The notorious serial killer known as the Yorkshire Ripper has died in prison, while serving a life term for the murder of 13 women. The horrific murder spree took place across Yorkshire and the North West between 1975 and 1980. The Yorkshire Ripper’s real name is Peter Sutcliffe, and he has been in custody since 1981, passing between different prisons and high-security mental facilities ever since.
On Friday, a Prison Service spokesman told the press that Sutcliffe had died at University Hospital of North Durham, which is just a few miles away from where he was being imprisoned. He died at the at of 74 and had numerous health complications, including diabetes and heart issues. He was also treated for a suspected heart attack two weeks ago. In addition, the prisoner reportedly contracted COVID-19 while behind bars, but refused treatment for the virus, according to Sky News.
"I'm surprised how I feel this morning"
Richard McCann is the son of Peter Sutcliffe's first victim, Wilma.
He talks to #BBCBreakfast as it's announced the Yorkshire Ripper has died aged 74.https://t.co/wxSRc17otu pic.twitter.com/JG6Of9KTTF
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) November 13, 2020
Downing Street issued a statement on the killer’s death, saying that, “The prime minister’s thoughts today are with those who lost their lives, the survivors and with the families and the friends of Sutcliffe’s victims. Peter Sutcliffe was a depraved and evil individual whose crimes caused unimaginable suffering and appalled this country. Nothing will ever detract from the harm that he caused, but it is right that he died behind bars for his barbaric murders and for his attempted murders.”
Sutcliffe was transferred from prison to a high-security psychiatric hospital in March 1984 after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The High Court dismissed an appeal by Sutcliffe in 2010, confirming that he would serve a whole life order and never be released from custody. In August 2016, it was ruled that Sutcliffe was mentally fit to be returned to prison, and he was transferred that month to HM Prison Frankland in Durham.
During his trial, Sutcliffe claimed to be the tool of God’s will. He said he had heard voices that ordered him to kill women while working as a gravedigger. He said the voices originated from the headstone of a Polish man, Bronisław Zapolski, and that the voices were that of God.
In 2017, West Yorkshire Police launched Operation Painthall to determine if Sutcliffe was guilty of unsolved crimes dating back to 1964. This inquiry also looked at the killings of two sex workers in southern Sweden in 1980. As Sutcliffe was a lorry driver, it was theorized that he had been in Denmark and Sweden, making use of the ferry across the Oresund Strait. West Yorkshire Police later stated that they were “absolutely certain” that Sutcliffe had never been in Sweden.