Josephine Whittaker
4th April 1979

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Josephine Whittaker

Josephine Whittaker

The final phase of Sutcliffe's "career" saw him widen his net to include women from any and all walks of life. Previously, he had trawled notorious red light districts, looking for obvious prostitutes who would naturally present a vulnerable target to his attentions. At least partly because of the enhanced police presence in the red light districts, he now looked further afield to target any woman anywhere who he believed could be a prostitute.

From now on, any and all women in the North could consider themselves at risk from the Yorkshire Ripper.

Josephine Whitaker has been visiting her grandparents on the night of April 4th. Invited to stay over, she declined as she had work the next morning and had left her contact lens case at home. The walk home took her across Savile Park - a handsome park in the centre of Halifax - to her home in Ivy Street.

By the sick fates that would decide the fate of another 6 women before his capture, Peter Sutcliffe was in the area. Having spent the night drinking with his friend Trevor Birdsall, he dropped him off but then headed out to Halifax instead of home.

Among the people walking their dogs in the early evening, Sutcliffe spotted Josephine, walking alone. He parked, took his hammer and sharpened screwdriver and began to follow her.

He caught up with her and the two began to converse as they walked - he expressing surprise that she would take a shortcut across the park and remarking that you didn't know who you could trust.

As they left the street and headed into the park, Sutcliffe got her to read the time from a clock tower. Pretending to marvel at her eyesight, it was merely an excuse to create a distraction as he removed his tools. As she walked on in front, he attacked cracking her skull with a single heavy blow, before hitting her twice more as she lay prostrate on the ground. He dragged her further away from the street lights and into the deeper darkness when he heard voices alarmingly close. Crouching still in the shadows, he waited until the passed before finishing his business.

Even as she moaned, he stabbed her 21 times in the stomach and chest with the screwdriver, a further 6 times in the leg and finally thrust it into her vagina.

Not until 6:30 the following morning, was the body identified as such.

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