On the 20th January 1976, 42 year old Leeds housewife Emily Jackson who had been soliciting for prostitution outside the Gaiety
public house in Chapletown, Leeds was lured by a prospective client to a
nearby alleyway where she was to receive a horrible death and mutilation
by a cunning, sex-orientated psychopathic killer.
The almost theatrical display of her corpse, which had been
ritually mutilated, sickened hardened detectives who immediately linked
the murder to that of Leeds prostitute Wilma McCann, who received a
similar fate some eleven weeks earlier. The maniac was dubbed, the
Yorkshire Ripper. It was the start of what was to become Britain's biggest
manhunt, which escalated with three murders in 1977, two in 1978, two in
1979 and finally one in 1980.
The Ripper murdered in West Yorkshire police territory, in
Lancashire police territory and in Greater Manchester police territory. Up
to 350 detectives were deployed full-time on the case for 5 years as the
Two added ingredients heightened the tension for the
investigating police, who were under increasing pressure with every
murder to make an arrest.
First, in 1978 it became apparent that there was
a Copy-Cat killer who tried to emulate the Ripper and about the same time,
the police, it was later revealed, were in receipt of correspondence from
none other than the Ripper himself.
A well described stocky bearded Irishman who was a regular with
prostitutes was the last person seen with Emily Jackson. He became the
number one suspect and his description was published in England. He was
Eleven months went by and the Ripper struck again in Leeds. This time his
victim was a poor Scots girl, Irene Richardson, whose corpse received
similar theatrical treatment.
Two months later, the Ripper lured Bradford prostitute Tina
Atkinson to her own flat, because all motoring clients were suspect to
her. There she became his 4th victim in the official score.
bearded Irishman was again seen that night with Tina and this time the
Bradford police put out their call for him. He wasn't identified or
Two months later, on the 26th June the Ripper was back in
his earlier killing grounds, Leeds. This time, because all working
prostitutes were taking meticulous precautions and working in pairs, the
Ripper chose a 16 year old shop-assistant as his next victim. Jayne
McDonald's horrible murder shocked the nation and the Yorkshire Ripper
became national news.
Fear and outrage forced the police to adopt a unified
strategy, and what had been a series of separate murder investigations by
the local constabularies became a coordinated manhunt led by the Assistant
Chief Constable for Crime in West Yorkshire, George Oldfield.
the stocky bearded man was again noticed in the street where Jayne met her
killer, and his description was again published in England on newspapers
and on TV. He was not traced.
Billy Tracey - The Real Yorkshire Ripper
The Ripper was a regular topic of conversation in Yorkshire and occupied many
peoples minds. On the 9th October that same year, the body of prostitute Jean Jordan was discovered in a park near the side of a busy motorway in
Manchester. Her corpse had been dragged from a hedge where it had lain for
8 days, and was again subjected to frenzied mutilation with a pane of
glass and her clothes were strewn all around.
It bore none of the Ripper's
ritual hall-marks and was treated as a separate puzzling murder
investigation. A £5 note found in her purse was traced to a number of
firms in the Bingley and Shipley areaa of Bradford and several thousand
employees there were potential suspects.
On 2nd of November 1977 one of
these men, Peter Sutcliffe, was visited by a Manchester detective in what
was to be the first of twelve police interviews.
On 14th December,
Sutcliffe assaulted a Leeds prostitute Marilyn Moore and ran from the
scene. She described both him and his car accurately. He called himself
On the 31st January 1978, prostitute Helen Rytka who, to
foil the Ripper, had an elaborate security system devised with her sister,
was murdered in a woodyard near where they were soliciting in
Huddersfield; George Oldfield's home town. Her body bore all the Rippers
Oldfield appealed to the public for information and was
answered with two letters from the Ripper himself, among others. The
Ripper taunted Oldfield, included Sutcliffe's Jordan murder, and a Preston
murder in his count, and promised another murder in Manchester.
after receiving the second letter, the body of Bradford prostitute Yvonne
Pearson was discovered where it had lain buried for three months. It had
none of the Ripper hall-marks.
