Peter William Sutcliffe (2 June 1946 – 13 November 2020), also known as Peter William Coonan, was an English serial killer who was dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper (an allusion to Jack the Ripper) by the press. On 22 May 1981, he was found guilty of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven others between 1975 and 1980.
- Who Was Peter Sutcliffe?
- Early Life and Career
- Murder Victims
- Problems in The Yorkshire Ripper Investigation
- Trial and Sentence
- Personal Life
In 1981, Peter Sutcliffe was identified as the serial killer that theBritish press had dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper. From 1975 through 1980, Sutcliffe committed at least 13 murders and seven other brutal assaults on women in northern England.Terror spread through the area as the attacks continued, spurring a years-long manhunt that incorporated an estimated2.5 million police hours. However, the search for Sutcliffe was derailed by problems that included police being unable to process information they'd collected, disrespect for the many victims who were sex workers and a hoax that misdirected the investigation. After he was captured and behind bars, Sutcliffe began using his mother's maiden name and going by Peter William Coonan. The Yorkshire Ripper has attracted continued interest over the years, with his story being told in a true-crime podcast and in the 2020 documentary The Ripper.
Sutcliffe was born on June 2, 1946, in Bingley, West Yorkshire, England, to John and Kathleen Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe grew up with five younger siblings, two brothers and three sisters, in a working-class Catholic family. As a teenager he was said to be aloner with voyeuristic tendencies. He left school in 1961, when he was 15. After leaving school Sutcliffe took on several different jobs, including at a factory and a mill. He became a grave digger in 1964, which led to a part-time job at a local morgue. Hebragged to friends about robbing bodies at the morgue. In 1976, Sutcliffe found a job as a truck driver. He became a trusted employee and remained in the position during his killing spree.
The first woman Sutcliffe is known to have killed was 28-year-old Wilma McCann in October 1975. McCann was a sex worker, and Sutcliffe later confessed to the police,"After that first time, I developed and played up a hatred for prostitutes in order to justify within myself a reason why I had attacked and killed Wilma McCann." He killed another sex worker, Emily Jackson, 42, in January 1976. In 1977, Sutcliffe took the lives of four women: 28-year-old Irene Richardson in February; 32-year-old Patricia Atkinson in April; 16-year-old Jayne MacDonald in June; and 21-year-old Jean Jordan in October. Of these victims, MacDonald had not engaged in sex work. This change in victim profile resulted innational press attention, and soon the media was using the name the "Yorkshire Ripper" to describe the killer. Sutcliffe killed three more people in 1978: sex workers Yvonne Pearson, 22, and Helen Rytka, 18, were murdered in separate attacks in January. Sutcliffe took the life of 40-year-old Vera...
Sutcliffe was arrested in the city of Sheffield on January 2, 1981. He was sitting in a car with a sex worker, Olivia Reivers, when police spotted his fake license plates. After he was taken into custody, police discovered screwdrivers in Sutcliffe's car, which resulted in a search that uncovered a hammer and knife stashed near the scene of his arrest (he'd gotten a private moment by telling officers he needed to relieve himself). During his interrogation, Sutcliffe confessed to the crimes, saying,"It's all right, I know what you're leading up to. The Yorkshire Ripper. It's me. I killed all those women."
Sutcliffe was convicted in 1981 of murdering 13 women in Yorkshire and Manchester between 1975 and 1980. In these brutal crimes victims were often battered with a hammer, as well as being stabbed and mutilated with a knife or sharpened screwdriver. At his 1981 trial Sutcliffe was also found guilty of attacking seven other women in the 1975 to 1980 time period. These victims survived, though with lasting trauma and severe injuries. Sutcliffe has one other confirmed victim — in 1969 he used a sock with a stone in it to strike a woman; she survived but declined to press charges. In addition, a 1982 government inquiry noted,"We feel it is highly improbable that the crimes in respect of which Sutcliffe has been charged and convicted are the only ones attributable to him." In 2017,police admitted to reviewing unsolved cases for ties to Sutcliffe. In1992, hereportedly confessedto striking a 14-year-old girl with a hammer in August 1975. However, no additional charges were ever filed agains...
Sutcliffe himself said at his trial,"It was just a miracle they did not apprehend me earlier — they had all the facts." But multiple investigatory missteps kept police from capturing Sutcliffe. One issue with the investigation was the sheer quantity of information. So many index cards were filled in that the rooms holding these cards needed reinforced floors. And at the time there were no computers to process the facts on these cards. Investigators missed other opportunities to stop a killer. Sutcliffe was interviewed by the police nine times prior to his arrest. In one encounter, no one spotted that he was wearing a pair of boots that matched a print left at the scene of one of his crimes. No action was taken when a friend sent the police an anonymous letter denouncing Sutcliffe. And a five-pound banknote discovered on one victim was traced to Sutcliffe's employer, but police accepted Sutcliffe's alibi that he had been at a party. In 1979, police fell for a hoax tape and letters pu...
Sutcliffe's trial began on May 4, 1981. Though he'd confessed to being the Yorkshire Ripper after his January arrest, in court he pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to murder, claiming diminished responsibility (akin to a plea of temporary insanity in the United States). Sutcliffe shared that he'd killed sex workers due to his belief that he was on a"divine mission." Yet Sutcliffe's plea of diminished responsibility, which could have resulted in a lighter sentence, wasn't successful. On May 22, 1981, he was found guilty of 13 murders and seven counts of attempted murder. The judge sentenced him to 20 life terms and recommended a minimum sentence of 30 years. (The death penalty was not an option, having been abolished in 1965.) In 1984, a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia saw Sutcliffe removed from prison and sent to Broadmoor Hospital, a secure psychiatric facility. While in custody Sutcliffe applied for the right to parole, but a 2010 ruling said that he would never be...
