Peter Sutcliffe: who was Yorkshire Ripper, who were victims, and what unsolved crimes have been linked to him?
The story of The Yorkshire Ripper will be told in a new ITV documentary
Peter Sutcliffe, a.k.a. ‘The Yorkshire Ripper,’ on his wedding day, August 10, 1974. (Credit: Getty)
The Yorkshire Ripper is one of Britain’s most infamous serial killers.
The shocking story of the murderer gripped the nation during the early 1980s.
Now a new ITV documentary lifts the lid on the story and the investigation into the crimes of Peter Sutcliffe.
Since his conviction, there have been many unsolved crimes thought to be linked to him.
Here’s everything you need to know about The Yorkshire Ripper and who his victims were.
Who was the Yorkshire Ripper?
Peter Sutcliffe was born in Bingley, West Riding of Yorkshire on 2 June 1946.
Sutcliffe is known to have killed 13 women, and attacked another 10, while he worked as an HGV driver..
His attacks were between 1975 and 1981, mainly focusing on the Leeds area, while he also committed crimes in Bradford, Manchester, Halifax, Huddersfield, Keighley and Silsden.
He was caught by police in 1981 with a prostitute in his car, with officers finding fake licence places and weapons including a screwdriver and hammer in his boot.
Speaking to psychiatrists, he said that while working as a gravedigger in 1967, he heard a voice which told him that it was his mission to kill sex workers.
However, not all of his victims were in this line of work.
Police were criticised for their failure to find Sutcliffe earlier, after it was revealed that he had been interviewed nine times over the course of a five-year investigation without being charged.
Following a very high-profile trial at the Old Bailey, Sutcliffe was found guilty on all counts and was sentenced to 20 life sentences, which was later combined into a whole life order.
Who were Peter Sutcliffe’s victims?
From 1975 until 1981, Sutcliffe is known to have killed at least 13 women, although it is believed that this number could be higher as a result of unsolved cases.
His confirmed victims were:
- Wilma McCann, aged 28
- Emily Jackson, aged 42
- Irene Richardson, aged 28
- Patricia “Tina” Atkinson, aged 32
- Jayne MacDonald, aged 16
- Jean Jordan, aged 20
- Yvonne Pearson, aged 21
- Helen Rytka, aged 18
- Vera Millward, aged 40
- Josephine Whitaker, aged 19
- Barbara Leach, aged 20
- Marguerite Walls, aged 47
- Jacqueline Hill, aged 20
He also attacked at least 10 women from 1969 until 1980.
Is Peter Sutcliffe still alive?
While in custody at HMP Frankland in County Durham, Sutcliffe contracted Covid-19 at the age of 74.
The convicted criminal was transferred to University Hospital of North Durham due to complications from the illness.
He has also suffered a recent heart attack and had a number of underlying health problems such as obesity and diabetes.
On 13 November 2020, he died in hospital.
What is The Yorkshire Ripper: The Secret Murders about?
The brand new ITV documentary will take a look at more than 20 unsolved murders and attempted murders that are thought to be linked to The Yorkshire Ripper.
Many of the methods are believed to share a resemblance to the way Sutcliffe carried out his attacks.
This includes the killing of Carol Wilkinson in 1977, after Anthony Steel had his conviction for the murder of the bakery worker quashed by the Court of Appeals in 2003.
He had spent 20 years in jail before he was released.
Experts will also look at the missed chances police had to capture Sutcliffe at an earlier date.
When is The Yorkshire Ripper: The Secret Murders on?
The show will air on ITV1 and STV at 10:45pm on Monday 23 May 2022.
There will be two episodes in the series, the second of which will air the next night (Tuesday 24 May) at the same time.
Both episodes are currently available to watch on catch up on the ITVHub or STV Player.
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