The serial killer known as the Yorkshire Ripper has died. Peter Sutcliffe, 74, was one of the UK’s most notorious prisoners, having murdered at least 13 women across the north of England in the late 1970s.
He was jailed in 1981 and spent several years at Broadmoor Hospital where he was treated for paranoid schizophrenia. His sentence was made a whole-life term in 2010 before he was transferred to HMP Frankland in County Durham in 2016.
Sutcliffe died at University Hospital of North Durham, three miles from where he was an inmate, a Prison Service spokesman confirmed.
He was sent there after developing Covid-19, but is understood to have refused treatment for the virus.
The 74-year-old had previously returned to prison after being treated for a suspected heart attack two weeks ago – but was forced to go back to hospital after testing positive for coronavirus.
He was obese and had a number of health problems, including diabetes and heart issues.
Sutcliffe grew up in West Yorkshire and after leaving school held a number of different low skilled jobs, including a job as a gravedigger.
He got married in 1974, but had also become obsessed with female sex workers.
He started attacking women in the late 1960s, but the first known murder happened in 1975 when he killed 28-year-old Wilma McCann, a mother-of-four from Leeds.
Over the following five years he continued killing women across Yorkshire and the North West and as the story of his crimes grew, he became known as the Yorkshire Ripper.
Sutcliffe avoided detection for years due to a series of missed opportunities by police to snare him, but he confessed in 1981 when he was called in to a police station over stolen number plates on his car.
While he was still at large police urged women not to go out alone at night.
His 13 known victims were: Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson, Tina Atkinson, Jayne MacDonald, Jean Jordan, Yvonne Pearson, Helen Rytka, Vera Millward, Josephine Whitaker, Barbara Leach, Marguerite Walls and Jacqueline Hill.
Richard McCann, the son of his first victim Wilma, told Sky News: “He ruined so many lives.
“He will go down as one of those figures from the twentieth century in the same league I suppose as someone like Hitler.”
Confirming his death, a Prison Service spokesman said in a statement: “HMP Frankland prisoner Peter Coonan (born Sutcliffe) died in hospital on 13 November. The prisons and probation ombudsman has been informed.”