Sutcliffe died at the age of 74 on November 13, 2020, in the University Hospital of North Durham, near the prison where he'd been serving his sentence. At the end of October Sutcliffe had been treated for a suspected heart attack at the same hospital where he later died. Following his hospital stay he reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 but refused treatment.
Sutcliffe met Sonia Szurma, whose parents were refugees from Poland and Ukraine, in 1966. The two married on August 10, 1974. They had no children. Soniaoffered her support during Sutcliffe's 1981 trial, and initially visited him while he was in custody. They divorced in 1994. Her visits reportedlystopped after she got married again in 1997. Though Sonia no longer lives in the house she and Sutcliffe moved into in 1977, she has not sold the home. Despite the divorce, Sutcliffe named Sonia as his next of kin. She isthought to have planned his funeral.
Nov 13, 2020 · Sutcliffe, who left school at 15, worked menial jobs before becoming a grave digger and truck driver. His attacks began in July 1975 in the West Yorkshire town of Keighley, where he beat a woman ...
- Killings, Arrest, and Incarceration
- Modus Operandi
- Known Victims
- on Criminal Minds
Sutcliffe was born in Bingley in West Riding of Yorkshire the first-born child of six. His parents were John and Katherine Sutcliffe. His father was well-liked and friendly, and so his parents hoped that he would grow up to be like him. Instead, Peter was shy, introverted, quiet and preferred reading to playing sports. He was closer to his mother, whom his father suspected of having an affair. In secondary school, he was often bullied, driving him to truancy. He was absent for two weeks before his parents were notified. During his later secondary school years, he made an effort to fit in with his peers, taking up bodybuilding with noticeable results. Though he took up some sport activities, he didn't show much interest in girls, of whom he was very shy. Because of his fear of being conspicuous, he never did very well in anything school-related. Leaving school at the age of 15, he spent two years at various jobs. He then got an engineering apprenticeship but dropped out after a few w...
In July of 1975, Sutcliffe claimed his second victim, striking 36-year-old Anna Rogulskyj with a hammer and slashing her with a knife. Because he was forced to flee when someone nearby heard the noise, she survived. He tried to attack two more women the same way in August before successfully killing 28-year-old Wilma McCann. For the following six years, Sutcliffe continued terrorizing Yorkshire, attacking prostitutes in the night. The cases were connected by his consistent M.O. of first striking his victims with a hammer and then stabbing and mutilating them. Because of the similarities to the Jack the Rippercase, Sutcliffe was nicknamed "The Yorkshire Ripper". The case didn't attract too much attention until 1977; when Sutcliffe killed Jayne McDonald, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, the media labeled her as the first "innocent" victim. Sutcliffe himself was interviewed a total of nine times by police over the course of the investigation, but his luck with evading the law continued. In 19...
Sutcliffe usually targeted prostitutes and would attack them on the streets. After approaching them pretending to buy sex from them or simply blitzing them, he would subdue them with strikes to the head from a hammer and pull their upper body clothing up to their armpits and their lower body clothing down to their ankles. He would strike them (and sometimes also claw them) with a hammer and then kill them by stabbing them with a knife or a screwdriver. A few of his later victims were strangled to death with a length of rope instead of being stabbed, while a few other victims were killed with the hammer only. One victim, Yvonne Pearson, was killed by being beaten to death with a boulder instead. At least two victims were raped, one with a screwdriver.
In 1979, famed FBI profilers John Douglas and Robert Ressler drafted a profile of the Yorkshire Ripper while drinking beer with John Domaille, one of the investigators assigned to the case. Douglas and Ressler were in the UK visiting Police Staff College, Bramshill (at the time the equivalent of the FBI Academyin Quantico), hoping to establish contacts and stir interest for an exchange program. According to them, the killer was in his late twenties or early thirties, probably a school dropout or a man who had not been through higher education. He was able to enter the areas of the murders in a way that rendered him near invisible. He got there without people paying attention to him, because business regularly took him to various areas; he would be a cabdriver or a truck driver or a mail carrier or possibly even a policeman. He was not a total loner, and would have a relationship with a woman, even though the absence of a sexual penetration of the victims suggested that he had some s...September 1969, Bradford, City of Bradford, West Yorkshire: "Stone-in-Sock" (real name undisclosed; attempted; struck on the head with a stone-filled sock)1975:1976:1977:
Sutcliffe is very similar to Herbert Mullin- Both are serial killers with the same middle name, murdered 13 victims, killed primarily one gender (Sutcliffe killed women, while Mullin mostly killed...
- 3 min
Dec 17, 2020 · Peter William Sutcliffe murdered at least 13 women between 1975 and 1980. By Lauren Kranc. Dec 17, 2020. Elaine Chung. Netflix’s latest true crime series outlines the violent murders committed ...
Peter Sutcliffe is an infamous English serial killer, who was also known as the ‘Yorkshire Ripper.’. He was convicted for the murder of 13 prostitutes and attempt to kill seven more women. Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, he had mental troubles since childhood. Before his marriage, he would hire a lot of prostitutes and, according to his friends, he was conned by some of them very badly, which led to his hatred toward them.
Peter William Sutcliffe also labelled as ‘’ The Yorkshire Ripper ‘’, is one of the most dreaded serial killers in British history. Sutcliffe, the firstborn son of John and Kathleen Sutcliffe, was born on 2nd June 1946, in Bingley county of Yorkshire. An intriguing aspect concerning Sutcliffe murder activities was that he targeted women, essentially those he believed to be prostitutes.