By mutilating his 13 victims with a screwdriver, a hammer and a knife, Peter Sutcliffe became known as the “Yorkshire Ripper”.
Between 1975 and 1980, his killing spree plunged police in northern England into one of the largest manhunts of the 20th century.
Sutcliffe believed he was on a “mission from God” to kill prostitutes who were “polluting the streets” across West Yorkshire.
However, not all of his victims were sex workers.
After his arrest, Sutcliffe confessed to police that he was “a beast” driven by “a devil” inside him.
His rampage began on October 30, 1975 with the murder of 28-year-old Wilma McCann.
The mother-of-four had kissed her children goodnight and gone for a drink in the Chapeltown area of Leeds before stumbling home.
Sutcliffe was driving past in his lime green Ford Capri GT when he saw Wilma trying to hail a ride. He picked her up and they made their way to the nearby fields where she offered to have sex.
Instead, Sutcliffe hit her twice with a hammer before stabbing her 15 times in the neck, chest and stomach.
Wilma’s son Richard – whose eldest sister Sonia killed herself because of the nightmare – later said: “I absolutely forgive the murderer for killing his mother.”
“I used to be angry, but not anymore. It’s not there – I’m letting it go,” he added.
The Ripper’s next murder would be 42-year-old Emily Jackson.
Around Christmas 1975, she and her husband Syndey agreed to begin sex work to ease financial pressures.
Just a few weeks later, on January 20, 1976, she was standing with her husband outside the Gaiety Pub on Roundhay Road, Leeds, when Sutcliffe picked them up.
He drove her to an abandoned building where he hit her twice in the head with a hammer before stabbing her 52 times in the neck, breasts, lower abdomen and back.
However, Sutcliffe didn’t just murder sex workers.
Be The youngest victim was Jayne McDonalda 16-year-old salesman whom he killed on June 25, 1977.
She had been walking home through Leeds after a night out with friends when Sutcliffe hit her with a hammer and stabbed her to death at 2am.
Children found Jayne’s body in a playground the next morning with a broken bottle in her chest.
Sutcliffe also attempted to murder seven other people, including 14-year-old Tracy Browne, who he mistook for a prostitute, as she walked home near Silsden, West Yorkshire.
After spending about 30 minutes with her, he hit her over the head with a tree branch and only stopped when a passing motorist startled him.
He threw her over a barbed wire fence and fled.
The serial killer was finally caught in 1981 when he was stopped by police along with prostitute Olivia Reivers.
During questioning, the police found that he matched the physical characteristics of the wanted murderer.
When investigators returned to the scene of his arrest, they found a knife, rope and a hammer.
I used to be angry, but not anymore. It’s not there – I let it go
Victim Wilma McCann’s son Richard
After a trial, Sutcliffe was sentenced to twenty consecutive life sentences, which were commuted to life imprisonment in 2010
Sutcliffe spent almost 40 years imprisoned at Broadmoor.
He died in hospital from Covid in November 2020, aged 74.
The Yorkshire Ripper’s ashes were sent to his brother after his death and he posted them to two of Sutcliffe’s friends.
It is also believed that some fans of the serial killer received parts of the ashes.
Sutcliffe’s ashes were reportedly later buried in Yorkshire.
Neil Jackson, whose mother was killed by Sutcliffe, said of the dead serial killer: “They should take him to a hideout.”
THE VICTIMS OF THE YORKSHIRE RIPPER
- Wilma McCann, 28 years old and killed in October 1975
- Emily Jackson, 42 years old and killed in January 1976
- Irene Richardson, 28 years old and killed in February 1977
- Patricia Atkinson, 32 years old and killed in April 1977
- Jayne McDonald, 16 years old and killed in June 1977
- Jean Jordan, 21, Manchester, October 1977
- Yvonne Pearson, aged 22 and killed in January 1978
- Helen Rytka, 18 years old and killed in January 1978
- Vera Millward, 41 years old and killed in May 1978
- Josephine Whittaker, 19 years old and killed in May 1979
- Barbara Leach, 20 years old and killed in September 1979
- Marguerite Walls, 47 years old and killed in August 1980
- Jacqueline Hill, 20 years old and killed in November 1980