Peter William Sutcliffe (born 2 June 1946) is an English serial killer who was dubbed "The Yorkshire Ripper". In 1981 Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering 13 women and attacking seven others. He is currently serving 20 sentences of life imprisonment in Broadmoor Hospital.
Sutcliffe committed his first assault on an older prostitute whom he had met whilst searching for the woman who had previously tricked him out of money. He had left his friend’s mini-van and walked up Pauls Road, Bradford, until he was out of sight. When he came back, he was out of breath, as if he had been running. He told long-term friend of his, Trevor Birdsall, who was the driver of the vehicle that he was in, to drive off quickly. Sutcliffe said that he had followed a prostitute into a garage and hit her over the head with a stone in a sock. According to his statement, Sutcliffe stated, “I got out of the car, went across the road and hit her. The force of the impact tore the toe off the sock and whatever was in it came out. I went back to the car and got in it”.
When the police visited his home the next day, they informed him that the woman, who bore no resemblance to the prostitute who had tricked him out of £10, had noted down Birdsall’s mini-van vehicle registration plate. Sutcliffe admitted that he had hit her over the head, but claimed that it was only with his hand. The police told him he was “very lucky” as the prostitute didn’t want anything more to do with the incident - she was a known prostitute and her common-law husband was serving a sentence for an assault.
Sutcliffe committed his second assault on the night of 5 July 1975 in Keighley. He attacked Anna Rogulskyj, who was walking alone, striking her unconscious with a ball-peen hammer and slashing her stomach with a knife. Disturbed by a neighbour, he left without killing her. Rogulskyj survived after extensive medical intervention but was emotionally traumatised by this attack.
Sutcliffe attacked Olive Smelt in Halifax in August. Employing the same modus operandi (MO) he struck her from behind and used a knife to slash her, though this time above her buttocks. Again he was interrupted, and left his victim badly injured but still alive. Like Rogulskyj, Smelt suffered emotional scars from the attack, including clinical depression. On 27 August, Sutcliffe attacked 14 year old Tracy Browne in Silsden. He struck her from behind and hit her on the head five times while she was walking in a country lane. Sutcliffe was not convicted of this attack, but confessed to it in 1992.
The first victim to lose her life was Wilma McCann, on 30 October. McCann was a mother of four from the Chapeltown district of Leeds. Sutcliffe struck her twice with a hammer before stabbing her 15 times in the neck, chest and abdomen. Traces of semen were found on the back of her underwear. An extensive inquiry, involving 150 police officers and 11,000 interviews, failed to uncover the culprit. One of McCann’s daughters committed suicide in December 2007, reportedly after suffering years of torment over her mother’s death.