Ripper files reopened: Compelling and macabre new clues point to a chilling truth… the depraved Yorkshire Ripper butchered not 13 but 35 women and one MAN and, according to a gripping new book, police covered it up
- Peter Sutcliffe was also convicted of seven attempted murders in 1981
- Used a hammer, repeatedly stabbed the bodies and stripped his victims
- Truth about true number of deaths has remained hidden due to cover-up
- Sutcliffe was interviewed and dismissed as a suspect nine times
In 1981, Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, was convicted of 13 murders and seven attempted murders. Yet even this is not the whole terrible truth
In 1981, Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, was convicted of 13 murders and seven attempted murders. Yet even this is not the whole terrible truth.
Now, in an explosive new book, former police intelligence officer Chris Clark and investigative journalist Tim Tate reveal the full scope of his evil, which claimed at least 23 more lives and left seven others with terrible injuries. They discovered a disturbing cover-up of police incompetence, and that Sutcliffe attacked men as well as women in 16 years of horror across England – not just Yorkshire and Lancashire.
The cover-up has betrayed the forgotten victims – as well as three men who between them wrongly served 77 years in prison for murders he committed.
Eve Stratford was discovered face-down on the floor of her East London bedroom at 5.25pm on March 1975. Her hands were tied behind her back with a stocking and a belt and her blue negligee had been ripped open. Her throat had been cut so violently with a large knife that her head was almost severed.
The case caused a sensation. Eve was a ‘bunny girl’ hostess at Park Lane’s risqué Playboy Club and had posed nude in Mayfair magazine. Scotland Yard initially worked on the theory that she had either met her killer at work or through her glamour modelling work, but failed to make any arrests.
The case came four months before the attack on Anna Rogulskyj in Keighley, West Yorkshire, and another on Olive Smelt in Halifax a few weeks later – cases which became the first officially recorded attempted murders in the gruesome crime catalogue of Britain’s most vicious and feared serial killer, Peter Sutcliffe.
Yet to this day Eve is not considered to be a Ripper victim, even though her murder shows elements of Sutcliffe’s distinctive and gruesome modus operandi (MO).
Nor is 16-year-old Lynne Weedon, killed on the other side of London six months later in an attack that had all the hallmarks of the Ripper. This case too remains unsolved. Tellingly, the two crimes have now been linked by modern DNA analysis – further compelling evidence that Eve did indeed belong to a horrific catalogue of killings that far exceed the acknowledged total.
Lynne Weedon’s murder was completely characteristic. She was attacked from behind as she walked home in Hounslow, West London, on September 3, 1975. Her skull was smashed with one massive blow from a blunt instrument. Her killer removed her blue jeans, leaving her naked from the waist down; he then began sexually molesting her dying body before being disturbed and dumping her body in the grounds of an electricity substation.
The crimes Sutcliffe admitted after being caught in 1981 revealed the unusual way in which he killed – details so unusual it is extraordinarily unlikely that similar crimes could be committed by anyone else.
His MO included prior conversation with his victims, the use of hammer (usually with a round head or ‘ball-peen’) from behind, repeated stabbing after death with a knife or screwdriver, partially stripping and moving his victim’s body and posing them in a ‘staged’ crime scene. He sometimes used a knotted roped to strangle victims, and semen was sometimes left at the scene.
Eve Stratford was discovered face-down on the floor of her East London bedroom at 5.25pm on March 1975. Her hands were tied behind her back with a stocking and a belt and her blue negligee had been ripped open
Lynne’s murder was typical, although her attacker was disturbed before he could complete his grisly tableau, with clothes pulled up to expose the breasts and mutilation to the abdomen and genitals. Eve Stratford’s killing was more unusual, but, as we will see, there are other cases that featured the near-removal of the victim’s head.