Sutcliffe, the Copy-Cat, had returned to
the body to expose it as he had done to Jean Jordan in Manchester. The
Bradford police stated that it was done by a Copy-Cat Ripper. A newspaper
featuring an article about Helen Rytka had been placed beside the body to
associate it with the Ripper.
On the 16th May, Vera Millward, a former prostitute, was
murdered in Manchester and her body was ritually rearranged. It bore all
the Rippers hall-marks.
Two weeks later the police included Jean Jordan in
the Ripper frame on the strength of the Rippers two letters, which were
then known only to the police.
At least four of the Ripper victims to date
had been sexually assaulted and traces of semen revealed he was of the
rare 'B' blood group.
Peter Sutcliffe was eliminated in all his subsequent
interviews because he is 'O' blood group, and because his wife convinced
the police he was with her at crucial times of Ripper murders.
There was a gap of eleven months and then the police
received a third letter promising "to get back on the job."
later, a 19 year old respectable girl, Josephine Whittaker, was murdered
in the same ritual fashion in Halifax, by the Ripper.
The third letter
bore "B" blood saliva on the gummed label and the imprint of the writers
teeth. Josephine was bitten deeply on the left breast by the killer of Joan Harrison in Preston in November 1975. The teeth imprints were
identical, and saliva on both bites yielded the same rare "B" blood group.
The Ripper had taken credit for the Preston murder in his first and second
letter. He authenticated his letters with the bite on Josephine
Whittaker's left breast.
Then, in June 1979, the police received a taped message
from the Ripper who mimicked a Geordie accent.
He again included Jordan, Pearson, and Harrison in his
count because they had all been in the Ripper frame for 6 months.
Ripper had effectively forced the police to include the Copy-Cat's murders
in his frame. It was a recipe for disaster if the disturbed Copy-Cat were
arrested. He also promised another murder, 'in September or October.'
Police, scenting a major capture, released extracts of his hand-writing
and Geordie accent in June, in the expectation of someone identifying
With chilling accuracy, on the 1st September, the Ripper
murdered university student Barbara Leach, within a few minutes walk of
Bradford police Ripper headquarters.
The murders became national and international news. The
Ripper had become the most notorious killer.
Two books hit the market place to capitalise on the
The urgency to identify the hand-writing and accent became
greater, and a massive free publicity campaign followed.
Meanwhile, in the Midlands of Ireland, the writer had only
succeeded in extricating himself from his association with a former
employee who was hired on the 1st June 1978. This was a stocky bearded
Irishman who proved to be a notorious sex maniac and who had been
diagnosed in U.K. jails as an aggressive psychopath. This man had a long
criminal record in England.
By chance that November, I read a Sunday
Telegraph article, part of the police publicity campaign, outlining a
psychological profile of the Yorkshire Ripper. It came as an unbelievable
shock to me but I knew this man was the Ripper. There was no mention of an
Irish suspect in the article. I traveled to England and gave the senior
police all the help I could. They never confided in me. Suddenly the huge
publicity campaign ground to a halt. Suddenly the Ripper squad was scaled
down to a few men.
Then Peter Sutcliffe received the last 3 of his many
interviews. Shortly after my tip-off the Irishman was involved in a
serious car crash. He was laid up with a broken pelvis, while his wife,
who had been convicted of prostitution in England, nursed him.
Meanwhile, Peter Sutcliffe, the Copy-Cat Ripper, had gone
to pieces mentally. He committed a murder in August 1980, which was
discounted as a Ripper murder. Then he attacked women in September, in
October and in November; and on the 17th November he assaulted Jacqueline
Hill. She was left for dead, and on a cold winters night she died of
exposure due to her injuries.
It was the third Copy-Cat murder. George Oldfield spoke to
the Sunday Times Insight team days after the Hill murder...
"Oldfield conceded to us that no fewer than five of the
attacks, 3 killings, 2 assaults, fell into a "grey area" where the balance
of probability that they were the Rippers work was "much weaker." If he
put his hands up to these killings then it would not surprise us",
Oldfield said. "But equally, if we were only able to charge him with 10
murders and not the 13 we would not mind."
Oldfields sentiment, after almost 5 years on the Ripper
trail, is understandable. But it carries a sinister implication: if all
the 17 attacks were not by the same person then there is not one Ripper
but - at least - two.
