LONDON – The British serial killer “Yorkshire Ripper”, who caused terror and fear in northern England in the 1970s, died in a hospital on Friday. He was 74 years old.
Peter Sutcliffe, a former gravesite, was serving concurrent life sentences between 1975 and 1980 for killing 13 women in Yorkshire and North West England.
British media reported that he then refused treatment tested positive for Covid-19 and suffered from a number of underlying health conditions. His death is being investigated by the coroner.
Sutcliffe’s barbaric attacks on young women were compounded by the incompetence of the police, which enabled him to evade arrest and continue to kill. The manhunt for the Ripper was one of the largest the country had ever known. Around 2.5 million hours were spent catching it. Documentaries have recorded persistent British investigators sticking to their theories, missing key clues, ignoring conflicting evidence and wasting time looking for the killer.
Despite being interviewed nine times in the investigation, Sutcliffe was only caught after he was found in his car with a prostitute.
He was arrested on January 2, 1981 in the English city of Sheffield and later confessed, although he denied this at his trial. He was convicted of 13 murders and seven attempted murders in London’s Central Criminal Court on May 22, 1981, and sentenced to 20 simultaneous life sentences.
During his trial, even Sutcliffe was surprised that he could go on for so long.
“It was just a miracle they didn’t arrest me sooner – they had all the facts,” he said.
The police were overwhelmed with information and a map system they created was improperly referenced, resulting in important facts being misplaced. Details about his appearance, such as a gap in his teeth and size seven feet, have not been marked.
During one of his interviews, officers showed Sutcliffe a picture of the ripper’s bootprint near a corpse, but failed to realize that he was actually wearing the boots in question.
In another mistake, Marcella Claxton, a victim who survived being hit in the head with a hammer, was able to help police create a picture of the suspect that was later found to be correct. But her testimony was denied by the police, who thought she wasn’t a Ripper victim because she wasn’t a prostitute, as were some of his other victims.
After his conviction, Sutcliffe spent a long time at Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire. He was transferred to HMP Frankland in 2016 after being deemed stable enough to serve in prison.
A prison service spokesman said: “HMP Frankland prisoner Peter Coonan (née Sutcliffe) died in hospital on November 13th. The Ombudsman for Prisons and Probation has been informed. “
Sutcliffe reportedly suffered from a number of health problems before his death, including heart problems, diabetes and obesity.