Peter Sutcliffe, who went on a killing spree targeting women in west Yorkshire and Manchester between 1975 and 1980 and was handed 20 life sentences, has died aged 74 after refusing treatment for Covid-19, officials said on Friday.
Dubbed the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’, Sutcliffe hit headlines across the globe with his killings that he believed were prompted by the “voice of god.” He hit several of his 13 victims with hammers at night, and later mutilated them with screwdriver and knife.
The former lorry driver from Bradford was convicted in 1981 of murdering 13 women and attempted murder of seven others. According to him, he was on a “mission from god” to kill prostitutes. He was serving the sentences in the Frankland jail in County Durham.
A Prison Service spokesman said: “HMP Frankland prisoner Peter Coonan (born Sutcliffe) died in hospital on November 13. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed.”
The spate of killings led to one of the largest manhunts in British history, with the identity of the killer long remaining a mystery. The investigation was at times misled but he was finally apprehended and jailed.
Richard McCann, son of Sutcliffe’s first victim Wilma McCann killed in October 1975, told BBC: “The attention he’s had over the years, the continuous news stories that we’ve suffered over the years, there is some form of conclusion to that”.
“I am sure a lot of the families, surviving children of the victims may well be glad he has gone and they have a right to feel like that.”