’s major findings were contained in a summary published by the then home secretary, William Whitelaw, but this is the first time precise details of the bungled police investigation have been disclosed. Sir Lawrence described delays in following up vital tip-offs from Trevor Birdsall, an associate of Sutcliffe’s since 1966. A letter sent to police by Mr Birdsall on November 25 1980 in which he named Sutcliffe was marked "Priority No 1".
An index card was created on the basis of the letter and a policewoman found Sutcliffe already had three existing index cards in the records. But "for some inexplicable reason", said the Byford report, the papers remained in a filing tray in the incident room until the murderer’s arrest on January 2 the following year.
Mr Birdsall visited Bradford police station the day after sending the letter to express further misgivings about Sutcliffe. A report compiled on this visit was lost, despite a "comprehensive search" which took place after Sutcliffe’s arrest, according to the report. Sir Lawrence said: "The failure to take advantage of Birdsall’s anonymous letter and his visit to the police station was yet again a stark illustration of the progressive decline in the overall efficiency of the major incident room. It resulted in Sutcliffe being at liberty for more than a month when he might conceivably have been in custody. Thankfully, there is no reason to think he committed any further murderous assaults within that period."
Bilton, Michael. Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper. HarperCollins, 2003. ISBN 0007169639.
Burn, Gordon. Somebody's Husband, Somebody's Son: The Story of Peter Sutcliffe. Heinemann, 1984. Original from the University of Michigan.
Cross, Roger. Yorkshire Ripper. HarperCollins Canada, Limited, 1981. ISBN 0586055266.
McCann, Richard. Just a Boy: The True Story of A Stolen Childhood. Ebury Press, 2005. ISBN 0091898226.
O'Gara, Noel. The Real Yorkshire Ripper. Court Publications, Ballinahowen, Athlone, Ireland, 1989.
Ward Jouve, Nicole. The Streetcleaner: The Yorkshire Ripper Case on Trial. Kampmann, 1986. ISBN 0714528471.
Sutcliffe, Peter William
A book of this nature could hardly be complete without the case of the Yorkshire Ripper. In fact anyone that remembers the cases as they actually happened will remember the fear that people felt. This fear was not just felt by potential victims but also by the police who seemed to be powerless to stop this maniac from carrying out his strange mission in life.
It all began in June 1969. Sutcliffe thought that his girlfriend, Sonia Szurma, was being unfaithful to him so he visited a prostitute 'to get even'. The prostitute took the £10 and then got her pimp to chase the young man away. Apparently three weeks later Sutcliffe saw the woman in a pub and demanded his money back. She laughed at him.
In late August 1969 a prostitute walking along St Paul's Road in Bradford's red-light district was attacked from behind and hit over the head by what she thought was a brick in a sock. Although badly stunned, she was still able to note the number of the man's vehicle as he drove away. She reported the assault to the police who traced the number, it turned out to belong to a man called Peter Sutcliffe. He did not deny hitting the woman but told officers that he had only struck the woman with his open hand and, because he had no criminal record, he was let off with a caution. Six weeks later Olive Smelt was attacked in a similar manner. No connection was made between this attack and the earlier one.
The first victim was discovered on a cold, foggy morning on the 30th October 1975. A milkman doing his round of a Leeds' suburb noticed a bundle lying in the playing field. As he got closer he was able to see it was a woman. She was lying on her back with her white, flared trousers around her knees. Her skull had been shattered by two hammer blows and her chest and stomach were covered in blood where she had been stabbed 14 times. The victim was 28-year-old Wilma 'Hotpants' McCann. Originally from Glasgow she now lived in a Chapeltown council house and had reverted to prostitution to support her four children. As she was still wearing her knickers, and her purse was missing, police thought this was a robbery perhaps carried out by one of her clients. What had in fact happened was that Sutcliffe had picked up the woman and taken her to the field for the purpose of having sex. When he failed to get an erection she told him that he was useless and had laughed at him. He asked her to wait while he went back to his car for something. He went back to his car and fetched the hammer and a knife.
The killing caused very little excitement in the press, she was after all only a prostitute. Prostitution was a dangerous game and murders were not uncommon. On 20th January 1976 when the next murder took place the police became a little more concerned. It now looked as if they had someone with a grudge against prostitutes, possibly even a serial killer.
Emily Jackson was 42-years-old and married to a roofing contractor. Early in the evening of the 20th Emily and her husband arrived at the Gaiety pub on the Roundhay Road. Emily soon left her husband while she went off to find some 'trade'. When she had not returned by closing time Mr Jackson, assumed his wife had found a boyfriend for the night and took a taxi home alone.
Her body was found by an early shift worker who noticed something huddled underneath a coat in an alley in Chapeltown, Leeds. Like Wilma McCann she had been hit twice on the back of the head. The front of her torso had been slashed over 50 times with a knife and her back had been gouged with a Phillips screwdriver. Also like the previous murder, Emily Jackson's breasts were exposed and her knickers had been left on. The killer had stamped on her thigh and in so doing had left the first clear clue, he took size seven shoes.
It was over a year before the next murder. It was the 6th January 1977 when an early morning jogger saw a body slumped behind a sports pavilion on Soldier's Field, a public playing-field. The body was lying face down and once again the skull had been shattered by three massive hammer blows. The body was soon identified as that of 28-year-old Irene Richardson, another prostitute. Police discovered she had left her lodgings in Cowper Street, Chapeltown, shortly before midnight the previous evening to go to a dance.
Murder victim number four was killed on April 22nd. Patricia 'Tina' Atkinson was a 32-year-old mother with three daughters. She had been drinking in the Carlisle public house and when she left was rather the worse for wear. She left just before closing time and was not seen alive again except by her killer. When she wasn't seen at all the next day everyone assumed that she was just sleeping it off somewhere. When friends called round on the evening of the 23rd they found her front door unlocked. Going in they found a bundle on the bed, wrapped in blankets, it was Tina. As she had entered her flat the night before, someone had smashed her head with four hammer blows. Her body had also been slashed. There was a bloody footprint on the bottom bed sheet, it was that of a size seven wellington boot. It was identical to the print found on Emily Jackson's thigh.
When news of the killing of another prostitute reached the press it was not long before comparisons were being made with the infamous Whitechapel murders and the killer was named the 'Yorkshire Ripper' by George Hill, in the Daily Express.
On 26th June 1977, the Ripper acted out of character when he chose a 16-year-old girl who was not a prostitute. The victim this time was Jayne MacDonald. She had been out dancing at the Hofbrauhaus in Leeds and walking down Reginald Terrace, on her way home at about 2am when she was attacked.
At 9.45 the following morning a group of children entered the adventure playground in Reginald Terrace and found Jayne's body lying by a wall. She had been hit over the head as she walked and then dragged 20 yards into the playground. Sutcliffe had then struck her twice more before repeatedly stabbing her.
Maureen Long was luckier than the others when she was attacked while walking near her home in Bradford. She was dragged into an alleyway but before Sutcliffe could inflict any further damage something caused him to flee. She survived to give the police a sketchy description of her assailant, over six feet tall, collar-length fair hair and 36 to 37-years-old. It was not a lot but the police were beginning to build up a picture.
The next victim was another prostitute called Jean Bernadette Jordan. She was a 21-year-old Scot and mother of two sons who lived in Hulme, Manchester. On Saturday 1st October 1977 she accepted a £5 note from a man in Moss Side, Manchester, and climbed into a new red Ford Corsair. She told him to drive to some wasteland near Southern Cemetery, about two miles away. When they got there the man struck her over the head with a hammer, eleven times. He dragged her body into some bushes but once again something disturbed him, this time it was another car approaching and he drove off in a hurry. Sutcliffe then realised that he had left behind a clue that could point to him. The £5 note that he had given the girl was brand-new and had come from a wage packet he had received just two days earlier. There was little he could do as it would be too dangerous to go back for it. When there had been no news of the killing for eight days he drove back to Moss Side and scoured the area for the girl's purse. When he couldn't find the purse he attacked the body, in a fury of frustration, with a piece of glass, almost severing the head. He left still unable to find the note. The next day Jayne's naked body was discovered. Identification had to be made from her fingerprints as the head was unrecognisable.
The police did find the new £5 note near the body and, over the next three months, police interviewed over 5,000 men in an attempt to find out who had given the note to the girl. One of those visited by police was Sutcliffe who aroused no suspicions for the interviewing officers and the report that was filed cleared him from their enquiry.
Next to die was 18-year-old Helen Rytka. Her body was discovered under a railway viaduct in Huddersfield. Helen and her twin sister, Rita, worked the Great Northern Street area of Huddersfield. They concentrated on the car trade and, because of the Ripper killings, looked out for each other. They worked out a system where each client was given 20 minutes so they could be expected back at a precise time. They also noted the vehicle number of each other's client's cars.
On the night of Tuesday 31st January Helen deviated from the routine. She arrived back five minutes early and should have waited for her sister but instead she accepted the offer from a bearded man in a red Corsair. She took him to Garrard's timber yard, a short distance away. Here they had intercourse in the back of the car, probably because two other men were hanging around the yard. Once they had gone and Helen and Sutcliffe went to return to the front of the car, he attacked her with a hammer. The first blow missed and hit the car but the second connected and he followed it up with another five crushing blows to the skull and numerous knifings, she was dead long before he finished attacking the body.
Sutcliffe dragged her body to a woodpile under the viaduct and hid it. Rita was worried about her sister's disappearance but because she did not want to get into trouble with the police she delayed raising the alarm. Once she did, the police set up a search for the girl. It was three days after the killing that a police dog found the body.
On the 26th March 1978 a man noticed an arm sticking out from under an upturned sofa on wasteland in Lumb Lane, Bradford. The body was that of 22-year-old mother of two and prostitute, Yvonne Pearson.
On 21st January, ten weeks earlier, she had left her two small daughters with a neighbour and gone to the Flying Dutchman public house. She left there about 9.30pm and climbed in a car driven by a bearded man with piercing, black eyes. He took her to wasteland in Athington Street. Here he beat her to death with a club hammer, dragged her to the sofa where he jumped on her chest until her ribs cracked.
The next victim was 41-year-old Vera Millward. She was Spanish-born and the mother of seven. She had arrived in England after the war, later lived with a Jamaican and took to prostitution to support her large family. On the night on Tuesday 16th May she left her flat in Greenham Avenue, Hulme, to buy some cigarettes, she did not return. At 8.10 the next morning her body was discovered on a rubbish heap in the corner of a car park in Manchester Royal Infirmary. Like all the others she had died from three blows to the head. Her stomach had then been slashed.
Once again the murders stopped this time for eleven months. On the night of Wednesday 4th April 1979 he drove to Halifax. Just before midnight he got out of his car and followed 19-year-old Josephine Walker as she crossed Savile Park playing fields. Josephine lived with her parents and was a clerk with the Halifax Building Society. He attacked her from behind and smashed her skull with a hammer and dragged her into the darkness. Her body was found the next morning.
In the period up to the end of 1978, Sutcliffe had been interviewed by police on four separate occasions. Twice about the banknote which, through its serial number AW51121565, had been traced to the company that Sutcliffe worked for, T & WH Clark they were unable to trace it any further.
In the summer of 1978 police had returned after Sutcliffe's vehicle registration had turned up during special checks carried out in Bradford and Leeds. The fourth time had been when they came to check the tread patterns on his tyres after tracks had been found at the scene of the Irene Richardson murder. Somehow on each occasion he had been given a clean bill of health.
Between March 1978 and June 1979, Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield, the detective leading the hunt, had received three anonymous letters and a cassette tape. This was to delay his capture even more. A £1 million police publicity campaign was launched to try and identify the voice on the tape who was claiming to be the Ripper, with the Geordie accent.
In July 1979 Sutcliffe was interviewed again, this time about the fact that his car had been logged as being in the Lumb Lane red-light district of Bradford on 36 separate occasions. Police were noting all cars in the area.
In the early hours of Saturday 1st September, 20-year-old Bradford University student, Barbara Leach parted from her friends outside the Mannville Arms in the Little Horton area of Bradford. She started off towards her home but never got there.
Late the following afternoon her body was found under old carpets beside a dustbin. She had been attacked in Ash Grove, just 200 yards from the pub then dragged into a back garden. She had been stabbed eight times with a rusty screwdriver.
The next killing did not occur until Thursday 18th August 1980. This was his twelfth victim. Marguerite Walls left her office, after working late, at 10pm to walk the mile to her home in Farsley. She was a 47-year-old civil servant in the Department of Education and Science in Pudsey. Her body was found two days later buried under grass clippings in the grounds of a magistrate's house. She had been battered and strangled. It seemed that all women were now fair game to him regardless of their occupations.
Over the next two months Sutcliffe attacked two more women, one in Huddersfield, the other in Leeds, but for some reason he did not kill them and they both survived. Jacqueline Hill was a 20-year old student who was the Rippers last victim. On 17th November she got off the bus in Otley Road to walk the short distance to her university residence. He struck her down and dragged her body to a patch of waste ground behind a row of shops.
Less than two months later Sutcliffe was in custody and his reign of terror was over. His arrest had been one of pure chance. When Sergeant Bob Ring and PC Robert Hydes were out on patrol they saw prostitute Olivia Reivers climb into a Rover V8 3500 in Melbourne Avenue, Sheffield, and knowing the girl they decided to investigate alleged soliciting.
At that time they never imagined that they were about to bring to an end Britain's longest and costliest manhunt. When they spoke to the driver of the Rover he identified himself as Peter Williams. When asked if this was his car he said yes. He then asked if he could go to the bushes to relieve himself. While he went off into the bushes at the side of the road the officers requested a PNC check on the vehicle registration. It was soon confirmed that the number plates did not match the Rover and so 'Peter Williams' and his companion were both taken to Hammerton Road police station.