Clearly though, most of the attacks were committed by one
person - The Ripper."
Six weeks later, the disturbed Peter Sutcliffe was arrested
by Sheffield police on routine duty. He was with a black prostitute, and
told her his name was Dave.
Marilyn Moore's description of Dave was in
Sheffield police station. The West Yorkshire police, who knew he was the
Copy-Cat, were placed in a dilemma. Sutcliffe readily admitted he had
murdered Jacqueline Hill six weeks earlier; but she was in the Ripper
frame due to their tactics. An amazing press conference was called by
Chief Constable Gregory, who said he was "absolutely delighted", and that
the Ripper hunt would be scaled right down.
The Press had Sutcliffe named
as the Ripper before he was even charged with the murder of Jacqueline
Hill. He was duly charged and remanded.
In the next few weeks a deal was
done with him, whereby, in exchange for his pleas of guilty to
manslaughter for 13 murders on the grounds of diminished responsibility, he was promised no trial and a private room in a luxury mental home, with
a chance of parole in 10 years. While the police convinced the public that
they had caught the Ripper by holding the Copy-Cat, the real Ripper was
forgotten about. A.C.C. Jim. Hobson conceded he had been interviewed a few
There was no public enquiry. In the furore the police were
later forced to admit Sutcliffe had been interviewed 9 times. The letter
writer was written off as a cruel hoaxer. Subsequent evidence showed
Sutcliffe was interviewed 12 times. There was an elaborate cover-up of
There was the inevitable rush to print a number of books.
But I had to live with the fear and the burden of my own
knowledge, and after many fruitless attempts to meet with the senior West
Yorkshire police, I decided to write the story down. I believe it is
important, and I believe in principles. It was a life or death mission,
and many sacrifices were made.
When my allegations were first published in England in May
1983, Chief Constable Gregory resigned immediately, and George Oldfield
and A.C.C. Jim Hobson resigned shortly after.
The Ripper tried and failed to kill me, and is presently believed to be In England, while a warrant remains in Ireland since 1984
for his arrest in connection with an unprovoked attack on three men with a
I wrote to Sonia Sutcliffe, Peter's wife, in 1983, in 1984
and in 1985. 1 explained much of what is in this book. She never
responded. I felt a certain amount of sympathy for her.
I also wrote to Peter's father, John, who did respond, and
listened to my story. He gave me valuable help in my research, and has
actively helped me to expose the truth, while not seeking leniency for his
son. In May 1989 he went on Irish National Radio to support my
When I read about Sonia's libel action against Private Eye
magazine in May 1989, 1 decided to travel to London to meet her. I waited
for her in the hall of the court, and when she approached me I introduced
myself. She instantly recognised me and withdrew her hand. She said in a
loud voice, " I don't know you, and 1 don't want to know you." As she
walked off she said, " I'm not interested in one word you've got to say."
She avoided me by leaving through the judge's entrance.
The next day I
disrupted the court and called her a liar. 1 challenged her lawyers to sue
me for slander and accused her of seeking the jury's sympathy to get
money, when she was well aware that her husband is not the Ripper. I was
arrested and later released and Judge Michael Davies ordered that my
remarks not be published by the assembled media. The next day the jury
awarded her record damages of £600,000. Private Eye are a small company.
They appealed the award.
While 1 am resigned to the fact that the West Yorkshire
police will never admit their mistakes, 1 believe the public should be
warned for their safety. The murders themselves were unbelievable and the
police coverup is incredible but it is real. I believe it did happen. It
happened to all the victims, to the Sutcliffe family, to the disgraced
police, and to me.
The Ripper is an incredible man, but real nevertheless.
Look what he did. He knew some of the prostitutes he murdered. He has
murdered since, and will again.
Anna Rogulsky (above left) and Olive Smelt (above right) being escorted by police into
Sutcliffe's trial. They were assaulted by him in 1975. These assaults were
brought into the Ripper frame along with Sutcliffe's first murder of Jean
Jordan in Manchester. The police wrongly assumed that Sutcliffe was
disturbed in each case before he finished the job, whereas at that time he
did not intend to murder them.