Analysis of scores of unsolved murders gathering dust in police files show that the officially accepted history of the Ripper’s crimes – the brutal murder of 13 young women and seven equally horrific attempted murders between 1975 and 1980 – vastly underestimate the true extent of Peter Sutcliffe’s reign of terror.
Out of a total of 78 unsolved murders in the 16 years before Sutcliffe was arrested, the killing of no fewer than 22 women bear the unmistakeable imprint of the Yorkshire Ripper, as well as six attacks in which the female victims survived and two attacks on men, one fatal, making a total of 30 unacknowledged Ripper attacks.
Disturbingly, the truth has remained hidden thanks to an extraordinary cover-up which has obscured the incompetence of West Yorkshire Police, who missed repeated chances to bring him to justice; Sutcliffe was interviewed and dismissed as a suspect nine times.
The force compounded its bungling by resisting attempts of other forces to question Sutcliffe over similar unsolved murders in their areas. They even failed to properly reinvestigate cold cases on their own patch.
Sutcliffe commonly used a hammer (usually with a round head or ‘ball-peen’) from behind, repeatedly stabbed his victims after death with a knife or screwdriver, partially stripped and moved his victim’s body and posed them in ‘staged’ crime scenes
Yet analysis of these unsolved cases show that Sutcliffe started his killing spree in 1966, almost a decade before the officially accepted version of events.
Furthermore, his crimes were not confined to prostitutes, nor did he restrict himself to Yorkshire and the North. In fact, Sutcliffe, a lorry driver, killed in London, Essex, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and the Midlands.
Worse still, as a result of the police’s obduracy, three innocent men would rot for decades behind bars, wrongly convicted of crimes almost certainly committed by the Yorkshire Ripper.
One of them, Stephen Downing, became a cause celebre after The Mail on Sunday campaigned for the quashing of his conviction after he had protested his innocence for 27 years, a stance which made him ineligible for parole (see the panel below.)
Two other men, Anthony Steel and Andrew Evans, served 25 years each for crimes that show the hallmarks of the Ripper: the murders of Carol Wilkinson in Bradford in 1977, and Judith Roberts in Tamworth, Staffordshire, in 1972.
Both, like Downing, were vulnerable because of learning difficulties or mental problems. All unjustly spent the best years of their adult lives behind bars.
The police’s chaotic and ineffective hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper was doomed by three fatal misconceptions – that he attacked only prostitutes, that a hoaxer with a Sunderland accent was the culprit, and that he only attacked in Manchester and Yorkshire
The police’s chaotic and ineffective hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper was doomed by three fatal misconceptions – that he attacked only prostitutes, that a hoaxer with a Sunderland accent was the culprit, and that he only attacked in Manchester and Yorkshire.
But if they had widened their search to cover all attacks with a similar, incredibly rare, method, they would have discovered detailed descriptions that would have firmly pointed the finger at Sutcliffe, and surely have saved the lives of a least a dozen women.
Detailed analysis of the unsolved case files – one was carried out by police after Sutcliffe’s prosecution, but never acted upon – shows not only that his first attacks were on men, but that he operated across a wide swathe of England, and carried out many more crimes in his native Yorkshire. The first missed case came on April 22, 1966 – almost a decade before the Ripper’s first official attack – when Bingley bookmaker Fred Craven was smashed on the back of the head with a blunt instrument. Robbers made off with £200, leaving Mr Craven dead in a pool of blood.
Detectives soon had descriptions of two suspects: one was described as no more than 20, slim, 5ft 5in and dressed in a dark jacket, light trousers and a denim ‘Donovan’ cap – as worn by the Scottish singer popular at the time. Sutcliffe was then just weeks short of his 20th birthday.
Within two days, police arrested Michael Sutcliffe, Peter’s 16-year-old brother, who was known to wear a Donovan cap, but he had an alibi. They failed to realise that Peter Sutcliffe fitted the description better.
DID SUTCLIFFE MURDER THE BAKEWELL TART?
