Serial killers aren't just found lurking in the truck stops of America. We've had our fair share in the UK. One of the most notorious is Peter Sutcliffe - better known as the Yorkshire Ripper. He killed 13 and attempted to kill at least 7 others, but they survived...
West Yorkshire was gripped with terror in the late 1970s as a vicious serial killer roamed the streets. The secret sicko was looking for women – usually sex workers, he could bludgeon and stab to death. That killer was lorry driver Peter Sutcliffe. Between 1975 and his eventual capture, in 1981, he murdered 13 women, and attempted to kill 7 others.
Among his first victims were Anna Rogulskyj and Olive Smelt, who he attacked in the summer of 1975. Both were struck from behind with a hammer, then slashed with a knife. In both cases, Sutcliffe’s attack was disturbed by the sound of someone nearby, leaving the victims with their lives, but deeply traumatised. Rogulskyj needed extensive surgery, and Smelt suffered clinical depression as a result.
Sadly, Sutcliffe claimed his first life in October 1975, followed by a second in January 1976.
He waited until May 1976 to strike again – this time attacking 20-year-old Marcella Claxton in Leeds. Walking home from a party she accepted a lift from Sutcliffe. Four months pregnant, Claxton desperately needed a wee, and got Sutcliffe to stop the car. But when she clambered out, he hit her from behind 8 or 9 times with a hammer. Unusually for Sutcliffe, he didn’t stab the victim to make sure she was dead. And, indeed, Marcella wasn’t. She survived the horrific attack, but sadly her baby didn’t. The ferocity of the hammer blows causing her to suffer a miscarriage. Claxton was left severely traumatised, but managed to testify against Sutcliffe at his 1981 trial, where he was sentenced to 20 concurrent life sentences.
Four other victims survived attacks by Sutcliffe, but the psychological impact of what he did cannot be underestimated.
While he has spent most of his sentence in Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1984, Sutcliffe was declared to no longer be mentally ill in December 2015, and in August 2016 he was reported to have been transferred from Broadmoor to Frankland Prison in Durham. However, due to his whole life tariff, he will never be released.