Peter William Sutcliffe (born 2 June 1946 in Bingley, United Kingdom) is an English serial killer who was dubbed The Yorkshire Ripper. Sutcliffe was convicted in 1981 for murdering 13 women, and attacking several others. He is currently serving life imprisonment in Broadmoor Hospital. Sutcliffe began using the name Peter William Coonan at some point after his conviction.
As a Leeds milkman was driving down Harrogate Road, on the cold frosty morning of the 30 October 1975 he discovered a female body lying face up in the grass. Parts of her clothes had been pulled off and she had been stabbed 14 times in the chest and stomach.
The body had been identified as Wilma McCann, a 28-year-old prostitute who regularly hitch-hiked home. The post mortem showed that she was heavily intoxicated at the time. A pathologists report revealed that she had been attacked from behind, bashed in the head with two blows of a hammer, one of which shattered her skull.
The stab wounds were made on the body after it was dead suggesting the work of a sadist.
On the 20 January 1976 Emily Jackson and her husband went to the Gaiety public house on Roundhay Road in Leeds. The building was a meeting place for prostitutes and their clients. As Emily Jacksons husband took a seat and waited for her, she climbed into a Land Rover in the carpark. Mr Jackson waited for a while then assumed she'd probably take the whole night, so he went home in a taxi. The next morning a worker discovered the body of Emily Jackson, she was covered with a coat.
Like the other murder, clothing had been pulled off, showing the breasts which had been stabbed. The head had been bashed with two blows from a hammer. Overall the body had been stabbed 50 times on the neck, stomach and chest. Also her back had been gouged at with a phillips screwdriver. The police got their first piece of evidence as the killer had left the impression of his size seven wellington boot stamped onto the right thigh of Emily Jacksons body.
The police officially linked the two murders of Wilma McCann and Emily Jackson, because of the similaraties the way they were murdered, but the only clue the killer had left was the size seven footprint.
Around October 1976, Sutcliffe got a job as a lorry driver at T.& W.H. Clark.
A year past and on the 5 February 1977 the Yorkshire Ripper struck again. 28-year-old Irene Richardson left a half an hour before midnight to go to a disco, as usual she walked the way but never showed up. The next morning a jogger discovered her body near a sports pavilion.
It was the same as the others - head bashed in with a hammer three times, clothes torn off, and the neck and chest had been stabbed many times.
The police now knew that they had a serial killer stalking the streets, something not seen for a long time when Jack the Ripper struck in 1888. The press soon got details of the murders and gave the serial killer a name - The Yorkshire Ripper.
On the 23 April 1977 Patricia Atkinson, who was living alone in a small house in Bradford, went down to her local pub for a drink with her friends. After a while she decided to leave the pub and walk home. She was not seen all the next day but people thought she was just recovering from the night at the pub.
The next day friends visited and found that the door to the flat was unlocked so they entered. As they went in they saw her body on the bed, her clothes pulled off, she was stabbed seven times and the killer had slashed the left part of her body. It seemed that she had been attacked as she entered the flat, with four blows from a ball-pein hammer, then the killer dragged her dead body on her bed and proceeded to mutilate it. It was no doubt the Yorkshire Ripper - a size seven wellington boot print had been left on one of the bed sheets, the same as the one left at the crime scene of Emily Jacksons murder.
One Saturday night, 25 June 1977 Peter Sutcliffe went to a pub with his friends and at around 2.00 a.m he left for home. As he was driving down Chapeltown Road, Leeds, he spotted 16-year-old Jayne MacDonald walking down the road. Jayne MacDonalds body was found lying by a wall in a playground at 9.50 a.m. the same day, discovered by children. The body was similar to all the other victims after they had been attacked. The first thing that set Jayne MacDonald apart from the other victims was that she wasn't a prostitute.
By now the police were desperate. A woman who survived an attack by the ripper, Maureen Long described him as 6ft tall, around 30-40 years of age, with long hair. Only a few women had survived an attack by the Ripper and their descriptions differed. By this time a police detective with 31 years of experience, George Oldfield, had taken command of the Ripper investigation, he was very unhealthy and suffered from heart problems.