The 1973 murder of the unhappily-married Wendy Sewell in a Derbyshire graveyard became infamous as the ‘Bakewell Tart’ case.
Stephen Downing, a 17-year-old cemetery groundsman with learning difficulties, was questioned for hours by police without a solicitor present, and told he wouldn’t be allowed to sleep until he signed a confession they had prepared, which he did.
He later retracted the statement, but was convicted of her murder and served 27 years behind bars while maintaining his innocence in the longest miscarriage of justice in Britain. He was told he would never be eligible for parole until he acknowledged his guilt.
His case was championed by The Mail on Sunday, and Downing was freed by the Court of Appeal in 2002 after his conviction was ruled unsafe.
Derbyshire Police reinvestigated the case, but subsequently said there were no other suspects, shamefully implying that Downing was guilty all along.
But a long-suppressed post-mortem report, released after a Freedom of Information request and never seen by the court, showed Wendy had been garotted with a knotted ligature, battered from behind, stripped and brutally kicked – all hallmarks of the Ripper.
She had also been heard speaking to a man with a high-pitched voice on the phone before leaving the office. Sutcliffe has a high-pitched voice.
Victim: Wendy Sewell and her husband David on their wedding day, before she was murdered in 1973
He also owned such a cap and had repeatedly pestered Mr Craven’s daughter to go out with him. The case remains unsolved.
Almost a year later, on March 22, 1967, bespectacled taxi driver John Tomey picked up a fare in Leeds city centre. His passenger was in his early 20s, local, with dark hair, a moustache and beard. On a deserted stretch of road, the passenger smashed a ball-peen hammer several times into the back of Mr Tomey’s skull. As he came to, he got a clear view of his assailant, who had jumped out of the car and was trying to pull the driver’s door open, smashing the window with the hammer. Dazed and bleeding heavily, Mr Tomey managed drive away, but he did give a full description to police.
Again, the case remains unsolved and was never considered a Ripper crime, although one detective tried to bring the case to the Ripper squad’s attention and was rebuffed ‘because the Ripper only attacked women’. According to their official version, he would not start his attacks for another eight years.
But the police know their authorised version of history is wrong. Their own files show the Ripper attacked a prostitute in August 1969. Sutcliffe was on one of his regular trawls of Bradford’s red light district with his friend Trevor Birdsall when they saw a woman staggering drunkenly along the pavement.
Investigators searched for clues as the wave of unsolved killings continued and several bits of evidence were ignored
Sutcliffe suddenly got out of the vehicle and returned ten minutes later, telling Birdsall he had followed ‘an old cow’ to a house and hit her on the back of the head with a stone stuffed into a sock.
The woman survived to tell police the registration plate of Birdsall’s van. Sutcliffe admitted hitting the woman in a drunken argument, but the victim, fearful her husband would discover she was working as a prostitute, declined to press charges. Sutcliffe accepted a police caution.
The following month he was arrested in the red light district with a knife and a ball-peen hammer after a beat bobby spotted him crouched down in his old Morris Minor. He was arrested and fined for going equipped to steal. No connection was made with his caution for attacking a prostitute.
Meanwhile, the wave of unsolved killings continued. They have a sickening similarity, but police communication was so poor that no one even realised a serial killer was on the loose. On Saturday, March 14, 1970, a Cheshire farmer stumbled across the body of Jacqueline ‘Jackie’ Ansell-Lamb, an 18-year-old legal secretary who shared a flat with her best friend in Manchester. Jackie had been in London for a party the previous weekend and was last seen hitch-hiking back up the M1.
Her body bore evidence of both sexual assault and battering to the back of the head. The clear cause of death was strangulation with a strand of knotted rope. Revealingly, the killer had posed her dead body.
Crime scene staging is present in just one per cent of homicides and forms a distinctive signature – indeed, it was a hallmark of the Yorkshire Ripper, who frequently killed and mutilated his victims, often face-down. He then dragged them to their final resting place, where he would typically, though not always, turn them over and arrange their clothing to display their breasts and his frenzied stabbing of the abdomen and groin.