Once at the station he admitted that his real name was Peter William Sutcliffe and that he had stolen the number plates from a scrap-yard in Dewsbury. When asked why he had lied he said it was because he was afraid that his wife might find out that he went with prostitutes. It was the 2nd January 1981. Again, he asked if he could go to the toilet.
At that time there was an order out to every police station in the country that they were to inform West Yorkshire police if they found any man in the company of a prostitute. As it was late at night Sutcliffe was locked in a cell and was taken next morning to Dewsbury police station. Here he told the interviewing officers that he was a lorry driver and also that he had been previously been interviewed by police over his regular visits to the red-light area in Bradford and also over a £5 note that had been found in the purse of a murdered prostitute.
DS Des O'Boyle of the Ripper Squad at Millgarth, Leeds, was informed of Sutcliffe's arrest and when he found that the name showed up in several computer searches he decided to drive over to Dewsbury. By that evening it had been established that Sutcliffe's blood group was group B, the same as the man they were seeking, and O'Boyle informed his DI, John Boyle, and he, too, travelled to Dewsbury. Sutcliffe was locked in a cell for a second night.
When Bob Ring happened to hear from one of his colleagues that the man they had picked up was still being held at Dewsbury a thought occured to him and he rushed back to Melbourne Avenue. Remembering that when they had picked up the man he had asked to go into the bushes to relieve himself the officer made a quick search through the bushes until he found what he was looking for. There, in the undergrowth, were a knife and a hammer.
Police had also discovered the second knife that Sutcliffe had carried the night he was arrested and which he had hidden inside the cistern when he went to the toilet.
The next morning Sutcliffe was interviewed by DI Boyle, who avoided any mention of the Ripper enquiry. Then, in the afternoon, Boyle told Sutcliffe about the knife and hammer found in Melbourne Avenue. Boyle said to him, "I think you're in trouble, serious trouble." After a pause Sutcliffe replied "I think you are leading up to the Yorkshire Ripper." "What about the Yorkshire Ripper?" asked Boyle, "Well," said Sutcliffe, that's me." In a statement that took nearly 17 hours to record Sutcliffe confessed to killing 11 women.
His trial opened at the Old Bailey on 5th May 1981. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter, claiming in his defence that he had heard voices from God commanding him to kill prostitutes. The jury were not impressed by these claims and, on 22nd May, they found Peter Sutcliffe guilty on 11 counts of murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he serve at least 30 years.
In March 1984 he was transferred to Ward One of Somerset House, Broadmoor. While being in prison Sutcliffe has been attacked by other prisoners who dislike his sort of crime as much as anyone else. He was badly cut in one attack and had to have 84 stitches.
Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper
BBC – Crime Case Closed
Through the late 1970s and early 80s, women in the north of England lived in fear of a killer known both as the Yorkshire Ripper and Wearside Jack.
Fuelled by media and police investigation, the public remained concerned for friends and family for over five years. That was until January 1981 and the arrest of Olivia Reivers and her client. Olivia was supposed to have been the Yorkshire Ripper's 14th victim.
But she was lucky ...
The 24-year-old prostitute was plying her trade in Sheffield's red light district when a punter pulled up in a brown Rover. They agreed a price, she got into the car and the man drove half a mile to a secluded spot in Melbourne Avenue. Ten minutes later, after a fumbled attempt at sex, a police car turned into the drive where they were parked.
Sergeant Robert Ring and Constable Robert Hydes approached the parked car and the man gave his name as Peter Williams and told them she was his girlfriend, but when asked what her name was he said: "I don't know, I haven't known her that long". The two officers were naturally suspicious and when they checked the car's number plates over the radio with the police national computer they found they belonged to a Skoda and not the brown Rover that they were looking at.
Olivia and her client were arrested, but the two police officers allowed him to wander off and relieve himself behind a nearby storage tank. They were taken to a Sheffield police station and Williams admitted his real name was Peter Sutcliffe. He went to sleep in a cell, confident he would be charged with no more than stealing the number plates, worth about 50p, from a Dewsbury scrapyard.
Acting on instincts
But Sgt Ring decided, on a hunch, to return to the scene of the arrest and have another look around. Behind the storage tank he discovered a ball-pein hammer and a knife. It was 11pm on 3 January 1981. The hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper was over.
Convinced Sutcliffe was the man he had been looking for, Detective Inspector John Boyle of the Ripper Squad, said: "I think you are in serious trouble."
Sutcliffe replied: "I think you have been leading up to it."
"Leading up to what?" asked Boyle.
"The Yorkshire Ripper," said Sutcliffe.
"What about the Yorkshire Ripper?" asked the detective.
"Well, it's me. I'm glad it is all over. I would have killed that girl in Sheffield if I hadn't been caught. But I want to tell my wife myself. It is her I'm thinking about - and my family. I am not bothered about myself."
Over the next 15 hours Sutcliffe gave a detailed statement about his life as the Ripper.
For the past five years the Ripper had spread a reign of terror over much of northern England and forced thousands of women to live in fear. It is not known what sparked his attacks. Sutcliffe claimed at his trial that he had heard "voices from God" telling him to go on a mission to rid the streets of prostitutes.
There is no doubt the quietly spoken Yorkshireman hated streetwalkers, probably stemming from an incident when he was ripped off by one in Bradford's notorious Manningham Lane red light district. He began attacking women in the summer of 1975: two in Keighley and one in Halifax. All three survived and police did not notice the similarities between the attacks.
The first fatality ...
In the early hours of 30 October 1975 Sutcliffe's attacks turned fatal. Wilma McCann, a 28-year-old prostitute from the run-down Chapeltown district of Leeds, kissed her four young children goodnight and went out for a night on the town. She spent the night drinking in various Leeds pubs and clubs and by 1am was touting for business not far from her Chapeltown home.
Sutcliffe picked her up in his lime green Ford Capri and took her to the nearby Prince Phillip playing fields. He suggested they have sex on the grass. Sutcliffe stated in his confession that she got out, unfastened her trousers and snapped: "Come on, get it over with." "Don't worry, I will," Sutcliffe mumbled as he reached for his hidden hammer and began battering Wilma.
As she lay prone on the grass, he stabbed her in the neck, chest and abdomen to "make sure she was dead." Afterwards he drove home to his wife, Sonia, who was a schoolteacher. Sutcliffe later told police: "I carried on as normal, living with my wife. After that first time I developed and played up a hatred for prostitutes in order to justify within myself a reason why I had attacked and killed Wilma McCann."
More to come...
It wouldn't take long for the Ripper to continue his killing spree.
Four months later Emily Jackson from Leeds, was battered with a hammer and stabbed 52 times with a screwdriver.
Sutcliffe did not strike again until February 1977, when he killed Irene Richardson, another Leeds hooker. Two months later he struck for the first time in his hometown, Bradford, killing 32-year-old Patricia Atkinson.
The case only came to the attention of the national press in June 1977 when Sutcliffe claimed the life of Jayne MacDonald, a 16-year-old shop assistant. After a night out in Leeds city centre with some friends she was walking home along Chapeltown Road. At 2am she stopped and chatted to two prostitutes.
She was probably asking the time, or seeking directions, but the conversation convinced the prowling Sutcliffe that she too was a street girl. He followed her and attacked her with a hammer and a kitchen knife, before dumping her in an adventure playground. The murder, and the fact that a serial killer was on the loose in Yorkshire, shocked the whole country.
The assailant was dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper by the press and West Yorkshire's Chief Constable Ronald Gregory appointed his most senior detective, Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield, to investigate the murders.
Sutcliffe, alarmed by the sudden increase in police action in Yorkshire, chose Manchester for his next attack. Jean Jordan, 20, was murdered in October 1977. Her body was mutilated (Sutcliffe tried to cut off her head) and dumped on allotments. Before killing her Sutcliffe paid her £5, which she put in her handbag. After killing her, he threw her bag into shrubs nearly 200 feet from her body.
The bag was not found by the police's initial search and Sutcliffe actually returned to the scene of the crime looking for it, because he feared the £5 note, which was brand new and was fresh out of his pay packet, could be traced back to him. He did not find it but the police eventually did and then realised the importance of the note. They traced the serial number back to the payroll of several Yorkshire firms.
One of them was road hauliers T and W H Clark. One of their employees was a Peter Sutcliffe.
A simple mistake
Sutcliffe was interviewed by police at the time but provided what seemed like a perfectly good alibi, he and his wife had been hosting a housewarming party. Later it became clear that Sutcliffe had driven to Manchester after the party.
Emboldened by his escape from arrest, Sutcliffe stepped up his attacks. Three prostitutes, Yvonne Pearson, Helen Rytka and Vera Millward, were killed in the space of four months in early 1978 in Bradford, Huddersfield and Manchester.
Desperate for results, Mr Oldfield set up a Ripper Squad and was given large numbers of officers and resources. But, weighed down with vast amounts of filing and paperwork and without computers to assist them, they were not getting anywhere.
Women in Yorkshire, Manchester and other parts of the north of England lived in fear throughout 1978, 1979 and 1980. Few would venture out alone after dark. Sutcliffe had even warned his own sister of the dangers of going out alone at night and would often give her a lift.
In some cities, groups of volunteers and vigilantes roamed the street to "protect our women". On occasion men fitting one of the photofits issued by police were attacked. Shortly after the Ripper struck again: Halifax Building Society clerk Josephine Whitaker was killed in the town in April 1979, Oldfield made a tragic strategic mistake.
Oldfield decided that a series of handwritten letters, posted in Sunderland, were the work of the Ripper. In them the author, dubbing himself Jack The Ripper, bragged about his handiwork and taunted Oldfield for failing to catch him.
The wrong suspect
In June 1979, the letter writer upped the ante, by sending the police an audio cassette in which he continued to boast and goad Oldfield. Certain aspects of the letter led Oldfield to believe the author had to be the Ripper, but it was a disastrous mistake.
Wearside Jack, as he became known, had a distinctive voice. Softly spoken, with a pronounced lisp, his accent was pinpointed by experts to the Castletown district of Sunderland. Oldfield gambled his whole career on the authenticity of the letters and tape.
He set up Dial-the-Ripper phonelines where the public could ring in and listen to the tape and devoted a large proportion of his officers to the task of identifying Wearside Jack. It was drilled into detectives that they could discount suspects if they did not have a Wearside accent.
In July 1979, Sutcliffe was interviewed for the fifth time. Detective Constables Andrew Laptew and Graham Greenwood were suspicious but their report was simply marked "to file" because his voice and handwriting did not fit the bill.
In September 1979 the Ripper struck again, in Bradford, the victim was Barbara Leach.
A month earlier Oldfield had suffered a heart attack and the following year he was finally forced to retire after the Ripper claimed two more victims: Marguerite Walls and Jacqueline Hill. Detective Chief Superintendent James Hobson replaced Oldfield in November 1980. He downgraded the importance of the Wearside Jack tape and letters, although he never publicly refuted the link.
It was only in January 1981 when the real Ripper was caught, quite by accident, that West Yorkshire Police were forced to admit that he did not have a Wearside accent. They had been wrong all along.
Imprisoned at last
In May 1981, only five months after his arrest but five years and thirteen murders later, Sutcliffe was jailed for life at the Old Bailey. The judge recommending a minimum sentence of thirty years.
Sutcliffe was sent to Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight, but was later transferred to Broadmoor secure hospital in Berkshire in 1984 after a fellow inmate at Parkhurst jail slashed him with a broken coffee jar.
During his time in prison, Sutcliffe has been attacked a number of times. In 1997, he was attacked by a fellow patient at Broadmoor, Ian Kay, who stabbed him in both eyes with a pen. Sutcliffe lost the sight in his left eye as a result of the attack.
Sutcliffe remains at Broadmoor secure hospital.
The Ripper's victims
30 Oct 1975: Wilma McCann, 28, Leeds
20 Jan 1976: Emily Jackson, 42, Leeds
5 Feb 1977: Irene Richardson, 28, Leeds
23 Apr 1977: Patricia Atkinson, 32, Bradford
26 Jun 1977: Jayne MacDonald, 16, Leeds
1 Oct 1977: Jean Jordan, 20, Manchester
21 Jan 1978: Yvonne Pearson, 21, Bradford
31 Jan 1978: Helen Rytka, 18, Huddersfield
16 May 1978: Vera Millward, 40, Manchester
4 Apr 1979: Josephine Whitaker, 19, Halifax
2 Sep 1979: Barbara Leach, 20, Bradford
20 Aug 1980: Marguerite Walls, 47, Leeds
17 Nov 1980: Jacqueline Hill, 20, Leeds
This profile of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, was written by BBC News Online's Chris Summers.
Update on the Wearside Hoaxer
In October 2005 John Humble, a former builder, was arrested and charged with being the Yorkshire Ripper hoaxer known as Wearside Jack.
He is accused of perverting the cause of justice by sending two letters and a tape recording to police hunting the killer between 1 March 1978 and 30 June 1979. He is also accused of sending a third letter to the Daily Mirror newspaper.
A provisional trial date has been set for 20 February 2006.
On Friday, 2 January 1981 the Yorkshire Ripper's five-year reign of terror came to an end. In the previous five years, beginning in July 1975 with his first attack, he had killed thirteen women and left seven others for dead.
The seven survivors were told how lucky they were, but with physical, emotional and psychological scars that would never completely heal, they didn't feel very lucky. Some would even believe that they would have been better off if the man they had known for so long as The Ripper, had succeeded in killing them. As the nation celebrated the final triumph of good over evil, the Yorkshire Ripper's family sat stunned. It was incomprehensible to them that the Peter William Sutcliffe that they knew and loved could possibly be responsible for the heinous crimes of the Yorkshire Ripper.
