Nick Name: Yorkshire Ripper
Birthday: June 2, 1946
Age: 74 Years, 74 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Peter Coonan, Peter William Sutcliffe
Born in: Bingley
Notorious As: Serial Killer
Spouse/Ex-: Sonia Sutcliffe (m. 1974–1994)
father: John William Sutcliffe
mother: Kathleen Frances
siblings: Anne Sumner, Carl Sutcliffe, Jean, Maureen Sutcliffe, Mick Sutcliffe
Peter Sutcliffe is an infamous English serial killer, who was also known as the ‘Yorkshire Ripper.’ He was convicted for the murder of 13 prostitutes and attempt to kill seven more women. Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, he had mental troubles since childhood. Before his marriage, he would hire a lot of prostitutes and, according to his friends, he was conned by some of them very badly, which led to his hatred toward them. He committed his first murder in 1975 and continued for the next five years, until he was finally tracked down by the police in January 1981. Following this, he received 20 life sentences, which meant that he would be spending the rest of his life in jail. Soon after his prison sentence began, he showed signs of mental illness and was found to be suffering from schizophrenia. He was sent to a psychiatric unit for treatment and was then sent back to prison.
Childhood & Early Life
Peter William Sutcliffe was born in Bingley, Yorkshire, on June 2, 1946, into a family of highly religious Catholic parents. He was born prematurely and doctors were not sure whether he would live, but he did.
It is said that he preferred to be alone, in order to save himself from the bullying that he faced throughout his school years. He never discussed his issues with his parents, or with the few friends that he had. This turned him into a shy loner. He did not continue his education after the age of 15.
His father was a known alcoholic and despite being a staunch Catholic, he did not respect his wife. The oldest of six children, Peter loved his mother. However, he could not take a stand for her, as he was afraid of getting beaten up by the father.
Upon dropping out of the school, Peter indulged in some odd jobs, such as an engineering internship. However, the job that he loved the most was that of a gravedigger.
He worked as a gravedigger at the ‘Bingley Cemetery’ and showed immense passion for it. It is also said to be a turning point in his life, which turned him into a sadist. He enjoyed watching the corpses and even worked extra hours. He would later get excited while telling his friends about how he had the best job in the world and how much he enjoyed the sight of the corpses.
In 1970, his father accused his wife of cheating on him and insulted her in front of the entire family. This particular incident had a very serious impact on Peter’s psyche. He had always thought of his mother as the perfect woman, and this event made him believe that all women cheat.
By then, he was already in a long-term relationship with a woman named Sonia Szurma. They married in 1974. What made matters worse for Peter’s mental health were the several miscarriages that Sonia went through. Doctors eventually declared that she was physically unfit to get pregnant.
Some reports claim that Sonia had an affair with an ice-cream vendor and that resulted in Peter’s growing hatred of women.
Peter Sutcliffe hired prostitutes ever since he was a teenager. He spent a lot of money on paid sex, and sometimes, faced financial troubles due to this habit. He never stopped visiting prostitutes even after his marriage.
He was tricked by a prostitute during one of such encounters. She later made fun of him at a pub that he frequented, and this led him to sink into loneliness and despair. This is said to be the true beginning of his criminal instincts.
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October 1975 was the time when he finally snapped and let his violent instincts out without fearing the consequences. He hired Wilma McCann on October 30, and things turned ugly between the two. They had a fight, which resulted in Peter hitting the back of her head with a hammer. He then grabbed a knife and slashed her to death.
This style of killing became his trademark, and getting away with the first murder further infused a confidence in him. He hated women in general, especially the ones who sold their bodies in exchange for money.
Emily Jackson became his second victim, just three months after the first incident. He hit the back of her head with a heavy hammer and then stabbed her more than 51 times. The case was investigated by the police, but they found no evidences or witnesses, which had Peter roaming around freely on the streets, looking for his next target.
Over the course of the next year, he killed three more prostitutes, and as the body count kept increasing, the police became more attentive. They were aware that there was some connection between the murders, and they even had some suspects, but they were unable to gather enough evidence to accuse anyone of the crimes.
He moved to Manchester in 1977 and killed his sixth victim, Jean Jordan, a 20-year-old prostitute. This time, he made a mistake and dropped a currency bill at the place where she was murdered. He even went back to retrieve it but was unsuccessful.
The note was traced back to him, but by then, Peter had become more attentive and successfully evaded an arrest. Peter continued with the murders, unafraid of anybody, and killed three more prostitutes in 1978.
He was becoming a highly infamous name in England, and as the police were on a hectic man-hunt, he kept shifting locations and managed to fool them.
In 1978, his mother died, and the next year, he killed two more women. Well aware that the police were following him, he stayed away from the red-light areas and called prostitutes to other locations, where he murdered them brutally.
Peter was on the list of the 241 odd people who were under suspicion. He was questioned a total of nine times by the police. His cunning nature helped him get away with mere interrogations every time.
He had many trysts with the law during the late 70s and was once caught with a hammer in the back of his car. He fooled the police by making lame excuses. He was once taken into custody for drunk driving. The officers knew he was a suspect in the serial killings that continued, but he was set free due to lack of evidence.
This further gave confidence to Peter and he killed his last victim, Jacqueline Hill, in Leeds, in 1980. Apart from murdering, he also assaulted several other women, whom he was unable to kill.
Arrest & Life Sentence
In January 1981, he was taken into custody after being caught in a car with a prostitute, Olivia Rivers, in Sheffield. He was questioned about the fake number plate on his car. He somehow managed to slip away for a minute and got rid of his murder gear.
When he was brought to the station, it was found that he was one of the suspects in the infamous ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ serial murders. He even had the physical attributes that the policemen had deduced by then. The police went to the scene of his arrest and found a rope, a hammer, and a knife.
After two days of intense interrogation sessions, on January 4, Peter confessed that he was the ‘Yorkshire Ripper,’ who had been making news in the national and international media for quite a few years. After his confession, he gave the detailed descriptions of the murders that he had committed.
The trial went on for two weeks and by the end of it, Peter was found guilty of the murders and was given 20 concurrent sessions of life imprisonments. It was declared by the court that he would be considerd for parole only after 30 years of imprisonment. However, in 2010, the court passed an order that said that he may never get out of prison.
Peter Sutcliffe was diagnosed with schizophrenia shortly after he was sent to prison. Following this, he was sent to a mental facility and there, he changed his last name to ‘Coonan,’ the maiden name of his mother. He is said to have done this out of his love for his mother and to let go of the infamous ‘Sutcliffe’ from his name.
In November 2017, at the age of 71, he was rushed to a hospital, following a heart scare. He complained of chest pains and shortness of breath. He was taken back to the prison once he was thoroughly checked.