On the 1 October 1977 Jean Jordan accepted 5 pounds in advance and climbed into Sutcliffes car. They drove to some land allotments near the Southern Cemetery in Manchester. As they got out of the car Sutcliffe struck her 11 times with his hammer. He moved her body into some bushes and was just about to proceed to mutilate the body when he saw a car approaching and quickly left. There was one thing that Sutcliffe was worried about, the 5 pound note that he had given her, he knew the police might be able to track it back to his work where he got it from.
He had received the brand new note from his pay packet at his employer T.& W.H. Clark. After an eight day wait and no news that the body had turned up, Sutcliffe risked returning to body to find the 5 pound note. Sutcliffe searched, but could not find Jean Jordans handbag. Frustrated Sutcliffe attacked the body with a broken pane of glass attempting to remove his hammer blow signature. In the end Sutcliffe gave up and left.
The next day a passerby discovered the body and notified the police. They failed to identify her at first because her head was mutilated beyond recognition, but got her identity from fingerprinting and discovered she was Jean Jordan. She hadn't turned up on a missing list as her husband thought nothing of her disappearance.
The police found her handbag and upon further inspection discovered a secret pocket inside containing the new 5 pound note. The note, with the serial number of AW51 121565, was tracked through the bank to 30 possible companies, one of which was T.& W.H.Clark. The bank produced the names of 5,494 people who could of possibly received the note, one of these was Peter Sutcliffe. One month after Jordans death police went to Sutcliffes house and questioned him, they returned a week later and thought his alibi to be genuine.
By now prostitutes were scared, one system developed by 18-year-old Helen Rytka and her twin sister Rita was to take down the number of the car that the opposite twin went into and be back to a meeting place in 15 minutes exactly, that way they would be safe from the Ripper. On the 31 January 1978, Helen got to the meeting place 5 minutes early, when Peter Sutcliffe showed up. Helen Rytka probably thought the chance that he would be the Ripper would be one in a billion, so she climbed into his Ford and he drove to a timber yard near a railway line. Once there, Sutcliffe spotted 2 men in the timber yard and stalled so he had sex with Helen.
After they had gone and when Helen got out the back of the car to get to the front seat, Sutcliffe struck her with his hammer, killing her. He then mutilated the body and hid it under a nearby wood pile. Helen's twin, Rita, phoned police three days later and reluctantly told them of her missing sister. The reason she phoned police so late is that she thought she would be arrested for soliciting.
The police used tracker dogs to find the body, but found no other clues that would help catch the Ripper.
On the 26 March 1978, a person spotted a dead body in a red light district in Bradford. It was half hidden under an old abandoned sofa, the person was Yvonne Pearson. She had been killed ten days before Helen Rytka, also like with Jean Jordan, the killer had returned to the body to make it more visible. He also tried to tell police what the date of her death was by placing a newspaper under her arm. It was no doubt a Ripper victim.
At 8.10 a.m., 17 May 1978, a gardener found the mutilated body of 41-year-old Vera Millward on a rubbish pile next to a car park, she was the ninth Ripper Victim.
It had been about twelve months since the Yorkshire Ripper claimed his last vitim. The police were fearing that like the Jack the Ripper, the case would remain unsolved. It could be that the Yorkshire Ripper was incarcerated, had moved, or was dead, or unusually for most serial killers - he could of just retired. These claims were soon destroyed when he had claimed his tenth victim.
The tenth victim was 19-year-old Josephine Whitaker. Before midnight, on the 4 April 1979, just as she was crossing Saville Park, Halifax, she was spotted by Sutcliffe who was cruising for victims in his Ford. Her body was found early the next day, similar to all the other victims. Like Jayne MacDonald she wasn't a prositute, it was clear now that Sutcliffe would attack any women he saw walking the streets at night.
Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering the following 13 victims:
1. Wilma McCann ( Age 28 ): Killed on 30 October 1975. Body found at Prince Phillip Playing Fields, Leeds
2. Emily Jackson ( Age : 42 ) : Killed On 20 January 1976. Body found at Manor Street, Leeds
3.Irene Richardson ( Age : 28 ) : Killed On 5 February 1977. Body found at Roundhay Park, Leeds.
4. Patricia Atkinson ( Age : 32 ) : Killed On 23 April 1977. Body found at Flat 3, 9 Oak Avenue, Bradford.
5. Jayne MacDonald ( Age : 16 ) : Killed On 26 June 1977. Body found at Adventure playground, Reginald Street, Leeds.
6.Jean Jordan ( Age : 20 ) : Killed on 1 October 1977. Body found at Allotments next to Southern Cemetery, Manchester.
7.Yvonne Pearson ( Age : 21 ) : Killed On 21 January 1978. Body found at Under a disused sofa on waste ground off Arthington Street, Bradford.
8. Helen Rytka ( Age : 18 ) : Killed On 18 January 1978. Body found at Timber yard in Great Northern Street, Huddersfield.
9. Vera Millward ( Age : 40 ) : Killed on 16 May 1978. Body found at Grounds of Manchester Royal Infirmary.
10. Josephine Whitaker ( Age : 19 ) : killed on 4 April 1979. Body found at Savile Park, Halifax.
11. Barbara Leach ( Age : 20 ) : Killed on 20 September 1979. Body found at Back of 13 Ashgrove, Bradford .
12.Marguerite Walls ( Age : 47 ) : Killed on 20 August 1980. Body found at Garden of a house called "Claremont", New Street, Farsley, Leeds.
13. Jacqueline Hill ( Age : 20 ) : Killed On 17 November 1980. Body found at Waste ground off Alma Road, Headingley, Leeds.
Sutcliffe was the son of John and Kathleen Sutcliffe. Reportedly a loner at school, he left Silcoates School at the age of 15 and took a series of menial jobs, including two stints as a grave-digger during the 1960s. Sutcliffe worked at the factory of Baird Television Ltd. between November 1971 and April 1973 on the packaging line, but left when he was asked to go on the road as a salesman.
After leaving Baird's, 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. However, he was sacked for poor time-keeping on 5 March 1976.
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, between Shipley and Bradford.
Sutcliffe frequented prostitutes as a young man, and it has been speculated that a bad experience with one (during which he was allegedly conned out of money) helped fuel his violent hatred of women.
He first met Czech-born Sonia Szurma on St Valentine's Day in 1967 and they married on 10 August 1974. His wife suffered a number of miscarriages over the next few years, and eventually the couple were informed that she would not be able to have children.
Shortly after this she returned to a teacher-training course. When she completed the course in 1977 and began teaching, the couple used the extra money 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 for the murders in 1981.
THE notorious Yorkshire Ripper now has been classified low risk and recommended for release from a high-security psychiatric hospital, reports say.
Broadmoor Hospital’s doctors have told lawyers representing the Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who murdered 13 women and tried to kill seven others that he is no longer dangerous.
Peter Sutcliffe Now
According to a source close to Sutcliffe, the medics will support his bid to get out of Broadmoor as they believe he is effectively cured as long as he keeps taking his medication.
And if the Ministry of Justice, headed by Jack Straw, agrees with their verdict, he will be moved to a medium-security unit.
That means he would skip the high-security step of the mental hospital process and be given much more freedom.
He would then be allowed on to the streets to begin rehabilitation into society.
The source said: “If Jack Straw rubber-stamps it Peter will be packing his bags.”
Sutcliffe believed he was on a “mission from God” to kill prostitutes but not all of his victims were sex workers.
His 13 victims were list above with their images..
He was jailed in 1981 but transferred to Broadmoor in 1984 after being ruled mentally ill. He refused treatment until 1993, when the Mental Health Act Commission said it should be given forcibly.