Peter William Sutcliffe was the first-born son of John and Kathleen Sutcliffe. He was born in Bingley, an industrial county of Yorkshire , England , on 2 June 1946 weighing only 5lb, but healthy in every way. As they took him home from the hospital, both parents were confidant that their son would grow to be like his father, a burly man who loved to play and watch any type of sport and an extrovert who loved a drink at the local pub. John looked forward to the day that he and his son would share the manly pleasures of life, but Peter would not grow to be a man's man like his father. He was a quiet, shy boy who much preferred to stay indoors with his mother than join in the rough games of his younger brothers and sisters, choosing to read rather than play sport. Greatly intimidated by his father's aggressive masculinity, he found a safe haven in his mother, a gentle loving woman who adored all six of her children.
At school, which he always hated, Peter did not attempt to integrate with the other children. He would spend each play hour standing alone in a safe corner, away from the other children, avoiding the rough games from which he, being small and not particularly strong, invariably came out the worse for wear. His father's concern for his son during his primary years led him to visit Peter at the school each afternoon, hoping to encourage his son to join in with the other children, but to no avail.
The move to Secondary School was no better for Peter. He became the subject of severe bullying, culminating in his truancy from school for two weeks, before his parents were informed of his absence. He had spent the two weeks hiding in the upstairs loft, reading comics and books by torchlight. Although the bullying stopped after the school took action, Peter, who never fought with other boys or chased after the girls, was seen as different, set apart from the rest.
In the last years of secondary school, Peter attempted to fit in with the other boys and overcome the stigma of outcast he had been given in his younger years. He took up bodybuilding and was soon, to his father's great delight, able to beat both of his brothers at arm wrestling. While still showing no sign of interest in girls, he would learn to play some sports in order to fit in, but his fear of leaving a mark or bringing attention to himself would cause him to never excel in any area of his schooling. He left school at the age of fifteen with no clear focus of what he wanted to do with his life.
Over the next two years, Peter would change jobs regularly. He started in the mill where his father worked, but within a few weeks left to begin an engineering apprenticeship, which he quit after only nine months. His next job was as a labourer in a factory, but again, after only a short time, he quit to work as a gravedigger at the Bingley Cemetery .
Peter continued to be devoted to his mother all through his teen years and would happily run errands for her and spend a great deal of time with her. Things were not so good with his father who, Peter felt, spent far too much time away from the family home with sport and socialising, an issue that Peter had always resented. For John Sutcliffe, his greatest concerns about his son were allayed by the time Peter celebrated his eighteenth birthday.
Although he never did share his father's love of sport, he had taken up bodybuilding and other manly pursuits, including a passion for riding and repairing motorbikes. The only other concern was that Peter still showed no interest in girls, and had never had a girlfriend.
In his twentieth year, while with friends at the Royal Standard, a hotel in Manningham Lane , Peter deliberately approached a girl for the first time. Her name was Sonia Szurma, the second daughter of Maria and Bodhan Szurma, immigrants from Czechoslovakia, now living in Bradford. Polish-born Bodhan, a physical education teacher and university lecturer in Czechoslovakia, was not happy with his daughter's choice at first, but in time he would come to see Peter as a hard working man who was careful with money, and most importantly, who treated his daughter well. Sonia held hopes of becoming a teacher when she met Peter, and although they would not marry for another eight years, the intention to marry had always been an unspoken expectation for the couple.
In the eyes of John and Kathleen Sutcliffe, Peter had grown up to be the ideal son. As far as they could tell, his only flaw was his work record, which was tainted by his habitual lateness, and eventually cost him his job at the cemetery, after which he held a number of labouring positions. By April 1973, this final problem seemed to be cured, when he began his first really steady job doing permanent night shift at the Brittania Works of Anderton International.
In 1974, the family pressure for Peter and Sonia to marry had finally convinced him that they should do so, even if they hadn't yet saved for a deposit on a house and Sonia had not been able to complete her teaching degree, because of a schizophrenic episode during the second year into her course. With the decision that they would live together with Sonia's parents, they married on 10 August, Sonia's 24 th birthday.
Peter had succeeded in creating a public persona that was exemplary, described by many as hard working and quiet, a caring and loving husband who kept to himself with no outward signs of the violence and depravity he had hidden deep within him. There were very few who had ever seen the other side of Peter. Gary Jackson, who had worked with Peter at the cemetery, had found his pleasure in playing morbid pranks with the skeletons and the theft of rings from the hands of some of those he buried, to be more than a little macabre. His brother-in-law, Robin Holland, would often go out drinking with Peter in the red-light districts of Yorkshire where Peter would often brag about his exploits with the prostitutes in the area. While at home, he would continue to play the part of family saint who would make grand stands about the immorality of men who two-timed their wives.
Eventually, Peter's hypocrisy became too much for Robin and he refused to go out with him any more. Trevor Birdsall had become friends with Peter at about the same time as he met Sonia and would eventually report to police his suspicions that Peter Sutcliffe was the Yorkshire Ripper. Trevor and Peter would spend hundreds of hours over the next few years in pubs and cruising the streets of the red-light districts in Peter's succession of cars. Peter had seemed to have a liking for prostitutes, mixed with a strange anger. Trevor remembered vividly a night in Bradford in 1969, when Peter had left him in the car for a few minutes. When he returned, Peter told him that he had tried to hit a prostitute with a brick he had put inside a sock, but the sock had fallen apart and the brick had fallen out. Despite his strange behaviour, Trevor would remain friends with Peter until his arrest in 1981.
Six months after his marriage to Sonia, Peter Sutcliffe took the opportunity of a £400 pound redundancy package. He used the money to acquire his licence to drive large trucks. On 4 June 1975, two days after his twenty-ninth birthday, he passed the HGV test Class 1 and then bought himself a white Ford Corsair with a black roof, while keeping his first car, a lime-green Ford Capri GT. During the following month, Peter was to tell friends and family of the sad news of Sonia's many miscarriages. Soon after the latest miscarriage, Peter and Sonia were informed that Sonia would not be able to have the children that they had both wanted so much.
It was not long after this that Peter made his first reported attack. Anna Patricia Rogulskyj lived in Keighly. The slim attractive blonde in her early thirties had been divorced from her Ukrainian husband for two years. On the night of 4 July 1975, she and boyfriend Jeff Hughes, whom she expected to marry in the near future, had had a fight. Still angry, she had left him to go out drinking with friends at a club in Bradford.
Her two Jamaican friends dropped her outside of her home at 1:00 am, where she expected to find her boyfriend. He wasn't there. Her earlier anger with him soon resurfaced and she decided to walk across town to his house, to finally sort things out. As she fruitlessly banged upon the door, Peter Sutcliffe stood in the shadows watching. Finally, in frustration, she removed one of her shoes and broke the glass of a downstairs window.
As she knelt to put her shoe back on, Peter quickly emerged from the shadows and struck her a savage blow to her head. Anna had not seen or heard anything and was unconscious as he dealt her another two blows with his hammer. Peter paused momentarily to catch his breath as the blood from Anna's wounds seeped across the cobblestones. He lifted her skirt and pulled down her underpants. As he returned the hammer to his pocket and took out a knife, his anger, under control until now, found expression with each slashing cut across her stomach.
The voice of a concerned neighbour, disturbed by the noise, quickly quelled the frenzied outpouring of Peter's rage. As the neighbour stood peering out into the alley, trying to focus in the poor light, Peter Sutcliffe pulled himself together and spoke calmly as he reassured the man that all was well and to go back inside, which he did. Peter straightened Anna's clothing and was gone as quickly as he had come.
After Peter returned home to his sleeping wife to continue his life as usual, Anna was found and rushed to the casualty department of Airedale hospital. From there she was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary for an emergency operation that lasted twelve hours. At one point, she was read the last rites. Miraculously, she survived but, unlike Peter, her life would never be the same after that night. She returned to her home where she would live alone with her five cats, barricaded behind a network of wires and alarms. She is terrified of strangers and rarely goes out. When she does, she walks in the middle of the street, as she is afraid of the shadows and terrified of people approaching her from behind. There is no boyfriend now, and no prospects of marriage. The £15,000 she received from the Criminal Compensation Board cannot buy back her life. She wishes that she had died that night.
The police were mystified by the attack, which appeared to have no motive. No money was stolen and it had not been a sexual attack. Her boyfriend and all of her friends had been cleared and there were no further leads apart from a vague description, given by the neighbour, of a man in his late twenties or early thirties, about five-foot-eight and wearing a check sports coat.
During the next month, while Peter looked for work as a driver, Sonia decided to complete her teacher training and enrolled at the Margaret McMillan College in Bradford . On Friday 15 August, Peter drove his friend Trevor Birdsall to Halifax where they drank in a number of pubs. It was in one of these pubs that Peter had first seen Mrs. Olive Smelt.
Forty-six-year-old Olive had followed her usual Friday night pattern of meeting her girlfriends for a drink in Halifax , while her husband Harry stayed at home with their 15-year-old-daughter Julie and 9-year-old-son Stephen. Two men known well by the women, gave them all a lift home. Olive was dropped in Boothtown Road , a short walk from her home.
At the same time, Peter left Trevor alone in his car. As Olive took a short cut through an alleyway at 11:45 pm, Peter walked up behind her and overtook her. The last thing Olive could remember was Peter saying, "Weather's letting us down isn't it?" before he dealt her a heavy blow to the back of her head. He hit her again as she fell to the ground then slashed at her back with his knife just above her buttocks. He was again prevented from completing his task. A car was quickly approaching, so Peter left Olive and returned to the car where Trevor was waiting. A mere ten minutes had passed.
Olive could not recall how she came to be found some yards down the road, moaning and calling for help. Neighbours took her to their home where they called an ambulance and sent someone to inform Harry. She was initially rushed to Halifax Infirmary and then to Leeds infirmary, where she spent ten days.
Once again, Peter had left another woman's life in pieces. Olive would continue to suffer from severe depression and memory loss. For months, she would wish that she were dead as the repercussions of the attack took hold of her life. She was continually depressed and took no interest in her life. She lived in fear, especially of men, and would sometimes look at her husband and wonder, hadn't he been a police suspect?
Their relationship was permanently altered and she rarely felt like having sex. Her past enjoyment of home making and cooking was lost and she now completed these tasks in robotic fashion. Her oldest daughter suffered a nervous breakdown, which doctors were sure was a direct result of the attack, and for many years, her son would continue to lock the door whenever he left his mother alone in the house.
Despite the similarities between the two apparently motiveless attacks upon Anna Rogulskyj and Olive Smelt, police would not link them for some time. It would be three years before they would confirm that the attacker was in fact the Yorkshire Ripper.
On 29 September 1975, Peter Sutcliffe began working as a delivery driver for a tyre company. Exactly one month later, he would succeed in killing his first victim and his reign of terror would begin.
Wilomena McCann, who preferred to be known as Wilma, was a fiery, Scottish 28-year-old, and a mother of four. Her body was found on the morning of 30 October 1975 lying face upwards on a sloping grass embankment of the Prince Phillip Playing Fields, off Scott Hall Road, just 100 yards from her council home in nearby Scott Hall Avenue.
Wilma had never settled into the mundane life of a wife and mother, much preferring the excitement of the nightlife in the many Leeds hotels. On the night of her death, she had left her four children in the care of her eldest daughter, 9-year-old Sonje, to go out drinking. She was to drink heavily until closing time at 10:30 pm and then make her way home.
Along the way, a lorry driver stopped when Wilma flagged him down, but continued on his way when he was greeted with a mixture of incoherent instructions and abuse, leaving her by the side of the road. She was seen at about 1:30 am being picked up by a West Indian man, who was the second last person to see her alive. Soon after 5:00 am, a neighbour found Wilma's two oldest daughters huddled together at the bus stop. They were cold, confused and frightened. Their mummy hadn't come home the night before and they were waiting in the hope that she would come home by bus.
Detective Chief Superintendent Dennis Hoban was in charge of the inquiry. When Professor Gee, the pathologist, completed his report, Hoban learned that Wilma had been struck twice on the back of the head, and then stabbed in the neck, chest and abdomen fifteen times. There were traces of semen found on the back of her trousers and underpants.
By the time the coroner's verdict of "murder by person or person's unknown" had been handed down, the one hundred and fifty police officers that Hoban had working on the case had interviewed seven thousand householders and six thousand lorry drivers. They had taken hundreds of statements from anyone with even the remotest connection to Wilma, each one painstakingly checked, but still they had not even come close to finding her killer.
On 20 November 1975, 26-year-old Joan Harrison's dead body was found in a garage in Preston, Lancashire . She had been hit over the back of the head with the heel of a shoe and then kicked severely until she was dead. Before leaving her, the killer had dragged her to a more secluded part of the garage where he pulled her trousers back on and pulled her bra down to cover her breasts. Placing the boot he had removed earlier in between her thighs, he then removed her coat and covered her with it. He took her handbag and dumped it in a refuse bin, after removing all its contents.
The killer was to leave a number of clues for the police. The first was a deep bite mark above her breast, which revealed that the killer had a gap between his front teeth. Tests on semen found in both her vagina and anus showed that the killer was what is known as a secretor, a person whose blood group information is secreted into their body fluids (approximately 80% of the population). The killer's blood group was of the rare B group.
Initially, Joan Harrison's murder was not linked to Wilma McCann's as there were too many differences in the killer's method. This decision would be altered when police were later to receive a number of letters from a man claiming to be the Yorkshire Ripper. He mentioned the murder in Preston , leading the police to incorrectly believe that Joan Harrison was also one of the Yorkshire Ripper's victims.
In reality, Peter Sutcliffe, the mysterious and elusive Yorkshire Ripper, did not claim another life until January 1976. Emily Monica Jackson, 42, lived with her husband and three children in Back Green, Churwell on the outskirts of Morley, west of Leeds . The Jacksons had been having financial problems for some time when Emily decided to begin taking money for sexual favours. Together, Emily and husband Sydney would drive their blue Commer van into Leeds where Sydney would wait for his wife in one of the bars while Emily would use the van to earn the extra money they needed.