Sometimes his victims were covered, on other occasions their clothes were placed nearby. Despite a huge police inquiry, Jackie’s killer was never found.
Sutcliffe entering Dewsbury Magistrates Court under a blanket surrounded by police
By September 1970, Sutcliffe’s fiancee Sonia had enrolled at a teacher-training college in London and Sutcliffe drove down to see her most weekends. Barbara Mayo was a 24-year-old trainee teacher living with her boyfriend in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. On October 12, she set out to hitch-hike up the M1 to Catterick to collect her car. Six days later her body was discovered in woods in Derbyshire.
She was face-down, with her clothing in disarray and her jacket spread over her. She had been beaten about the head and strangled with a ligature. A DNA sample, presumably semen, was found on her clothing –another common part of the Ripper MO. Barbara Mayo’s murder has never been solved.
The near-naked body of Gloria Booth was discovered at 8am on Sunday, June 13, 1971, in brambles on a recreation ground in Ruislip, West London. She had been viciously attacked. A post-mortem suggested she had been lying face-down for at least half an hour after she was hit over the head, garotted and mutilated. Then her body was posed: her bra and blouse had been pushed up to reveal her breasts and she had several nasty-looking wounds to the abdomen – evidence that the crime was far from a ‘typical’ rape.
Sutcliffe used a knotted garotte on his last two ‘official’ victims and was carrying a 3ft length of knotted nylon rope when he was finally caught in January 1981.
Police have known for more than 30 years that the Ripper may have struck many more times. Scandalously, the cases have not been re-opened. The families of the men and women he killed and the unacknowledged survivors have been shamefully ignored to preserve the blushes of West Yorkshire Police
The partial removal of Gloria’s clothing was similar to the staging noted in all of the murders for which Sutcliffe was eventually convicted. The mutilation of her pubic region had a strong parallel with several acknowledged murders. And police discovered distinctive bite marks as found in at least one other murder – made by a man with the same gap in his front teeth as Sutcliffe.
In all, the murder of Gloria Booth showed eight of the 11 often-seen characteristics of the Ripper’s MO, more than any of the murders he admitted. The uncanny parallels between the deaths of Gloria Booth, Jackie Ansell-Lamb and Barbara Mayo and the known victims of the Yorkshire Ripper are far more than a coincidence. Individually, the aspects of the Ripper’s MO are rare; together, they make it extremely unlikely that the killer was anyone else than Sutcliffe. Yet all remain unsolved.
The murders form just a small part of a disturbing catalogue of 30 unsolved cases that show distinct and unusual hallmarks of the Ripper.
Indeed, the correlation is as extraordinary as it is obvious. In 22 cases, a ball-peen hammer or similar object was used on the back of the head, ten were stabbed, eight were throttled with a ligature, 15 were stripped, ten cases were posed, and in ten cases the body was moved – although in a further 11 cases the Ripper was disturbed.
Sutcliffe’s unacknowledged crimes across the country range from 1966 to 1980, just before his arrest. Fourteen of his crimes came before the first ‘official’ Ripper attack in the summer of 1975. Few, as the Ripper police insisted, were prostitutes. Two were men.
Police have known for more than 30 years that the Ripper may have struck many more times. Scandalously, the cases have not been re-opened. The families of the men and women he killed and the unacknowledged survivors have been shamefully ignored to preserve the blushes of West Yorkshire Police.
It is time for Peter William Sutcliffe to face prosecution for the full catalogue of his crimes. Only then will all the ghosts of the Yorkshire Ripper finally be laid to rest.
From Yorkshire Ripper: The Secret Murders, by Chris Clark and Tim Tate, published by John Blake Publishing on June 29, priced £17.99. It is available for £13.49 with free p&p from http://www.mailbookshop.co.uk until July 5.
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