The Yorkshire Ripper is one of the most notorious serial killers in British history. He is known to have murdered a minimum of 13 women and severely injured a further 7 (some experts believe that he may have been responsible for more, unsolved murders committed throughout Europe).
The Yorkshire Ripper's first known victims were in July and August of 1975. Somehow, both women survived the brutal hammer and knife attacks. But in October of the same year, the Ripper struck again. And this time the victim - 28-year-old Wilma McCann - did not live to tell the tale.
On January 20, 1976, The Yorkshire Ripper killed for a second time, bludgeoning a woman with a hammer, before stabbing her 50 times. He would not strike again until the following year, killing 28-year-old Irene Richardson in February 1977 and 32-year-old Patricia Atkinson in April of the same year. Atkinson's body was mutilated after death.
So far, all of the victim's had been prostitutes - society's forgotten women. But the next one was different. On June 16, 1977, The Yorkshire Ripper attacked and killed Jayne MacDonald, a regular and well-liked 'girl next door'. Suddenly, no woman in the North of England could really relax: any one of them was a potential target.
Police officers were, of course, under immense pressure to catch the killer before he could strike again. But they had no real evidence to go on. Until, that is, they were sent a recording and several taunting letters that purported to come from the Ripper himself. They threw themselves into the analysis of the new evidence, wasting countless hours on what turned out to be nothing more than an elaborate hoax (the identity of the hoaxer was never revealed).
In a desperate bid to catch the killer, law enforcement officials across the North of England had taken to staking out places that they thought he might strike next. It seemed like looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack, but one of the stakeouts noticed a man walking with a known prostitute. They decided to stop and search him just on the off-chance that he was the man they were looking for. And, by a stroke of good fortune, it turned out that he actually was. The police officers found that he was carrying weapons. Under interrogation, he confessed to the killings. His name was Peter Sutcliffe.
Peter Sutcliffe was sentenced to life imprisonment at HMP Parkhurst, but was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and sectioned under Section 47 of the Mental Health Act 1983. He is currently incarcerated in the infamous Broadmoor High-Security Hospital. He claims to have been cured, but his appeals to the courts have all been rejected. He will most likely die within the bleak walls of Broadmoor.
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