On the night of Tuesday 20 January 1976, they parked their van in the carpark of the Gaiety and went inside. They had a drink together then Emily left to see whom she could find outside. Sydney was to wait there until she returned at closing time. When she wasn't there to meet him, he took a taxi home, expecting her to follow in the van shortly after. But she never returned home.
Emily's mutilated body was found just after 8:00 am the following morning only 800 yards from the Gaiety where her husband had waited for her. Peter Sutcliffe had left Emily lying on her back with her legs apart. She was still wearing her tights and pants, but her bra was pulled up, exposing her breasts.
Like Wilma before her, Peter had struck Emily on the head twice with his hammer and then stabbed her lower neck, upper chest and lower abdomen 51 times with a sharpened "Phillips" head screwdriver. Peter's need to vent his anger upon the already-dead Emily caused him to make a slip; he stomped on Emily's right thigh, leaving the impression of the heavy-ribbed Wellington boot. The boot was further identified as a Dunlop Warwick, probably size 7, definitely no larger than an 8. Another print was found in the sand nearby.
Hoban knew immediately that the man who had killed Emily Jackson was the same man that had killed Wilma McCann. Sydney Jackson, devastated by the vicious and senseless murder of his wife, believed that the man would kill again and prayed that he would soon be caught. He wept for his wife and sent their children to stay with relatives until he could tell them the terrible news of their mother's death.
On 5 March 1976, Peter Sutcliffe was fired from his job with the tyre company. Although he had been a good hard worker, Peter was constantly late for work. His late night forays into the red-light districts of Yorkshire made it difficult for him to arise early enough for work. It would take him many months of rejection and frustration before he could find work as a lorry driver because of his lack of experience.
In the same month, George Oldfield, Assistant Chief Constable at West Yorkshire Police Headquarters in Wakefield , received the first in a series of letters by a person claiming to be the Yorkshire Ripper. Oldfield quickly dismissed the letter, which claimed responsibility for the murder of Joan Harrison but showed no relation to the Ripper case, as just another one of the many crank letters he, and many newspapers, had already received.
As Marcella Claxton, a 20-year-old prostitute, walked home from a drinking party held by friends in Chapeltown around 4:00 am on the morning of 9 May 1976, a large white car pulled up along side her. She wasn't working that night but she asked the driver for a lift. Instead of driving her home, he drove her to Soldier's Field just off Roundhay Road. Peter offered Marcella 5 pounds to get out of the car and undress for sex on the grass, but she refused the offer. As they both got out of the car, Marcella heard a thud as something Peter had dropped hit the ground; he told her it was his wallet. Marcella then went behind a tree to urinate. Peter walked towards her and the next thing she felt was the blow of Peter's hammer as he brought it down upon the back of her head, then she felt the second blow. She lay back on the grass, looking at the blood on her hand from where she had touched her head. Peter stood nearby. She remembered vividly that his hair and beard were black and crinkly and that he was masturbating as he watched her bleeding on the ground. He went back to the white car with the red upholstery to get some tissues to clean himself up. When he finished, he threw the tissues on the ground and placed a 5-pound note in Marcella's hand, warning her not to call the police as he got back into his car.
Marcella, her clothes now covered in blood, managed to half walk, half crawl to a nearby telephone box where she called for an ambulance. As she sat on the floor and waited for help, she would see Peter drive past many times looking for her, probably to finish the job and rid himself of a vital witness.
The gaping wound in the back of her head required 52 stitches and a seven-day stay in hospital. For months after the attack she would hate men, barely able to even be in the same room with them. Even five years after the attack, she would still be plagued by depression and dizzy spells and be unable to hold down a job. The birth of her son Adrian coincided with Peter Sutcliffe's arrest in 1981, but neither event could ease the ache she had felt since her attack. She too wished she had died.
The attacks of the Yorkshire Ripper were by now the main topic of conversation among prostitutes and the patrons of the many pubs in the Leeds area. With little information in the papers about the nature of the murders, the public soon added their own horrific details, which were incredibly similar to the notorious crimes of Jack the Ripper in the previous century.
Prostitutes, in an attempt to protect themselves, were seen working in groups, making it very clear to their clients that the details of their car and registrations were being recorded. Increased police activity in the area put further pressure on the already strained relationship between the prostitutes and officers of the law, creating a formidable barrier to police investigations.
The fact that the attacks on Anna Rogulskyj and Olive Smelt had not yet been linked with the other Yorkshire Ripper murders resulted in a complacency in the general population who seemed to view prostitutes as somehow deserving of the Yorkshire Ripper's punishments.
During the summer of 1976, George Oldfield promoted Denis Hoban to the position of Deputy Head of the Force C.I.D. While honoured at the confidence shown in him by the appointment, he was disappointed that he would have to leave Leeds to work from the West Yorkshire Police Headquarters at Wakefield , nor was he happy to be desk-bound in his new position. Detective Chief Superintendent Jim Hobson replaced Hoban.
In October 1976, Peter Sutcliffe came home to his wife with the good news that he had finally found work as a lorry driver. He was now working with T & WH Clark (Holdings Ltd) on the Canal Road Industrial Estate, between Shipley and Bradford.
It would be five months before Peter would kill again. Jim Hobson would head the investigation into this attack, as his predecessor, Hoban had done nine months earlier when Marcella Claxton had survived Peter's last attack.
On Saturday 5 February, twenty-eight-year-old Irene Richardson left her rooming house in Cowper Street , Chapeltown at 11:30 pm to go to Tiffany's Club. At the time of her attack, Irene would have thought that life couldn't get any worse. Both of her daughters, aged four and five, were with foster parents. She had nowhere decent to live, and due to lack of money, had to walk the streets of Chapeltown to look for customers.
When Peter Sutcliffe had finished with Irene, he had left her lying face down in Soldier's Field, placing her coat over her inert and bloodied body. He had given her a massive fracture of the skull with the three blows he inflicted with his hammer. One of the blows had been so severe that a circular piece of her skull had actually penetrated her brain. He had stabbed her in the neck and throat, and three more times in the stomach, savage downward strokes so severe that they had caused her intestines to spill out.
When Hobson and the pathologist, Professor Gee, removed her coat, they found that while her bra was still in place, her skirt had been lifted up and her tights pulled off the right leg and down. One of the two pairs of pants she had been wearing had been removed and stuffed down her tights, while the other pair were still in place. Her calf-length brown boots had been removed and placed neatly over her thighs. A vaginal swab showed the presence of semen but it was considered to have been from sexual activity prior to the attack.
Near Irene's body tyre tracks were discovered and recorded. They indicated that the killer had used a medium sized sedan or van. Checks with tyre manufacturers established that the vehicle had been fitted with two "India Autoway" tyres and a "Pnemant" brand on the rear offside, all of them cross-ply. With the assistance of tyre manufacturers a list of 26 possible car models was drawn up. It seemed that a genuine break had finally been made in the investigation, but Hobson's elation would be short lived. Police officers, without the benefits of computerisation, had moved into local vehicle taxation offices each night to hand check all the vehicles in West Yorkshire compatible with the list. The final tally was 100,000 cars.
Patricia Atkinson was living alone again after her divorce from Asian immigrant worker, Ray Mitra. After the birth of their three daughters, Judy, Jill and Lisa in quick succession, Ray would find his marriage to his wayward western wife to be more than he could handle. Patricia, who preferred to be known as Tina, was happy with the new arrangement as she was now free to drink and dance as often as she pleased. She operated as a prostitute from her small flat at number nine Oak Avenue in Bradford where she felt safe from the threat of the Ripper who killed his women outside. Being slim with dark-hair and always smartly dressed, she had no shortage of men friends.
On Saturday 23 April, she was seen by the caretaker of the building in which she lived, leaving her flat on her way to the busy red-light pubs where she was well known for her heavy drinking. She was seen in a number of the pubs that night, and at eleven p.m., several women working on the street had seen her walking, heading toward Church Street . It was soon after this that Peter Sutcliffe had met the now well-intoxicated Tina. Together they walked to his car, and then drove back to her flat. As they entered through her front door, Peter struck the back of her head with the same ball-pein hammer he had used on all of his previous victims. Before her unconscious body hit the floor, Peter struck her three more times.
As the blood poured from her wounds, Peter began to remove her overcoat. He then lifted her and carried her to the bedroom and threw her down on the bed. There he ripped open her black leather jacket and blue shirt. Pulling up her bra to reveal her breasts, he then pulled her jeans down to her ankles. With a chisel he had removed from his pocket, he began to stab at Tina's exposed stomach. He turned her over and stabbed her in the back but had not penetrated the skin. Then he quickly turned her over again to stab her stomach again leaving a total of six stab wounds. Before he left her, Peter had pulled her jeans back up and, without realising it, he left a size 7 Dunlop Warwick wellington boot print on the bottom bed sheet.
As Peter's activities as the notorious Yorkshire Ripper continued to escalate, his wife Sonia was approaching the end of her teacher training, she was confidant that she would pass before the coming summer. With the prospect of an increase in their income, Peter and Sonia began to see hope for the fulfilment of their dream to buy their own home. It would not be long before Sonia found the house of her dreams - number 6 Garden Lane , Bradford. Peter was not so sure it was his dream home when Sonia told him that the asking price was over £15,000. It was a lot of money and there was no guarantee that Sonia would get work straight away after the summer break, but he agreed to at least have a look at it. They went on a Saturday 25 June 1977.
On the same night, Peter went to Chapeltown, supposedly for a drink.
Jayne MacDonald also went out that Saturday night. Jayne was sixteen years old and had recently started her first job in the shoe department of a local supermarket. She was going out dancing and she was happy. She kissed her father good-bye before she left their home in Reginald Terrace, Chapeltown for the last time. After the dance, Jayne had gone with friends to buy chips in the city centre. As she gossiped with her friends the last bus home departed without her.
At 11:50 pm, she began walking home with Mark Jones, a young boy she had met earlier that night. He was to organise a lift home for her with his sister, but the sister wasn't home when they got there. Jayne and Mark continued walking together, stopping for a brief kiss and cuddle, as far as the Florence Nightingale Public House. It was one thirty when they went their separate ways. At a kiosk near Dock Green Pub near the corner of Beckett Street , Jayne stopped at 1:45 am to call a taxi, but there was no answer. As she approached the playground, she did not see Peter Sutcliffe lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce on her as she passed by.
Two children found her body at 9:45 am on Sunday 26 June near a wall inside the playground where Peter had dragged her. She was lying face down, her skirt was disarranged and her white halter-neck top was pulled up to expose her breasts. Peter had struck her three times on the back of the head with his hammer and then stabbed her repeatedly in the chest and once in the back.
From the moment Wilfred MacDonald, Jayne's father, was told of his daughter's murder by the two uniformed police officers who had come to his door that Sunday morning, he lost the will to live. He soon developed nervous asthma and could not work. Instead, he would sit for hours at a time thinking only of his daughter. It would take two years, but he finally died of a broken heart.
Assistant Chief Constable, George Oldfield was called soon after Jane's body was found. He would now be overseeing all of the investigations into the Yorkshire Ripper murders and would work in the field with the officers already involved in the case.
Newspaper reports the following day, stating that an "innocent young woman has been slaughtered," sadly reflected the underlying attitude of police and the public that prositutes who are murdered are not innocent, and somehow deserve whatever "punishment" that is meted out to them.
Police were now inundated with information from the public. People who once were interested only in hearing the gory details of the attacks, now felt personally affronted and threatened by the man they called the Yorkshire Ripper. Where previously, witnesses were reluctant to admit any connection with the murdered prostitutes, people from the surrounding area were readily volunteering information to help the police in their attempts to catch Jayne's killer.
Under the direction of Oldfield, police policy regarding the media was to become more open, working co-operatively to ensure that the public were kept informed of the facts that it needed while suppressing the release of information which would hinder police investigations. Oldfield personally visited members of every level of the community in an attempt to break down barriers to public/police co-operation.
Officers involved in the investigation into the brutal murder of Jayne MacDonald interviewed residents in 679 homes in the immediate vicinity of the attack, over thirteen thousand interviews in total, with nearly 4000 statements taken. Despite all of these efforts, Peter Sutcliffe was able to continue to hide behind his mask of respectability and the Yorkshire Ripper continued his rampage.
Even while the police worked feverishly gathering information in relation to Jayne MacDonald's murder, Peter Sutcliffe prepared to kill again. It was Saturday night 9 July 1977 when Peter left Sonia at home in Tanton Crescent with her parents. Driving the white Corsair with the black roof, he headed for Manningham Lane and the red-light Lumb Lane district of Bradford.
Maureen Long, at home in Farsley, near Leeds, also made preparations to spend Saturday night in Bradford . She spent the first part of the evening visiting various pubs in Bradford , including one where she met her estranged husband and made arrangements to spend the night at his home in Laisterdyke, Bradford. The rest of the evening was spent at Tiffany's, in the Bali Hai discotheque, where she danced and drank until just after 2.00am.
As she waited in the long queue at a nearby taxi rank to get a lift to her husband's home, a white car pulled up. The driver, Peter Sutcliffe, offered her a lift. Peter drove Maureen to Bowling Back Lane where he struck her a massive blow to the back of the head. As she lay on the ground, he stabbed her in the abdomen and back. The barking of a dog nearby interrupted his frenzied attack and he left Maureen for dead as he fled the scene. His car was seen leaving the area by a nightwatchman who was working nearby, at 3:27 am. He described the car as a Ford Cortina Mark II, white with a black roof.
Two women living in a nearby caravan found Maureen the next morning. They had heard cries for help, went to investigate and found Maureen Long lying seriously injured on the ground. She should have been dead. The injuries she sustained would have killed most people, but somehow Maureen survived.
