LONDON – The British serial killer known as the “Yorkshire Ripper”, who caused panic and fear in northern England in the 1970s, died in a hospital on Friday. He was 74.
Peter Sutcliffe, a former grave digger, was serving concurrent life imprisonment for killing 13 women in Yorkshire and northwest England between 1975 and 1980.
British media reported that he had refused treatment after testing positive for Kovid-19 and suffering from a number of underlying health conditions. His death will be investigated by the coroner.
Sutcliffe’s barbaric attacks on the women were molded by the incompetence of the police which allowed them to evade arrest and continue killing. For the Ripper it was the largest country it had ever known, with nearly 2.5 million hours trying to capture it. Documentaries have reported that Britain’s inquisitors are adamant about their theories, missing key clues, ignoring conflicting evidence and wasting time hunting for the killer.
Although he was interviewed nine times during the investigation, Sucliffe was caught only after he was found with a prostitute in his car.
He was arrested in the English city of Sheffield on 2 January 1981, and later confessed, although he denied it in his trial. He was convicted in London’s Central Criminal Court on May 22, 1981, seven of 13 counts of attempted murder and 20 concurrent life sentences.
During his trial, even Sitcliffe expressed surprise that he was able to last so long.
“It was just a miracle they hadn’t caught me before – they had all the facts,” he said.
The police had found themselves overwhelmed with the information, and a card system they had created was improperly cross-referenced, thereby misrepresenting important facts. Details about his appearance, such as gaps in his teeth and the size of seven feet, were not flagged.
During one of his interviews, officers showed Sitcliffe a picture of the ripper’s boot print near a body but failed to notice that he was actually wearing shoes.
In another explosion, Marcella Claxton, a victim who survived being hit with a hammer in the head, was able to help police image the suspect who later proved to be accurate. But her testimony was discounted by police, who thought she was not a Ripper victim because she was not a prostitute, as some of her other victims were.
After pleading guilty, Sucliffe spent a long time at Broadmore Hospital in Berkshire. He was transferred to HMP Frankland in 2016 after being deemed stable enough to serve time in prison.
A spokesman for the Prison Service said: “HMP Frankland prisoner Peter Conan (born Sutcliffe) died in the hospital on 13 November. The prison and probation ombudsman has been informed.”
Sutcliffe was reportedly suffering from poor health conditions before his death, including heart problems, diabetes and obesity.