The Yorkshire Ripper

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 murders escalated.

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 not traced.

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.

The stocky 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 traced.

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.

This time 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 area 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 Dave.

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 hall-marks.

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.

Two weeks 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.”

Two weeks 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.

The 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 them.

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 publicity…

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.”

Read the newspaper article “Another Maniac at large”

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 times.

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 police blunders.

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 Stanley knife.

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 allegations.

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.