She was rushed to hospital in Bradford where she underwent emergency surgery. Later she was transferred to Leeds for major neurological surgery. Oldfield begged doctors for an opportunity to talk with Maureen before they commenced surgery. Maureen tried hard to recall as many details as she could. She remembered leaving Tiffany's and the car that had stopped to give her a lift.
The man, as she recalled, was white, with a large build, about thirty-five with light brown, shoulder-length hair; he would have been about six foot, with puffed cheeks and big hands. She wasn't sure about the colour of the car, it was white or yellow, or blue. She would not remember anything when she came out of surgery.
It would be six weeks before Maureen could leave hospital, only to spend a further three weeks in a convalescent home, before returning home. All she had to live on was her thirteen-pound-a week social security payment. In 1978, she appeared in the Bradford Magistrates Court, charged with stealing from three shops in the city centre. She told the court that she was waiting for compensation for the attack, having only received £300. She was fined seventy-five pounds.
In April 1979, the Criminal Compensation Board offered her £1500. She appealed. She was later awarded £1250 as an interim payment, while her case would be held under medical review. To help make ends meet, Maureen sometimes received payment for interviews about the attack.
While Maureen recuperated in hospital, the police investigation began. Detectives set up interview rooms at Tiffany's nightclub in an attempt to glean as much information as they could from the patrons who had been there the week before. The investigation into the attack on Maureen Long would involve 304 officers working full-time. They interviewed 175,000 people, took 12,500 statements and checked 10,000 vehicles. The nightwatchman's description of the killer's car as a white Ford Cortina Mark II matched the thousands of cars used by taxi-drivers in the area.
Police had already contemplated the possibility of the killer being a taxi driver. He would have a good knowledge of the area, enabling him to know the best haunts for prostitutes and the quiet, secluded areas that he could take them to. They had started questioning taxi drivers after Tina Atkinson's murder and now they increased that line of investigation.
Most were quickly cleared, but one taxi driver, Terry Hawkshaw was not. The police were not completely satisfied with his explanations about his whereabouts on the nights of the murders. He lived alone with his mother in a central location to all of the killings. He was thirty-six years old and his appearance fitted the general description of the killer.
Terry Hawkshaw was placed under surveillance twenty-four hours a day. Police followed him as he drove his taxi and drank at local pubs. Armed with a search warrant, they entered his home, searching it from top to bottom, including dustbins and his uncle's tool shed. They removed all of his clothing from his home, cut locks from his hair and took blood samples. They even took the carpets from his car.
He was taken in for questioning a number of times. On one such occasion, he was held from eight o'clock in the evening until eight o'clock the following morning. Meanwhile the real killer continued to elude police and drove freely through the streets of Yorkshire looking for his next quarry.
For Peter and Sonia Sutcliffe, life was really beginning to improve. On August 18 1977, they had exchanged contracts for the purchase of their lovely new home and Sonia began her first teaching position at Holmfield First School in Bradford two weeks later. Then on Monday 26, they moved into their home and Peter bought himself another second hand Ford Corsair, a red one to replace the white Corsair he had sold on 31 August.
The following Saturday, 1 October 1977, after spending the day working on his new car, he decided to take it out for a test drive. By 9:30 pm, Jean Bernadette Jordan was climbing into the car with him near her home in Moss Side, Manchester . Jean, born in Scotland, had moved to Manchester after running away from home at the age of sixteen. She had met Alan Royle on the day of her arrival and moved in with him. Two years later they had their first child, Alan. Two years after that, their second son James was born. Although they were still living together when she was murdered, they had mutually agreed to live separate lives.
Earlier on the evening of 1 October, as Jean poured Alan a glass of lemonade, he told her that he would be going out for the evening. He left her watching television but she was gone when he returned later. He assumed that she had decided to go out with her girlfriends who were also "on the game."
Instead she had taken Peter Sutcliffe to a quiet area of vacant land between allotments and the Southern Cemetery where she was to have sexual intercourse with him for £5. Before getting out of the car, she put the £5note in a hidden compartment of her handbag. Once out of the car, Peter used his hammer to hit Jean over the head a total of thirteen times. He then hid her body in undergrowth near the fence between the cemetery and the allotments.
Peter, now fully recovered from the burst of frenzied anger, calmly drove home across the Pennines to Sonia and his new house, and anxiously awaited the headlines that would announce his deed to the world. As he and Sonia planned the house-warming party to be held on Sunday evening, Peter began to worry about the £5 note he had given Jean. It was a brand new note and it may be possible to trace it back to him. By Sunday 9 October, there still had been no word of the discovery of Jean's body in the papers. If he was at all troubled by the events of the week before, his party guests could not tell. It was almost midnight when Peter offered to take some of his relatives home in the red Corsair, while Sonia went to bed.
After dropping his guests at their homes, Peter did not immediately return to Garden Lane , instead he drove over the Pennines once again. He found Jean's body exactly as he had left it, but her handbag was missing. As he searched the area, he became frantic at the prospect of the police finding the £5 note. When his frustration and fury was at its peak, he dragged the lifeless and already rotting body away from its hiding place. He tore Jean's clothes from her body, and then stabbed her over and over again. Eighteen times he stabbed at her breasts, chest, stomach and vagina. They were fierce slashing swipes, some 8 inches deep. One extended from her left shoulder down to her right knee. When the rage subsided, he thought again of the £5 note, and attempted to cut off Jean's head. His intention was to divert police attention by disposing of her head somewhere else. When he realised that it was an impossible task with the tools he had, he gave up and went home.
It hadn't occurred to Alan to report Jean as missing. She had often just taken off from home without notice to visit relatives in Scotland , so he assumed that it was the same this time and that Jean would turn up in her own good time. It wasn't until he read the report in the paper on the evening of 10 October that he became concerned.
The report described the young woman, who had been found by a neighbour at midday, as having shoulder-length auburn hair and listed some of the clothing found. What the report didn't say was that her blackened head was unrecognisable. It had been flattened with the severity of the many blows she had received. Her belly was gaping open and putrefaction was evident.
At the Manchester C.I.D. Headquarters, Alan showed Det. Chief Supt. Jack Ridgeway a recent photo of Jean, but it was impossible for Ridgeway to tell if it was the same woman that he had seen earlier that day. Reluctant to subject Alan to the sight of Jean's mutilated body, Ridgeway suggested that there might be something in the house that would have Jean's fingerprints on it. Alan immediately remembered the lemonade bottle that was still sitting where Jean had placed it over a week before. The prints on the bottle were a definite match with those of the corpse.
A friend of Jean's, Anna Holt, had also gone to the police after reading the report in the paper. She insisted on seeing the body and positively identified her as Jean Jordan. Anna told police that Jean had only recently decided to give up "the game" and settle down with Alan and the children to lead a decent home life.
Alan was devastated by the tragedy and would lose his job as a chef because he found it impossible to concentrate on his work. Thoughts of Jean and how she died would constantly torment him. Their son Alan, considered a bright boy before his mother's murder, was retarded by the trauma of the ensuing months. By his fifth year he was still only able to speak a few monosyllabic words.
On Saturday 15 October, Jean Jordan's handbag was found only 100 yards from where her body had lain the week before. The money that Alan believed she'd been carrying was missing, but in a hidden pocket at the front of the bag, police found a five-pound Bank of England note. The note, with the serial number AW51 121565 was brand new, issued only a couple of days before Jean was killed. The Bank of England established that the note was part of a consignment sent to the Shipley and Bingley branches of the Midland Bank, right in the heart of the Yorkshire Ripper area.
Ridgeway was confidant that the Yorkshire Ripper could be found if they could trace the owner of the five-pound note. With this aim in mind, Ridgeway, along with thirty handpicked Manchester officers, travelled to Bradford and opened a special incident room at the Baildon School .
It was quickly established that the note in question had been part of a bundle of five hundred pounds and had been the fifth last note in a sequence of sixty-nine. Ridgeway's excitement soon abated when he learned that the note had been part of a batch of £17,500 pounds, which had been distributed to a number of firms in the Bradford and Shipley area that employed almost 8,000 men in total.
It would take Ridgeway and his men three months to interview 5000 of those men. One of the firms they had concentrated on was T & WH Clark (Holdings Ltd) in Canal Road , Shipley. Just before Christmas, they interviewed the men that worked there, including Peter William Sutcliffe of Garden Lane , Heaton. There had been nothing about Peter, or the other 5000 men, that had seemed suspicious. They had even spoken to his wife, Sonia, who had not contradicted in any way Peter's account of the nights they asked him about.
Even as the police were interviewing those 8000 men, one of them, the Yorkshire Ripper struck again, but this time he would leave his victim to provide a strong identification of him and his car. It had started on 14 December when Marilyn Moore left a friend's home in Gathorne Terrace, near the Gaiety pub at 8.00pm. As she walked along Gipton Avenue towards her home, she noticed a dark coloured car drive slowly toward her. Sure that the driver was a potential client, she began to walk to Leopold Street where she assumed his car would next appear.
Her assumption proved correct when she found his car parked near a junction known as Frankland Place. The driver was leaning against the driver's door. He was about thirty, stocky build, around 5'6" tall with dark, wavy hair and a beard. He was wearing a yellow shirt, a navy blue/black zip-up anorak and blue jeans, and appeared to be waving to someone in a nearby house.
He asked her if she was "doing business" and they set a price before she got into the car with him. As he drove her to a vacant lot in Scott Hall Street , about a mile and a half away, he told her that his name was Dave and that the person he had been waving to was his girlfriend. When they arrived at their destination, "Dave" suggested that they have sex in the back seat, but when Marilyn got out of the car she found that the back door was locked. As "Dave" came behind her to open the door, Marilyn felt a searing, sickening blow on the top of her head. She screamed loudly and attempted to protect her head with her hands. As she fell to the ground, frantically grabbing her attacker's trousers as she fell, she felt further blows before losing consciousness.
A dog barked at the sound of Marilyn's screams and "Dave" left before he could finish "the job." Marilyn remembered hearing him walk back to his car and slam the door, and then she heard the back wheels skid as he hurriedly drove away. Slowly, Marilyn managed to get herself to her feet and stumbled towards a telephone. Before she could, a man and woman, noticing the blood running from her head, stopped to help and called an ambulance.
She was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary for an emergency operation. She would stay there until just before New Year's Eve, but it would be a long time before she could face returning to Leeds . Back in Leeds again where she returned to work as a prostitute, she continued to suffer from depression. She still has a hole in the back of her head and scars all over her scalp.
There was no doubt in the minds of the investigators that Marilyn was another of the Yorkshire Ripper's victims. This was confirmed when the tyre tracks left by his car were found to match those found at the site of Irene Richardson's death. Despite this new evidence, the hunt for the Ripper continued without success until the third week of January 1978, when Ridgeway pulled his team out of Bradford , knowing that they had probably met the killer and failed to recognised him.
By the end of January 1978, police were beginning to wonder whether the Ripper had been scared off by his unsuccessful attack on Marilyn Moore. What they did not know at the time was that he had in fact killed again on the night of 21 January, but the severely mutilated body of Yvonne Pearson would not be found until the end of March. Any hopes police may have had were soon put to an end in the first week in February, when another of the Yorkshire Ripper's victims was found.
Helen and Rita Rytka were the twin daughters of an Italian mother and Jamaican father. At the age of eighteen, when Helen was killed, they lived together in a miserable room next to a motorway flyover in Huddersfield . Although they both worked as prostitutes, they had dreams of a much better life in the future.
In the meantime they would continue to work the streets of Huddersfield red-light district as a pair. To ensure each other's safety, Helen and Rita agreed that they would always take the car number of every client and meet back at an appointed time after twenty minutes, a system which had worked well for them until the snowy night of Tuesday 31 January 1978.
Helen came back to the rendezvous point five minutes earlier than Rita at 9.25pm. The opportunity to make an extra £5 before her sister returned was too good to miss, so Helen got into the car with Peter Sutcliffe. They drove to Garrard's timber yard near the railway, a common haunt of prostitutes and their clients.
Peter convinced her to get into the back seat, as she did so, Peter struck her with the hammer. He missed and hit the car door instead, alerting Helen to the danger she was in, but before she had a chance to scream he had hit her again. She immediately crumpled to the ground. It was then that Peter realised they were in full view of two taxi drivers who stood talking nearby. Taking Helen by the hair, he dragged her to the back of the woodyard. Still alive, Helen vainly attempted to protect herself from the hammer as Peter crashed it down onto her head again.
Scared that the taxi drivers would discover them, Peter lay on top of Helen and covered her mouth with his hand, then had sex with her as she lay bleeding. Finally, the taxi drivers left and Peter got up to find his hammer, which he had dropped. While he searched, Helen attempted to escape. As she ran from him, Peter hit her several more times on the back of her head. Still alive, Helen was dragged to the front of the car where Peter stabbed her through the heart and lungs with a kitchen knife he had hidden in his car.
Rita arrived back at the rendezvous point only five minutes after Helen had driven to her death. After waiting for some time in the freezing cold, she gave up and went home, assuming that Helen would be waiting for her there. Fear of the police prevented her from reporting Helen's disappearance until Thursday. On Friday 3 February, a police Alsatian dog located Helen's body where by Peter Sutcliffe had left her on the previous Tuesday.
On 10 March 1978, George Oldfield received another letter in which the writer claimed to be the Yorkshire Ripper, again it was post marked as being sent from Sunderland . The murder of Joan Harrison was again mentioned and he promised that the next victim would be old.
Uncertainty about the validity of the letter increased when the body of Yvonne Pearson was found on 26 March 1978. If the letter had been from the murderer, why did he not mention Yvonne's murder, which had occurred two months earlier? A fact that only the murderer could have known, unless of course, the Ripper had not really killed Yvonne.
