British serial killer the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ dies
One of Britain’s most notorious serial killers, “Yorkshire Ripper” Peter Sutcliffe, died on Friday aged 74, the government said.
Sutcliffe was convicted in 1981 of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven others in northern England after a reign of terror that is still seared on the public memory.
He received 20 life sentences and was ordered to serve at least 30 years in prison, but in 2010 a High Court judge ruled that he was never to be released.
Sutcliffe had tested positive for Covid-19 but according to British media reports this week had refused treatment.
No immediate cause of death was given.
The former truck driver, who was assessed to have had paranoid schizophrenia at the time of his crimes, had spent time after his sentence at a high-security psychiatric facility.
But he was transferred to a prison in northeast England after his mental state was deemed stable enough.
He had been attacked in jail, losing the sight in his left eye, and had underlying health conditions including heart trouble and diabetes linked to his ballooning size.
The hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper was one of Britain’s biggest-ever manhunts but police failings to catch him led to an overhaul of how criminal investigations are conducted.
A 1982 assessment into how police handled the case, only released in 2006, concluded Sutcliffe probably committed more crimes.
One former detective involved in the inquiry likened him to other notorious British killers such as “Moors Murderers” Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, who killed five children in the 1960s.
“I’ve walked with my dog this morning and people have said, ‘Good news, good riddance’, and that’s what a lot of people will be thinking about it,” Bob Bridgestock told BBC radio.
“It’s the victims that served the life sentence and then the victims’ families that really serve the true life sentence. For them today, they will have some kind of closure.”
Sutcliffe used lump hammers to bludgeon his victims and screwdrivers to mutilate them.
Marcella Claxton, who survived an attack by Sutcliffe 44 years ago, told Sky News she still felt the effects.
“I have to live with my injuries, 54 stitches in my head, back and front, plus I lost a baby, I was four months pregnant,” she said.
“I still get headaches, dizzy spells and black outs.”
The gruesome nature of Sutcliffe’s crimes earned comparisons to Jack the Ripper, who stalked the dark streets of east London in the late 19th century.
Police in the Sutcliffe case spent precious time and resources trying to find a man who called himself “Wearside Jack”, who claimed responsibility for the killings in tape recordings.
But the tapes were found to be a hoax. A former labourer who admitted sending them was jailed for eight years in 2006.
Sutcliffe himself evaded the police for years, despite being interviewed several times as part of the inquiry, due to a string of missed opportunities.
He was eventually arrested in 1981 by chance after police discovered he was using stolen number plates on his car and under questioning, he confessed to the murders.
The killings of sex workers and young women between 1975 and 1980 sparked widespread fear across Britain. Vigilante groups were formed and women were warned not to go out at night.
Richard McCann, whose mother Wilma was Sutcliffe’s first victim in October 1975, told Sky News he had “ruined so many lives”.
“He will go down as one of those figures from the 20th century in the same league, I suppose, as someone like Hitler,” he added
“It was never just a drunken fight, he went out there with tools and implements and he murdered people again and again and again and again,” he added.