British serial killer dies from COVID-19

Monday, 16 Nov, 2020

Within the annals of 20th-century serial killers, one name - and one moniker - represents a particularly disturbing chapter.

The serial killer's murder spree across Yorkshire and Manchester from 1975 to 1980 terrified northern England and led to a huge manhunt, but blunders in the police inquiry delayed his capture.

He revealed he had been in touch with one of Peter Sutcliffe's brothers, Carl, following the news that the murderer had died in prison today. These ladies were wives, they were mothers, they were sisters.

The Yorkshire Ripper's death should mark the end of his infamy and instead focus attention on the innocent lives he took, says his first victim's son.

Richard McCann, whose mother Wilma was murdered by the Yorkshire Ripper in 1975, had called for an apology, saying that officers had described 16-year-old Jayne MacDonald as Sutcliffe's first "innocent" victim, following her death in 1977.

Sutcliffe - who dodged authorities for years - died in hospital on Friday at the age of 74.

A photofit issued by West Yorkshire Police of Peter Sutcliffe, known as The Yorkshire Ripper, in 1979.

On August 10 1974, Sutcliffe married Sonia.

"The 13 women he murdered and the 7 who survived his brutal attacks are in my thoughts".

All three survived and police did not notice the similarities between the attacks.

Some senior police and prosecutors in the 1970s and 80s have faced sharp criticism over the years for the way they described victims of Sutcliffe - in particular those who were sex workers, often suggesting they were separate from "innocent" victims.

Sutcliffe picked her up in Leeds before hitting her with a hammer and stabbing in her neck, chest and stomach.

Sutcliffe's victims worked mostly in prostitution, and during his trial at the Old Bailey in May 1981, he claimed he had received orders from God to kill sex workers.

But life continued as normal for the Sutcliffes.

After the murder of the second victim, Emily Jackson, 42, in Leeds in 1976, senior officers announced they were looking for a "prostitute killer".

He would apparently wait more than a year before striking again.

One woman, now in her 70s, who was a young mother in Leeds from 1975 to 1977 at the height of the murders, said women would never go out alone.

Jacqueline HillJacqueline Hill, the 13th and last known victim of the Yorkshire Ripper, was found dead in 1979.

Police actually interviewed Sutcliffe nine times before his arrest.

'Looking at his injuries, Sutcliffe could have been a candidate for murdering this man'.

His passenger was 24-year-old street worker Olivia Reivers - detectives later discovered a hammer and a knife nearby.

He left Broadmoor and moved back into mainstream prison in 2016, serving at Frankland Prison, Durham.

A Prison Service spokesman said: "HMP Frankland prisoner Peter Coonan (born Sutcliffe) died in hospital on November 13".

Sutcliffe had tested positive for Covid-19 but according to British media reports this week had refused treatment.