She had been found on wasteland off Lumb Lane in Bradford by a passer-by who had noticed her arm sticking out from under an old sofa that had been dumped there long ago. The fact that she had been bludgeoned with a large blunt instrument, presumed to have been a rock, caused police to wonder. This was not the Ripper's usual method, but many of the other characteristics of this murder were similar to the other deaths.
Yvonne Pearson, had left her two girls, aged two years and five months, in the care of a babysitter on the night of 21 January 1978, to see if she could earn some money. Her first stop that night had been the Flying Dutchman Pub, which she was seen leaving at 9:30 pm. Soon after that, Peter Sutcliffe invited her to get into his car to do "some business."
At the murder site, he hit her repeatedly on the head with a lump hammer. When she was dead, he hid her body under the sofa and jumped on her chest until her ribs had broken. Fear of discovery by people in the area had cut short his time with Yvonne and he had not stabbed her. A newspaper, dated one month after her death, was placed under her body leading police to believe that the killer had returned to the scene of the crime.
It would be another two months before Peter Sutcliffe would kill again. His next victim was 41-year-old Vera Millward, an older woman, just as the letter from the man calling himself the Yorkshire Ripper had promised.
Vera Millward, a Spanish-born mother of seven, had been living with her Jamaican boyfriend, Cy Burkett, in their flat in Greenham Avenue , Hulme, at the time of her death. Vera had been very ill after an operation, the third in as many years. She left her home on Tuesday 16 May to buy some cigarettes and pick up some painkillers from the nearby hospital. Sometime after purchasing her cigarettes, she met Peter Sutcliffe.
On the grounds of the Manchester Royal Infirmary, in a well lit area, Peter Sutcliffe struck Vera on the head three times, then undressing her in his usual manner, he slashed her so viciously across her stomach that her intestines spilled out. He also stabbed her repeatedly in the one wound on her back, just below the lower left ribs, and punctured her right eyelid, bruising her eye. Her screams for help were heard, and ignored by a man and his son entering the hospital at the time of her attack. People in this area were well accustomed to such cries in the night.
When he had finished with her, Peter dragged her body twelve feet away and dumped her by a chain-link fence, on a rubbish pile in a corner of the carpark. She was found at 8:10 am the following morning, lying on her right side, face down with her arms folded beneath her and her legs straight. Peter had placed her shoes neatly on her body. Tyre tracks were found nearby. They matched those left at the murder site of Irene Richardson and at the site where Marilyn Moore had been attacked.
Despite the number of murders and police warnings of the dangers, there was no visible reduction in the activities of prostitutes in the Yorkshire red-light districts. Although the women were scared, and many had contemplated giving the game up for a while, the reality of poverty, and threats of violence from their pimps soon drove them back onto the streets. Public cooperation in police investigations was minimal. Few who could have given information were willing to get involved and the rest of the community falsely assumed that they were not under threat.
Complacency in this case had always presented a problem for police investigating the Yorkshire Ripper case. The period of eleven months since Vera Millward's murder had caused the public to relax. Maybe he had stopped? A police psychologist had said that this might happen; the killer might just stop and never be heard from again. The police hoped that was the case.
During that eleven-month lapse, Peter Sutcliffe's mother had died. It was on 8 November 1978 that Kathleen Sutcliffe, who had suffered from angina for four years, had died of myocardial infarction and ischaemic heart disease at the age of 59. Her eldest son, who had always been closest to her, was grief stricken. He blamed his father for her death. John Sutcliffe had been guilty of many affairs during his years of marriage to Kathleen, which Peter felt had been responsible for his mother's illness.
Peter and Sonia had been living in their new home for over twelve months by this time and had spent a great deal of time working on improvements. Their neighbours considered them to be an unusual couple that kept very much to themselves. While Sonia spent much of her time working in the garden, Peter would constantly work on his cars. In this time, he had replaced the red Corsair with a metallic-grey Sunbeam Rapier.
At work, Peter was one of Clark 's most conscientious drivers who kept immaculate logs and repair records, but his workmates would see him as a bit of a loner who kept very much to himself and never showed any signs of violence, nor did he swear or speak crudely about sex or women. When police interviewed him again because his registration number had been noted in red-light areas, he was not noticeably concerned. He explained that driving to and from work regularly took him through those areas.
On 23 March 1979 George Oldfield received another letter, supposedly from the Yorkshire Ripper. Although many had doubted the authenticity of the first two letters, a reference made to a medical detail in the Vera Millward murder made them wonder. Saliva tests were taken on the envelope, and this time they achieved a result. Saliva taken from under the envelope flap indicated the rare blood group B, the same as that of Joan Harrison's killer. Forensic tests confirmed that all three of the letters were from the same source. The writer predicted that the next victim would be "an old slut" in Bradford or Liverpool .
This prediction was to prove incorrect when on Wednesday 4 April 1979, the killer struck again. Josephine Whitaker, a building-society clerk, had walked the short mile to her grandparents' home in Halifax to show them the new watch she had bought. Her grandmother had been out when she arrived, so she watched television with her grandfather to await her return at 11:00 pm. Tom and Mary Priestley always enjoyed their granddaughter's weekly Sunday visits, and had been pleasantly surprised by this extra mid-week visit. When Jo, as they called her, decided to go home, her grandparents tried to talk her into staying the night, but she preferred to go home. It was only a ten-minute walk, which she had taken many times before.
It was almost midnight by the time she reached Savile Park , an area of open grassland surrounded by well-lit roads. As she walked across the damp grass in the park, Peter Sutcliffe stopped her to ask the time. She looked toward the town clock in the distance and Peter took the hammer from his jacket, crashing it down on the young woman's head. As she lay on the grass, he hit her again, and then dragged her 30 feet back into the darkness, away from the road. He pulled her clothing back and stabbed her twenty-five times, into her breasts, stomach and thighs, even into her vagina. He left her lying like a bundle of rags. One of her tan shoes still lay at the roadside where his attack had begun. She had been almost in sight of her home when Peter had killed her.
The next morning, at 6:30 am, a woman waiting at the bus stop found her body and called the police. Soon after, Josephine's younger brother David set off for his early morning paper round. As he neared the park, he saw the police officers huddled around something lying on the ground.
Curiosity drew him closer to the scene where it became apparent what the men were looking at, and then he saw his sister's shoe lying near the roadside. In a panic he ran home, yelling to his mother as he came into the house. Josephine's mother ran upstairs to check her daughter's room. Josephine was not there. When she called the Halifax police, they were not able to put to rest her greatest fear.
The pathologist's report revealed that there had been traces of a mineral oil used in engineering shops in Josephine Whitaker's wounds. It was soon confirmed that the particles were similar to those found on one of the envelopes of the mysterious letters from Sunderland . The letters were seen as credible evidence that could lead toward the capture of the elusive Yorkshire Ripper.
On 16 April, George Oldfield announced that the, now daily, press conference would be held at 3:30 pm instead of 10:30 am. The press were ready for the announcement of an important break-through in the case. The police had already sent a team of four detectives to Sunderland who had begun visiting firms in the area to gather details of "Geordies" who had been to Yorkshire on the dates of the attacks. At the press conference, Oldfield announced the Geordie connection and asked firms in the West Yorkshire area to check their records of employees who had been sent to Sunderland during March 1978 and March 1979.
Two months later, when Oldfield received a cassette tape from the writer of the letters, the police would be sent on a wild goose chase as they searched for the killer with the Geordie accent. While police officials debated whether or not to go public with the tape, news of its arrival and contents were leaked to the press. The decision was made and a press conference, at which the tape was played, was called on Tuesday 26 June 1979.
The public response was enormous with 50,000 calls received by police, putting further strain on the already under-staffed West Yorkshire force. The incident room at Sunderland had to be expanded to 100 officers. By the end of the second day they had received 1000 calls and every lead was followed up and officers were still busy in August when Mr Stanley Ellis, a Leeds University voice expert, announced that the voice on the tape was from a village in Castletown.
A team of police officers were moved to Castletown where interviews were carried out in every home but to no avail. The men who were found to match the voice had alibis for the dates of the attacks, thus the natural conclusion should have been that the person who wrote the letters and sent the tape was not the Yorkshire Ripper. Instead, the police continued to propagate the belief in the minds of the public that the Yorkshire Ripper had a Geordie accent.
The strain of the investigation had taken its toll on George Oldfield, who suffered three heart attacks and was hospitalised at the end of July. He would not return to the investigation until the beginning of 1980.
By the end of August 1979, many officials were beginning to question the validity of the Geordie connection. The extent of the search for the writer of the letters would have been successful by now if he had, in fact, been the killer. The discrepancies in the details in the letters and the fact that the surviving victims had not recognised the voice on the tape were all valid reasons, in the minds of more and more of the police investigators, to dismiss the letters and tape altogether.
On the night of 1 September 1979, Barbara Janine Leach went to The Mannville Arms with five of her closest friends. Barbara was a student at Bradford University and lived with a group of students in a house in Grove Terrace, just across Great Horton Road from the University. She had decided not to go home to Kettering where her parents, Beryl and David Leach lived, so she could continue studying before the beginning of her third year of a Bachelor of Science degree. She had rung her mother earlier that day to wish her father a happy birthday and apologised for not sending him a card. She told her mother that she would be heading home on Monday to spend the week with them.
Also at The Mannville Arms that night was Peter Sutcliffe. He had seen Barbara from across the other side of the room and had watched her continuously. At closing time, 11:00 pm, he left and waited in his car outside. Barbara, along with her five friends, had stayed behind to help clean up and have a drink with the landlord Roy Evans. When they finally left at 12:45am, Peter was watching nearby as the group walked towards Great Horton Road . As they were about to turn left into Grove Terrace, Barbara decided to go for a walk and invited her friend, Paul Smith to join her. When he declined the offer, she asked him to wait up for her, as she didn't have a key, he agreed and they parted company.
As he watched Barbara walk down Great Horton Road alone, Peter started the car and drove down to Back Ash Grove where he parked the car. With hammer and knife in hand, he got out of the car and walked quickly along the alley way, knowing that Barbara would soon be walking past at the other end. He waited for her in the shadows of Ash Grove, listening to the echo of her boots on the pavement as she walked toward him. As she passed, he sprang, smashing the hammer into her head. It only took the one blow and she was dead.
Quickly, he dragged her lifeless body back into the shadows of the side entrance toward Back Ash Grove. In the yard behind number 13, he dropped her body and tore at her clothing, exposing her breasts, abdomen and underpants. He stabbed her eight times, then dragged her body near some rubbish bins and covered her with a piece of old carpet which lay near-by.
Paul Smith waited for Barbara for over an hour then, assuming that she had decided to join one of the many parties being held all over the area, went to bed. When she hadn't come home the next morning, he rang her parents and the police. A search began that same day and her body was found that afternoon. Professor Gee, the pathologist who had worked on all of the Yorkshire Ripper cases, believed that the knife used to stab Barbara was the same one used on Josephine Whittaker.
With the deaths of two victims that were not prostitutes in non-red light areas in a six month period, the West Yorkshire public were now interested in more than just gruesome stories about the Yorkshire Ripper. They wanted action. Why weren't the police doing something to stop this killer who had dared to threaten the lives of "decent women?
Police investigations were stepped up and a £1 million-publicity campaign was launched involving newspaper advertising and the posting of billboards, reminding the public of the killer with the Geordie accent. By now there were few people who would have ever suspected a bearded lorry driver with a Yorkshire accent living in Bradford , only a five-minute drive away form police headquarters.
On Thursday 13 September, West Yorkshire police issued a confidential eighteen-page report to all other forces. It outlined the sixteen known Ripper attacks and was intended to help police in the elimination of suspects. Along with detailed descriptions of all of the evidence pertaining to the case, including the letters and a transcript of the tape, there was a five-point list to be used for the purposes of elimination. It stated that any suspects could be eliminated if:
1. The man was not born between 1924 and 1959, only those between 20 and 55 years of age need be considered.
2. The man was obviously a coloured person.
3. His shoe size was nine or over.
4. His blood group was other than B, and most crucially
5. His accent was dissimilar to a North Eastern (Geordie) accent.
The report then described the three most common elements in all of the known cases as being:
1. The use of two weapons, a sharp instrument and an alleged one-and-a-quarter-pound ball-peen hammer.
2. The absence of sexual interference, and
3. The clothing moved to expose breasts and pubic region.
Officers in every region were asked to report any similar attacks in their areas, whether fatal or not.
Another important change in police procedure involved the use of a new computer program through the Police National Computer. By entering the makes and registration numbers of vehicles sighted in the areas of the attacks, the computer could chart precise flow patterns of individual vehicles. It was hoped that witness information of a particular car type in the area of an attack could be matched with vehicle registration numbers recorded in the area, and then cross-checked against other records. Through this process, they were able to eliminate 200,000 vehicles, including that which was driven by a lorry driver in Heaton who lived and worked in the area.
While the use of the computer enabled police to check and crosscheck information at enormous speed, saving thousands of man-hours, it also created an avalanche of new information that had to be checked. By the beginning of 1980, the police were faced with millions of facts, five million in the case of car registrations alone, and they were now swamped, barely able to keep up with the demand.
Since January 1979, when Jack Ridgeway and his men had left Bradford in their search for the owner of the £5 note found in Jean Jordan's handbag, they had returned many times to interview employees of firms like Clark's, where Peter Sutcliffe worked. Peter had been interviewed on a number of occasions, and his work mates had taken to calling him the Ripper because of the apparent police interest in him.
Even as late as 1980, Peter was never considered to be a strong suspect, despite the fact that he had a gap in his front teeth, his car had been spotted in red-light districts a number of times, his blood type was of the B group but not a secretor, he had the right boot size and his name was on the now dramatically shortened list of 300 possible recipients of the £5 note.
