Notorious British Serial Killer Known as the 'Yorkshire Ripper' Dead at 74

Peter Sutcliffe reportedly succumbed to Covid-19 after refusing treatment.

November 13, 2020

Peter Sutcliffe [Universal History Archive/Getty]

Peter Sutcliffe [Universal History Archive/Getty]

By: Julien McNab

Peter Sutcliffe, known as the "Yorkshire Ripper," terrorized the north central English county of Yorkshire in the late 1970s, and would eventually be responsible for the murder of 13 women.

Sutcliffe's first victim, 28-year-old and mother-of-four Wilma McCann was bludgeoned with a hammer and repeatedly stabbed in Leeds in October 1975, less than a year after Sutcliffe was married.

Over the course of his 5-year spree Sutcliffe's MO was to use hammers, screwdrivers and knives to attack his victims, who ranged in age from 16 to 42. Seven of his targets managed to survive.

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Six of the women murdered by Peter Sutcliffe. Top left to right; Vera Millward, Jayne MacDonald, Josephine Whittaker and bottom left to right; Jean Royle, Helga Rytka and Barbara Leach. (Photo: Keystone/Getty Images)

Photo by: Keystone

Keystone

Six of the women murdered by Peter Sutcliffe. Top left to right; Vera Millward, Jayne MacDonald, Josephine Whittaker and bottom left to right; Jean Royle, Helga Rytka and Barbara Leach. (Photo: Keystone/Getty Images)

The Guardian reports that the investigation into the killings was mishandled, with Sutcliffe being questioned and released by investigators an incredible nine times. Sutcliffe was eventually stopped by police in his vehicle, accompanioed by a sex worker, for using stolen license plates. A search of his car yielded screwdrivers in the glove compartment, and Sutcliffe eventually confessed.

In an official statement released today West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable John Robins apologized for how the victims, many of them sex workers, were portrayed by the police during the investigation, while admitting to mistakes made by authorities during the investigation. Said Robins, "Those who died and were assaulted, as well as those relatives who are still suffering today, are at the forefront of our thoughts and our condolences... Failings and mistakes that were made are fully acknowledged and documented. We can say without doubt that the lessons learned from the Peter Sutcliffe enquiry have proved formative in shaping the investigation of serious and complex crime within modern day policing. West Yorkshire Police is committed to ensuring that those harmed by crime are at the heart of what we do.”

Read more: The Guardian, CNN

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