Peter Sutcliffe's hidden murders

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Peter Sutcliffe's hidden murders

Peter Sutcliffe's hidden murders

Peter Sutcliffe's campaign of murder began 'officially' with the murder of Wilma McCann in October 1975. In the summer of that same year, he had already attacked 14 year old Tracy Browne and 46 year old office worker Olive Smelt - both of whom survived. Yet it has long been suspected that Sutcliffe's spree may have started as long as 6 years prior to this apparently pivotal year and that his tally may be much higher than officially allowed.

Indeed, reports into Sutcliffe are still being kept from the public eye that suggest that police not only bungled the investigation into his crimes, but also wrote off as many as 22 other potential victims - leaving them classified as 'unsolved' in their haste to put Sutcliffe behind bars.

As far back as 1969, Sutcliffe was arrested, charged and convicted for 'going equipped for stealing' - having been caught in possession of a hammer. Not only was he caught, but he was caught in an area well known for prostitution. In September of that same year, he attacked a prostitute with a stone in a sock - a crime he confided to his close friend Trevor Birdsall (who would later try to turn Sutcliffe in).

If the official story of the Yorkshire Ripper attacks is to be believed, Sutcliffe then lay 'dormant' for six years before emerging again in 1975 to begin his established 5 year reign of terror over the women of the north of England. In fact, careful investigation suggests that Sutcliffe was active throughout that time and that the number of his victims was actually far higher than the 13 for which he was convicted in haste in 1981. Some have put the number as high as an astonishing 36.

Many who have studied the Sutcliffe case find the manner of his conviction bizarre. A man who evaded police for 6 years, whilst holding down regular, well-paid employment and maintaining a marriage without drawing suspicion to himself is almost the archetype of a true psychopath. While outwardly sane, he was driven to hurt and kill and yet could face investigating officers and give no hint of distress or worry that they were on his scent. He was not, by any measure, insane. And yet the prosecutors sought to have a plea of manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility put before the court.

Only thanks to the insistence of presiding Judge Boreham was evidence of Sutcliffe's claimed "insanity" put before the court and roundly rejected by jurors - who convicted him for murder without extenuating circumstance.

Even then, at his trial, evidence was not shown to the prosecution or jury to show just how calculating Sutcliffe was. Far from the opportunistic, random killer he was painted at, he not only had equipment to hand for murder, but he ritualised his killings - using an adapted jumper as a pair of "killing trousers" - padded at the knee to facilitate him kneeling by the bodies of his victims to masturbate. These trousers - along with other critical evidence are now classed as 'lost'. It might be argued that such losses are highly convenient for an embarrassed police force.

The sexual impulses and complication of Sutcliffe's psyche were brushed over in favour of "voices" he claimed to have heard telling him to rid the world of prostitutes. And yet as among his first attributed victims was a 14 year old girl, far from the city in a secluded semi-rural area. There is simply no way that Sutcliffe could have mistaken her for a prostitute.

So what were the police hiding - and what are they continuing to hide to this day? It took 25 years for Lawrence Byford's damning enquiry into the Ripper Investigation to be published, yet recent work has uncovered evidence that the police continue to hold back details on a string of murders - not even constrained to the North of England - which remain unsolved but bear strong hallmarks of Sutcliffe's methods. Worse still, men remain convicted to this day of murders which may have been committed by Sutcliffe - their voices unheard.

That the police were incompetent in their handling of the Ripper Inquiry is without doubt. But the truth could be worse than mere incompetence. By colluding with Sutcliffe, they may have hidden the true nature and scale of his crimes from the public eye for almost 40 years.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 10th November 2015 | © Weird Island 2010-2019
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