Inexplicably, none of the men interviewed at this time were given blood tests, nor were any men placed under surveillance or boot sizes checked. The overwhelming reason for why Peter Sutcliffe was not considered a suspect, even after a total of nine interviews with police, was that he had provided alibis verified by Sonia, and because he did not have a Geordie accent. A frightening indication of how greatly assumptions can prejudice an investigation such as this, limiting the outlook of the investigating officers to the point that they are able to miss vital clues.
In April 1979, Peter Sutcliffe had admitted to his workmates that he was having an affair with a young woman in a village near Glasgow , taking them all completely by surprise. He was the last person they would have ever expected to fool around, he had always talked of his marriage to Sonia in happy terms and never talked about women in a sexual way at all.
He had met Theresa Douglas at the Crown Bar in Holytown, 12 miles from Glasgow , when he made a delivery to the nearby General Motors plant. He returned regularly to the village and quickly won the hearts of Theresa and her family. Known to them as Peter Logan from Yorkshire, they considered him to be one of the nicest men they had ever met. He told the family that he lived alone in a large house in Yorkshire , had been married but was now divorced.
He spent many hours talking with Theresa and had at one time admitted to her that he had a potency problem and could not have children. He wrote romantic letters to Theresa, and gave her his father's address so Sonia would not find out. He had made such a good impression on Theresa and her family that they all laughed when he told them that he was the Yorkshire Ripper after Theresa's brother William said his eyes looked evil.
In April 1980, a year since he had met Theresa, Peter Sutcliffe was faced with the prospect of losing his licence and his job. There would be no more visits to Glasgow to see his girlfriend, and no more nights cruising the streets of Yorkshire looking for prey.
He had been out drinking and had decided while on his way home to make a detour through Manningham, a careless move considering the amount he had had to drink. Police, who noticed him driving in an erratic manner, stopped him. He was breathalysed, and then arrested. Soon he would have to go to court and would probably lose his license. He was nervous for a far more important reason than this. What if the arresting police were to find that he had been interviewed many times in the Yorkshire Ripper investigations? Would he be revealed as the killer, wanted in what had become known as the crime investigation of the century, all because of a lousy drink driving charge? It wouldn't happen this time, there were no cross checks done and he was soon free to go home.
If the prospect of losing his licence bothered him, he didn't show it. He told workmates that he and Sonia planned to move to the country and open a pottery business. They would use the proceeds from the sale of their house to finance the project as Sonia was a talented potter and they could make a decent living. Sonia, although concerned about the drop in income, looked forward to having her husband home with her at nights, it had been a lonely life with Peter working late and spending regular nights at pubs with his friends.
As Peter waited for his impending court appearance, due in January 1981, he attacked four women, killing two of them. The first attack occurred in the respectable suburb of Farsley, Leeds . His 47-year-old victim, Marguerite Walls, was a civil servant who worked at the Department of Education and Science at Farsley. She worked late on the night of 20 August 1980, as she had wanted to clear her desk before she started her vacation the next day. She left her office building at 10:30 pm to begin the short walk home, taking the longest but safest route along well-lit streets.
In New Street, as she walked past the entrance to a local magistrate's house, Peter Sutcliffe jumped out from behind the fence where he had waited for her and hit her on the head with his hammer. Marguerite did not fall to the ground as Peter expected her to, instead she began to scream, and a second blow to the head still did not stop her screaming as she held her now bleeding head. To stop her screaming, he grabbed her by the neck and strangled her. As he did so, he dragged her into the driveway and through the overgrown bushes of the property called Claremont .
By the time he reached the garage, deep in the garden, Marguerite was dead. He ripped at her clothes, tearing them from her and scattering them around the garden, his anger and frustration at his failure to bring his knife rose with him and could not be quelled as he rained blows on her body with his hammer. Before leaving her, he covered her body with leaves that had been left in a pile nearby. As he left the garden, he checked that the street was quiet before stepping out from the darkness, fifteen minutes later he was safely home.
When Marguerite was found the next morning, only four hundred yards from her home, it was soon determined that, although she had been bludgeoned with a hammer, her strangulation ruled her out as a victim of the notorious Yorkshire Ripper.
Headingley, home of one of the world's best cricket fields where World Series Test Cricket matches are played, was not the type of town anyone would have expected the Yorkshire Ripper to strike. There were no red-light districts. It was a suburb where students, teachers and media people chose to live for its cosmopolitan atmosphere. But it was here that Peter Sutcliffe attacked Dr Upadhya Bandara, visiting Leeds from her native Singapore as part of a World Health Organisation scholarship.
It was 24 September when Dr Bandara made the long walk home after visiting friends in Headingley. As she walked past the "Kentucky Fried Chicken" shop, she noticed a man inside. He was staring at her. She walked on past North Lane , and then turned right into St Michael's Lane. As she turned into Chapel Lane, an alley that cut through to Cardigan Road, she was hurled to the ground. Peter Sutcliffe slammed his hammer into her head rending her unconscious.
He held her around the neck with a ligature to prevent her escape. Upadhya Bandara lay bleeding on the ground as Peter picked up her shoes and handbag and took them several yards away. Before he could resume his attack, he heard footsteps and fled. The footsteps belonged to Mrs Valerie Nicholas whose house backed onto the laneway. She had heard noises at 10:30 pm and had gone out to investigate.
The police in Headingley did not believe that the Yorkshire Ripper had attacked Dr. Upadhya Bandara, despite the fact that she described her attacker as having black hair, a full beard and moustache. Dr. Bandara returned to Singapore to recover.
Peter Sutcliffe's next attack, on 5 November 1980 in Huddersfield , was also credited to an unknown attacker. Theresa Sykes, a sixteen-year-old who lived with her boyfriend and their three-month-old son, had been walking home across grassland not far from her home when Peter rained three hammer-blows to her head.
He had followed her from The Minstrel pub where she had dropped in to see her father, the owner, before he struck her from behind, with one of the blows so severe that it went through her skull. Theresa screamed as Peter struck her. Her boyfriend, Jimmy Furey, watched in horror from their lounge room window. Within seconds he was running toward Theresa, and Peter. When Peter saw Jimmy he ran back into the darkness of the night.
Theresa miraculously survived the brutal attack, but she was never the same again. After spending several weeks in the neurosurgical unit at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield , Theresa returned home but early in 1981, she left Jimmy and returned to live with her parents. Theresa was now afraid of men and, despite their plans to marry, she was even afraid of Jimmy. Her father, who always believed that the Yorkshire Ripper had been responsible for his daughter's attack, said that since the attack her whole personality had changed. Where she was once a happy girl she was now quick to flare up in anger over the smallest thing. Peter Sutcliffe had left his mark on yet another family.
On the night of 17 November 1980, Sonia resigned herself to yet another night alone watching television. Peter had called to tell her that he was still in Gloucester , making a delivery, and would not be home until late. What she would not find out until much later was that Peter was not working at all. He had clocked off from Clark 's at 7:03 pm and headed for Headingley where he had spent another evening only a couple of weeks earlier.
He again ate at the Kentucky Fried Chicken shop. As he sat looking out of the window at 9:23 pm, Jacqueline Hill alighted from the number 1 bus at the stop opposite the Arndale shopping arcade. She was returning home after attending a seminar on the probation service in Cookridge Street , Leeds . Jacqueline was a student at the University who had hoped to join the probation service when she graduated the following summer.
Peter Sutcliffe began to follow Jacqueline after she passed the Kentucky Fried Chicken shop. He was behind her as she entered the dimly lit Alma Road toward the Lupton Flats where she had recently moved. Her mother had been concerned about her living alone on the outskirts of town because of the Yorkshire Ripper attacks, so Jacqueline had decided to move to the all-girl flats in Lupton Court , which was part of a complex of university residences behind the Arndale Shopping Centre. Jacqueline was only 100 yards from her home when Peter Sutcliffe struck her on the back of the head.
He dragged the lifeless body of Jacqueline Hill fourteen yards onto some vacant land just behind the Arndale shops car park. Protected from view by trees and bushes, Peter stabbed her repeatedly. He stabbed her in the eye that had stared up at him accusingly as her tore at her clothes and slashed her naked body. When he had finished, he left her and headed for home. He forgot that Jacqueline's handbag and glasses still lay on the pavement in Alma Road where she had dropped them.
Only a short time after the attack, Amir Hussain, an Iranian student, found the bag as he walked home to Lupton Court . He took it home with him and showed it to his five flat mates, one of whom was an ex-chief inspector with the Hong Kong police, Tony Gosden. Tony became alarmed when he saw that nothing had been stolen from the bag and noticed fresh blood spots on the outside of it.
At 11:30 pm, one of the students called the police but it was some time before the two investigating officers arrived at the flat. It was only at the insistence of Mr. Hussain that the police finally agreed to search the area where he found the bag. The brief search by torchlight did not uncover Jacqueline's body and the police left.
A worker at the Arndale shops discovered Jacqueline the next morning at 10:10 am. She was lying less than thirty yards from where police had searched the previous night. Initially, police denied that the Yorkshire Ripper had struck again until Professor David Gee announced his findings. The Ripper had struck again for what the police wrongly believed to be the first time in fourteen months.
The attack was widely publicised with police requesting the assistance of anyone who had been in the area that night. They were especially interested in talking to the owner of a dark, square-shaped car, which had been seen reversing hurriedly down one-way Alma Road . The driver, understandably, did not come forward.
With Jacqueline's murder, the real threat of the Yorkshire Ripper was finally brought home to Britain 's middle-class. No longer was he just killing prostitutes in the seedy parts of town. "Innocent" women were now acutely aware of the danger to themselves, a danger that prostitutes had been living with for nearly five years. The feminists of Britain , who had previously complained about the police and media referring to non-prostitute victims as "innocent", were suddenly angry at the death of one of their own. They took to the streets in a violent protest against their loss of the right to walk their own streets safely.
The police were inundated with information from the public. Police in Leeds received 8000 letters, 7000 of which were anonymous. Most named suspects. One of those unsigned letters was from Trevor Birdsall. In it he named Peter Sutcliffe, a lorry-driver from Bradford . When police did still not question Peter two weeks later, Trevor entered the Bradford police headquarters, where he repeated his allegations to the constable on the reception desk. The report was fed into the system and Peter Sutcliffe continued to walk free.
Trevor had been suspicious of Peter for some time before he went to the police, even as far back as Olive Smelt's attack. But Peter was his friend whom he didn't think was capable of killing. The police insistence that the Yorkshire Ripper was from Sunderland and spoke with a Geordie accent had allayed Trevor's suspicions for a long time. When Trevor heard nothing more from police, he assumed that they had followed up with Peter and he had been wrong.
The task force responsible for the investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper murders was not aware of Trevor Birdsall's letter or his report. They had long been buried under the mountain of information that had been accumulated over the past five years. Since Jacqueline Hill's attack, George Oldfield was no longer in charge of the investigation; Jim Hobson had replaced him.
Hobson delivered a full-page message to the force in the December issue of the West Yorkshire police newspaper. In this message he asked that all police officers work toward the arrest of the Yorkshire Ripper, committing them to a plan of daily action towards such an outcome. His statement that, although the Yorkshire Ripper probably had a Geordie accent, police should not eliminate a possible suspect on those grounds was to prove a vital influence on the arrest of Peter Sutcliffe in January 1981.
Also in mid-December, Peter Sutcliffe made a trip to Sheffield , an area he had not before visited during his work as a long distance lorry driver. He had gone to the remote depot on the moor north of Sheffield to make a delivery. It should have been a short visit, but the Christmas rush had caused a backlog and Peter had spent most of the day there.
The depot manager remembered him well because, unlike most of the lorry drivers he knew, Peter had been softly spoken and well mannered. He did not swear or cuss when told of the delays, he merely passed the time chatting to some of the workers in the busy factory. It would be remembered later that he had asked about an area of vacant land close to Sheffield , which could be clearly seen from the heights of the depot. Peter noted how quiet it was in Sheffield .
Peter had been so impressed by Sheffield that he returned there again two weeks later on Friday 2 January 1981, but this time he was not driving his lorry and the delivery he intended to make was with his hammer on some woman's head. He left home for the last time at 4:00 pm that afternoon.
Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Reivers had left her two children, Louise 5 and Deroy 3 at home at six o'clock to meet up with her girlfriend Denise Hall, 19, to earn some money from passing "punters" in Sheffield 's red light district. It was 9:00 pm, only moments after the two young women had started patrolling along Wharncliffe Road , when Denise met her first potential client. He was driving a brown Rover 3500 and had pulled up to the kerb, but there had been something about his eyes that had disturbed her. Despite his good looks, with a neatly trimmed beard and dark wavy hair, he had frightened her so she declined his offer of £10.
An hour later the same Rover pulled up to the kerb again. When Olivia looked into Peter's eyes she did not see what her friend Denise saw. Taking him up on his offer of £10, Olivia climbed into the car. They drove a short distance to Melbourne Avenue and parked in the driveway of the British Iron and Steel Producers Association Headquarters. Olivia had often brought her customers up here where it was quiet and isolated, perfect for "business."
Peter Sutcliffe had been unable to become aroused, despite Olivia's many attempts, so they had sat and talked for a while, mostly about Peter. In his pocket were his ball-pein hammer, a piece of rope and a knife. He was just waiting for an opportunity to get the woman outside. While he waited, Sgt. Robert Ring and Constable Robert Hydes were driving along Melbourne Road as part of their general patrol. When they saw the dark Rover parked in the driveway, they had a pretty good idea why.
