Serial Killer Peter Sutcliffe’s Similarities to Jack the Ripper

Getty Peter Sutcliffe and six of his known victims. Top left to right; Vera Millward, Jayne MacDonald, Josephine Whittaker and bottom left to right; Jean Royle, Helga Rytka and Barbara Leach

One of England’s most prolific serial killers died of complications from COVID-19 on November 13 in a hospital three miles from where he was serving a life-term in prison after being convicted of killing 13 women and attempting to kill seven more from 1975 to 1980,  according to Sky News. He was 74-years-old.

Peter Sutcliffe was known as the Yorkshire Ripper because the manner of his murders and many of his victims’ profiles mirrored another of England’s infamous killers, Jack the Ripper, who was known for murdering and mutilating at least five prostitutes in 1888.

According to a Jack the Ripper Tour Company, “Crime Historian Richard C. Cobb “investigated the United Kingdom’s most infamous serial killers and found some startling comparisons in both Ripper cases.”

Jack the Ripper & Peter Sutcliffe Both Killed Women & Often Mutilated Their Lower Abdomens Usually Leaving the Bodies Outside in the City to be Discovered

According to Cobb’s research, the two rippers both often hunted their victims in seedy parts of town, with Jack the Ripper’s victims being killed in the Whitechapel section of London and the Yorkshire Ripper attacking most of his victims in an area called Chapel Town in the city of Leeds.

Cobb wrote, “Both killers would strike only on weekends, targeting prostitutes from the red-light districts. The attacks were sudden and savage, with horrific mutilations to the lower abdomen.”

However, Sutcliffe would end up expanding his killing grounds, further evoking fear in the entire community once it was made clear that the Yorkshire Ripper didn’t only kill prostitutes — he would kill any woman or teenaged girl he could find alone when the desire struck, the BBC reported. Sutcliffe attacked several women and girls who were not prostitutes, though several got away.

Jack the Ripper may have more than five victims, but most experts agree that five of the women who were killed in Whitechapel in 1888 were definitely killed by Jack the Ripper, who made quick work of killing and sometimes mutilating them, until it came to his last known victim, Mary Kelly, the only one he is believed to have killed behind closed doors and the most savage of all the murders.

While the mutilations by both rippers are a particularly horrid aspect of their profiles, it is believed the women were killed prior to the savagery that was done to their bodies.

Professor Laurence Alison, Forensic Psychologist said of the Yorkshire Ripper’s murders, “…there isn’t a lot of torture in these cases and in the main they are relatively quick, what we call blitz attacks, extremely violent and extremely sudden blitz attacks, without actually an awful lot of sexual behavior accompanied in them,” according to Crime and Investigation.

When referring to a person, a “Ripper” is defined by the website dictionary as “a murderer who dissects or mutilates his victims’ bodies.”

Both British killers fit that definition.

A 1988 FBI Profile of Jack the Ripper Ended Up Also Being Applicable to the Yorkshire Ripper

Peter Sutcliffe, Yorkshire Ripper

GettyBritish serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, a.k.a. ‘The Yorkshire Ripper,’ in police custody, 1983.

According to Cobb, an FBI criminal profile done in 1988 called the Ripper Project “drew up a psychological profile of Jack the Ripper. When we compare their findings with what we now know about Peter Sutcliffe — the Yorkshire Ripper — then the similarities really do become clear,” he said, even though Jack the Ripper’s identity remains a mystery all these years later.

There are several things Cobb believes the two Rippers had in common:

White Males 28 -36 years old; Domineering Mother / close bond; Not markedly different from anyone else but perceived by family and others as a little strange or morbid; Socially detached preferred own company; Poor self-image; Seen by others as shy/timid character easily overlooked as a suspect; Did not kill for financial or material gain nor was a sadistic killer i.e. one who derives pleasure from inflicting pain and torture. Both killed quickly; Likely to have committed other attacks on women that were not reported or linked together.

The FBI profiled Jack the Ripper to have a “poor work record.” That can’t be known in his case, but in the case of Sutcliffe, whose modus operandi was to hit women or girls who he victimized in the head with a hammer before stabbing and/or mutilating them, he woke up to look for a job the morning after his first known victim was attacked in July of 1975, according to Crime and Investigation.

In that case, Anna Patricia Rogulskyj was hit in the head with a ball-peen hammer, and once rendered unconscious, Sutcliffe used a knife to mutilate her stomach and genitalia. Rogulskyj survived after 12 hours of surgery, Crime and Investigation reported.

Sutcliffe found a job as a delivery driver which he started in September of 1975, but was fired in March 1976, three victims later. As Crime and Investigation explains, “Sutcliffe’s attacks start to wear him out. He finds it hard to wake up for work. And on 5 March 1976, he’s fired from his delivery job.”

The Yorkshire Ripper got work again by October, Crime and Investigation reported, working mostly as a truck driver during the five years in which he attacked at least 20 women. Sutcliffe’s killings finally ended when he was charged for the murders in 1981. All the while he had a wife at home who worked as a school teacher, according to the Daily Mail.

It is unknown why Jack the Ripper stopped his horrific killings in 1888 when at one point he is believed to have killed two women on the same night. According to Jones, On September 30 —First Elizabeth Stride’s body was discovered, her throat slit, hours before another victim, Catherine Edowes, was discovered with her face mutilated and her uterus and left kidney missing. But the culmination of Jack the Ripper’s murders came in the early morning hours of November 9 when he dissected and mutilated 25-year-old Mary Kelly in her room.

London historian, broadcaster, author and tour guide Richard Jones, who maintains a website dedicated to all the things known about Jack the Ripper, wrote, “One of the problems with ascertaining the exact number of victims that Jack the Ripper had is the fact that he was never caught…Indeed, many experts will tell you that there may have been as few as four victims or as many as eight victims of the ripper.”

In Sutcliffe’s case, he’d been interviewed by police nine times about the various murders and attacks, and always managed to have an alibi or get out of it somehow, according to the BBC, who reported “Sutcliffe was eventually caught in January 1981 when he was stopped by officers in Sheffield with a prostitute in his brown Rover car and handed over to the Ripper squad. He was charged three days later and when he appeared at Dewsbury Magistrates’ Court the fear that had held sway over Leeds and the north of England erupted.”

Ripper Squad

GettyJanuary 1981: The so-called “Ripper Squad” From left to right, Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield, Chief Constable Ronald Gregory and acting assistant Chief Constable Jim Hodson following the arrest of Peter Sutcliffe in connection with the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ murders.

Sutcliffe was convicted of 13 murders and seven counts of attempted murder and sentenced to 20 life sentences, according to the BBC.

Though he was found fit to stand trial in 1981, in 1984 he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, the Guardian reported, and was sent to Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital. In 2016 he was transferred back to HMP Frankland Prison where he stayed until his death at a nearby hospital from COVID-19. He refused treatment, according to Sky News.

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