They pulled in behind the Rover and questioned the couple sitting in the car. He said his name was Peter Williams. The dusky woman said she was his girlfriend. Luckily for Olivia, Ring remembered her face, certain that she was a convicted prostitute with a suspended sentence. He told her to get into the police car. Peter Williams told them he needed to go to the toilet, and walked further along the dark driveway. Near the entrance to the building, there was an oil storage tank. It was behind this tank, well out of view of the policemen, that Peter placed his hammer and knife; he hoped they hadn't heard the sound they had made as he placed them on the ground near the wall.
As Peter made his way back to his car, Ring and Hydes had called into the station for a check on Peter's car registration number. Within seconds the operator at the end of the line had got the information they were looking for through a direct link to the Police National Computer at Hendon. The registration number on the brown Rover parked in front of them belonged to a Skoda. Both officers got out of the car and checked the plates on Peter's car, which were held on with black tape. When they checked, they learned the licence number was FHY 400K. Peter confirmed this and admitted that his real name was Peter William Sutcliffe and lived at Garden Lane , Heaton, Bradford. He had lied because he didn't want his wife to find out that he had been with a prostitute.
Back at the police station in Hammerton Road , Olivia and Peter were placed in separate interview rooms. Peter told them that he had stolen the plates from a car in a scrap yard in Cooper Bridge , which meant that Peter would have to be transferred to another jurisdiction, just as soon as they found out where Cooper Bridge was. After many calls, they found that Cooper Bridge fell under the jurisdiction of Dewsbury police headquarters. They were told an officer would be there in the morning after 6:00 am when Ring and Hydes finished their shift.
Sonia was called and told that her husband wouldn't be home that night and Peter was placed in a cell to sleep the night. Before retiring, Peter asked permission to go to the toilet. While he was there he placed a second knife in the cistern.
As the three officers from West Yorkshire drove toward Sheffield , an officer from the Dewsbury station rang the Incident Room in Milgarth, the base for the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry. It was a routine call made because of a recent directive from Hobson to all West Yorkshire police that any man found with prostitutes in suspicious circumstances was to be reported to the task force.
At 8.55, Peter Sutcliffe arrived at Dewsbury police station with the West Yorkshire police where he was transferred into the station's interview room. Just after 9:00 am Sonia called and was told that her husband was being interviewed in relation to the theft of car number plates. In the interview room, Peter Sutcliffe chatted with officers about his work as a lorry driver and his love of cars. They noted that he had dark frizzy hair, a beard and a gap between his teeth.
The officers were familiar with the five points of reference for the elimination of suspects in the Yorkshire Ripper case but were not fazed by the lack of Geordie accent. Peter Sutcliffe lived in Bradford in the heart of Ripper country and had told them that he had driven to Sunderland many times in his work as a lorry driver. The list of possible cars did not include the brown Rover that Peter was driving at the time of his arrest, but Peter had told them about his white Corsair with the black roof.
While being questioned by a detective, it was learned that police had questioned Peter Sutcliffe on a number of other occasions in relation to the Yorkshire Ripper case. He wore a size 8 shoe, maybe even a 7. Det. Sgt. Des O'Boyle, an officer of the task force and well versed with the Yorkshire Ripper case, had left for Dewsbury at lunchtime on Saturday 6 November to question Sutcliffe himself.
During the afternoon a blood test revealed that Peter Sutcliffe was of the rare B group. By 6:00 pm that night, while not totally convinced that Peter Sutcliffe was the Yorkshire Ripper, O'Boyle called into the Milgarth incident room and told his senior officer, Det. Insp. John Boyle, that he would not be clocking off but would stay with the case. At 10:00 pm Sutcliffe was locked in his cell and had gone to bed.
When Sgt. Ring returned to Hammerton Road police station to begin his 10:00 pm- 6:00 am shift, he was told that Sutcliffe was still being held at Dewsbury station and being questioned by Yorkshire Ripper squad officers. Ring would then make a decision which would have a momentous impact on the Yorkshire Ripper investigation. Sutcliffe had left his car to go to the toilet, maybe he had left something at the scene, he recalled hearing a clinking noise. Ring returned to the driveway on Melbourne Avenue to have a look around. When he shone his torch on the ground by the wall behind the oil storage tank, Ring found the ball-pein hammer and knife that Peter had cautiously left there the night before.
A Det. Supt. at Sheffield made a call to Det. Supt. Dick Holland at his home in Elland, near Huddersfield . Holland quickly suppressed the initial excitement he had felt when he was told that it looked like they may have finally caught the infamous Ripper. If it was their man, he wanted to be sure that they did everything right. Holland issued John Boyle with a number of instructions on how to proceed with the investigation and requested that he be briefed at 9:00 am the following morning at Bradford police headquarters.
At 9:30 on Sunday 4 January, Dick Holland, Sgt. O'Boyle, Det. Chief Inspector George Smith and Det. Constable Jenny Crawford-Brown arrived at number 6, Garden Lane where Sonia Sutcliffe told them that they could search the house. At 10:00 am they left, taking with them a number of tools, which included ball-pein hammers, and Sonia Sutcliffe, and returned to Bradford Police Headquarters where police questioned Sonia extensively for thirteen hours.
Dick Holland had sent Det. Sgt. Peter Smith of the Regional Crime Squad, who had been involved in the Ripper case longer than almost anyone else, to question Sutcliffe in Dewsbury. Throughout the morning, the investigating officers, without overtly mentioning the Ripper attacks, gleaned as many details of Sutcliffe's movements at the times of the attacks as possible. At the same time officers behind the scenes were working to gain as much information about Peter Sutcliffe's movements over the past five years as they could, including visits to past employers and making other enquiries in the Bradford area.
By early Sunday afternoon, Peter was beginning to lose the incredible calmness that he had shown throughout the 48-hour ordeal. The police were now sure that they had the right man. When questioned about his movements on the night of Theresa Sykes' attack on 5 November 1980, Sutcliffe told them that he was positive that he had arrived home by 8:00 pm. Sonia's recollection was different. She distinctly remembered Peter arriving home at 10:00 pm. Although no longer officially in charge of the investigation, George Oldfield was called and told of the news. He quickly made his way to Dewsbury where he was joined shortly afterwards by other senior officers from the task force.
At 2:40 pm, Peter Sutcliffe was told about the discovery of the hammer and knife as they continued to question him about the attack on Theresa Sykes. It was then that Peter Sutcliffe sat back in his chair and calmly admitted that he was the Yorkshire Ripper. The killer's mask had finally been removed and the most "known unknown man" was revealed. Over the next twenty-six hours, Peter Sutcliffe, calmly and with little display of emotion, told police officers the gruesome details of the last five years of death and mutilation. The only emotion he showed was when discussing the murder of 16-year-old Jayne MacDonald and when police questioned him regarding the murder of Joan Harrison, which he strongly denied.
After his confession, Peter Sutcliffe had one request of George Oldfield. He wanted to be the one to tell his wife Sonia. She was immediately driven from Bradford Police Headquarters to the Dewsbury station where George Oldfield met her before being taken to the interview room to see her husband. Sutcliffe sat at a small table across from Sonia as he calmly told her the shocking story. When Sonia emerged from the interview room, she appeared to be calm, not revealing what emotions she may have had hidden below the surface. Police would continue to question her about her husband's movements during the past five years, since the attack on Anna Rogulskyj in 1975.
After Sutcliffe's official statement had been recorded, a press conference was called. Eighty journalists packed the small room in which Ronald Gregory, George Oldfield and Jim Hobson sat smiling at the cameras while making the announcement that they believed they had finally caught the Yorkshire Ripper. The elation the police felt was reflected by the abandonment of established procedure in dealing with the press in such a situation. Although Sutcliffe's name was not actually stated, many details not normally revealed, usually omitted to protect a suspect's defence, were revealed to the public.
On Monday 5 January, when Peter Sutcliffe appeared in the magistrate's court in Dewsbury, the question that had plagued the British public for the past five years was answered. Everyone now knew the identity of the Yorkshire Ripper. The question as to why he had killed thirteen women and left seven more so brutalised that they would wish they too had died was answered on Tuesday 6 January.
Peter Sutcliffe told police that in 1967, at the age of twenty, he had heard the voice of God speak to him as he worked at Bingley cemetery. He would claim that he had first heard that voice while digging a grave. He stated that the voice had led him to a cross-shaped headstone upon which were written the Polish words JEGO, WEHBY and ECHO. It was this same voice that had ordered him to kill prostitutes. Police officials were satisfied that Peter Sutcliffe was mentally ill, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and should be incarcerated in an institution for the insane.
Mr. Justice Boreham was not as sure as the police, the psychiatrists, the prosecution and Sutcliffe's defence counsel. They had made their conclusions purely on the basis of what Sutcliffe had told them. It seemed very likely that Sutcliffe could be lying. Sutcliffe had been overheard telling his wife that he might be able to reduce his sentence to as little as ten years if he could convince everyone that he was mad. Boreham informed the Attorney General, Sir Michael Havers, of his decision that Peter Sutcliffe should go to trial before a jury of twelve members of the public. They would decide whether Peter Sutcliffe was mad or guilty of the crime of murder.
The trial would last fourteen days and it would take the six men and six women of the jury six hours to make their decision. Like the deliberations of any jury in a murder case, there was much discussion, but unlike in any other case, this jury did not discuss whether or not Peter William Sutcliffe had committed the crime of murder. It was the responsibility of this jury to determine the true mental state of Peter Sutcliffe. The prosecution had put before them the possibility that Sutcliffe had been lying when he told police about the voice of God, which had ordered him to kill. The defence, with the help of many psychiatrists, had attempted to prove that the story was true.
On Friday 22 May 1981, Peter Sutcliffe stood before the jury as the jury foreman declared the decision that Peter William Sutcliffe was guilty of thirteen counts of murder. Ten of these twelve men and women believed that Peter William Sutcliffe was not insane, but was in fact an evil and sadistic murderer.
Five years of terror and pain for so many women, their parents, relatives, friends and their thirty-six children came to a sudden end when Peter William Sutcliffe, the notorious Yorkshire Ripper was led away from the dock, showing no emotion, to begin his sentence of life imprisonment. Justice appeared to be served, but the scars would never heal for those who survived the carnage wrought by the hand of one man.
On May 9, 2001, the BBC broadcast taped prison conversations between Peter Sutcliffe and Diane Simpson, a graphologist. The program called "Dear Peter - Letters to the Yorkshire Ripper" examined the relationship that three women had with convicted serial killer Peter Sutcliffe. These three women have been in constant contact with Sutcliffe while he has been in Broadmoor hospital.
Sutcliffe was sent to Broadmoor after being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Even though Sutcliffe is a vicious predator of women, Sutcliffe gets some 30 letters a week from women.
The desperately lonely psychopathic serial killer is effusive in his kindness: "I won't let anybody down who visits me. I will always give them a really nice visit. I guess I'm a guy who needs friends."
The program also featured interviews with two women who were admirers of Sutcliffe's: Sandra Lester and Olive Curry.
The BBC reported that Lester had been writing to Sutcliffe since 1990. After reading about him, she wanted to "extend a Christian hand of support." The result of a year of letter writing was that she convinced herself that she was in love with him. However, with all the female attention Sutcliffe was getting, he was not about to limit himself. Consequently he refused to allow Lester visiting rights, telling prison authorities that he wanted to have many women friends.
The other woman in the BBC program was Olive Curry. Sutcliffe was kind enough to permit Curry to visit him. The BBC reported that Curry "believes he used to visit the Seaman's Mission Cafe in Sheffield where she worked before he was caught. Curry says she wanted him to reveal the identity of his companion, whom she believed could have been his accomplice. Curry told the BBC that Sutcliffe was always in the company of a man with a Wearside accent who she believes could have been his accomplice in many of the murders. Although Sutcliffe denies having been to the canteen, the pair have exchanged 500 letters."
Christine Morgan, who produced the program said: "Most people would express some surprise that anybody would like to write to him.
"There are elements of curiosity, grim fascination and excitement for these women.
"A lot of woman believe they can heal him.
"In all cases women have been disillusioned and dejected and played one off against another by him."
Why do women write to and fall in love with vicious sexual predators? Is this unusual and is Peter Sutcliffe unique? Why are women so attracted to bad boys?
Though many people find it hard to believe, it is very common for serial killers to have many women admirers professing love. To name just of few of the most heinous, Richard Ramirez known as the "Night Stalker," Doug Clark and Ken Bianchi of the "Hillside Stranglers" had numerous pen pals that adored them.
Peter Sutcliffe, the psychopath who is so expert in conning women, leads them on with phrases like "You are a breath of fresh air" and "I like this cloud nine thing with you."
Diane Simpson, a handwriting analyst from Cheshire , has invested hundreds of hours communicating with Sutcliffe over the past 10 years. She told the BBC that "she worked on the original manhunt and, still fascinated, wrote to him after his conviction. His letters piqued her interest by repeatedly hinting that he would confess to other crimes."
Newcastle University psychologist Dr. George Erdos explains this phenomenon, "for men like Sutcliffe, letter-writing not only fills the long boring days behind bars." Regarding the women, Dr. Erdos thinks that they are lonely or possibly "caught up in a religious fervor to forgive the unforgivable."
Professor Petruska Clarkson, a relationship psychotherapist, believes that "some may fantasize that a man like Sutcliffe may be the way he is because he has yet to be loved by the right person - and they may well be the one. This is certainly a way to feel special and unique.
"Villains capture the imagination. Human beings are interested in those who live by extremes since they often do what other, more ordinary mortals, cannot bear to think of themselves capable [of doing].
"People who kill women, particularly prostitutes, do it for reasons of inadequacy." They don't like women, or they're frightened of them. Being in prison, an all-male environment, means there's little chance to vent that aggression.
"This way, he can manipulate women by telling them how special they are, then cause grief by saying, 'You know you're not the only one'. It's a sadistic thing to do."
Professor Petruska Clarkson explains that convicts may also seek attention in this way because it's a basic human need to form bonds with others.